How to get happier customers and contact centre workers

By Ryan Falkenberg, 05 July 2023 – Originally published by IT Online.

Let’s be honest: how often have you called an organisation’s contact centre in a good mood? I’d wager that the answer is somewhere between “seldom” and “almost never”. After all, most of us only call them because we’ve got stuck with a frustrating issue.

Things aren’t much better when contact centres call us either. In those instances, the frustration comes from the irrelevance of what’s being offered in the call or because it’s come at an inconvenient time.

Now, knowing how one of those frustrating calls can ruin your day, imagine how it impacts the contact centre agents who have to make and take them. These are, remember, people who are just doing their jobs and who frequently don’t even directly work for the companies they represent.

It should hardly be surprising then that mental health is a major concern in the contact centre space. And with burnout levels on the rise all over the world, it could quickly become an escalating crisis.

Technologies such as intelligent virtual agents could dramatically reduce the stress felt by both consumers and contact centre workers.

A timely intervention

First, though, we need to acknowledge that many of the stressors people face globally are magnified in South Africa thanks to a stagnating economy, load shedding, and persistently high crime levels. That means customers are probably already very stressed by the time they make or receive a call from a contact centre.

Contact centre workers, meanwhile, have to make and receive higher volumes of calls and also have to deal with customers who are more demanding than ever. That’s hardly a recipe for the kind, healthy, engaged, and loyal workforce that organisations hope to build.

Applied properly though, technology can prove a timely intervention for any contact centre that implements them. Here’s why.

Personalised omnichannel, anyone?

Unlike a traditional chatbot, virtual agents can have the same kind of personalised, context-driven conversations that human agents do. Critically, they can do so in an automated way across a wide range of channels, including SMS, email, website, app, and instant messaging platforms.

As a result, more people can resolve whatever issue or dispute they might have on the channels they’re most comfortable with – often without having to make a phone call.

That not only means fewer stressed-out customers, but also reduced call volumes for contact centre agents. And even when customers do have to make calls, virtual agents can help by guiding human agents through the customer’s query. As a result, call centre personnel can focus on what they’re best at: being human.

The technology can play this role because virtual agents can understand and clarify the customer’s problem, analyse it, present possible solutions and take action to resolve the issue. In the process, what can be an incredibly frustrating customer experience can quickly become a pleasant one. That, in turn, means that customers are much less likely to take their frustrations out on contact centre agents.

Every little bit helps

There’s no doubt that we live in incredibly stressful times and that virtual agents aren’t a cure-all for society’s ills. But if they can provide a better experience for customers and reduce the mental load faced by contact centre agents, that’s an important step in the right direction.

Technology can increasingly handle the thousands of routine, rule-based conversations that overwhelm contact centres, so human agents can focus on the richer, relationship-building conversations that transform the customer experience.

View original article here.