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The 2022 Contact Center Trifecta of Pain: Increasing Workloads (Part 3)

A contact center agent looks overwhelmed by her workload

As the contact center faces the challenges of increasing workloads, these are the key strategies to maximize contact center agent training and productivity.

Even before the pandemic, contact center agents’ plates were full. But since the pandemic, the contact center has faced increasing pressure, leading to workload challenges for agents. 

Given the shifts we’ve seen over the past two years, including contact centers becoming a new lifeline for businesses, it’s clear that a new customer ecosystem is emerging. To achieve success moving forward, contact centers must not only engage with customers with empathy at their time of need via their preferred customer service channels, but also to learn from each and every one of these conversations to optimize the customer experience for future interactions.

Here are some contact center agent training and performance strategies today’s top contact centers are using to set their teams up for success.

How to Effectively Manage Contact Center Agent Training & Performance in the New Ecosystem

#1: Analyze rich contact center data to predict workload trends

A well-managed contact center is data-driven. Understanding call volume trends is essential to ensure organizations have the right agents with the right skills available at the right times, especially when things get busy.

Thankfully, most contact centers have the insights they need right at their fingertips to be able to better manage their agents’ workloads during these high-stress periods. By reviewing historical contact center data, businesses can anticipate future engagement trends and predict when agent workloads might ramp up and what issues are arising during these periods of high demand.

For instance, organizations may routinely see an influx of calls come in at the close of a monthly billing cycle. By analyzing engagement data during these recurring timeframes and on an ongoing basis, contact centers are able to:

  • See exactly what’s driving inquiries
  • Shed light on issues that can be fixed to prevent or reduce inquiries moving forward
  • Reveal the financial impact of ongoing issues that have yet to be resolved
  • Discover emerging topics and themes that are driving spikes in contact volume outside of known and expected high volume periods
  • Create warning systems to receive alerts as new issues start driving contact volume

#2: Uncover the strengths of each agent

Instead of divvying up employee responsibilities across the board, organizations are driving greater outcomes by assigning tasks to agents based on their individual strengths. For example, if you know that one employee is particularly strong with communicating with empathy, you can assign them to handle account recovery topics. If you know that another employee is a stronger writer than a speaker, you can assign them to handle live chat, social media, and email engagement.

To determine what areas your agents excel in, look no further than your quality management platform, which makes it easy to see the strengths of and opportunities for growth for every team member.

While it’s always beneficial to improve your contact center agent training and performance across the key skill areas needed to get the job done, by prioritizing the cultivation of each agent’s unique expertise, you can:

  • Put agents in a position to train others in the topics where they’re top performers
  • Create a team of experts
  • Prevent agents from getting overwhelmed juggling a variety of tasks — service calls, emails, social media, live chat, and administrative tasks — and help them manage their workloads by focusing on their strengths

#3: Empower agents to solve tough problems

Too often, talented agents who not only meet the expectations set for them but also go above and beyond every day eventually plateau and leave to find their next challenge. These are the very agents who make for excellent candidates for empowerment. They enjoy extra responsibilities, and the ability to deliver exceptional service gives them great satisfaction. They aspire to influence others and ultimately become great leaders by example. When organizations empower agents like these, tough customer issues can get resolved on the spot and amazing results can be achieved.

To be sure, being empowered is a privilege that needs to be earned and should not be given lightly to new agents. That said, when the right agents are empowered, that can have powerful effects, both for the customer who benefits from an improved experience and for the agent who has an improved employee experience, achieving a greater sense of job satisfaction when they can help a customer in a way that they themselves would like to be helped if they were in the customers’ shoes.

How do you know where to start? Frequently, organizations have empowerment budgets allocated to individual agents or the team as a whole on a weekly or monthly basis. Another trend that’s growing in popularity is offering agents a menu of empowerment options to choose from, ranging from sending flowers directly to a customer who has suffered a bereavement or illness or the choice to cover costs for a customer who has had a poor experience. Yet another underutilized strategy? Using customer experience data to devise ways to empower agents.

Spend some time with your customer experience data and analytics and you will be able to:

  • See which topics are driving dissatisfaction
  • Create alerts on these topics to be notified about customer experience challenges 
  • Create recommended next best actions agents can take on their own, without having to get a supervisor’s approval
  • Create a process to close the loop, assigning empowered agents to reach out to customers proactively

#4: Generate great contact center agent training and performance ideas directly from the team

Another technology that complements the processes discussed here is having an ideas management platform where empowered agents can share change management recommendations.

Agents themselves know how they can do their best work, and using a crowdsourcing platform where they can share their ideas gives them the voice to do this can bring huge dividends to the business and make agents feel that their contributions are valued.

Prepare Contact Center Agents to Take On Increasing Workloads

Contact center agents take on more than ever before, but it doesn’t mean you can’t equip each agent with the skills and tools necessary to remain productive. Dive into your contact center’s data, and also tap into the strengths of your agents to bring out the best in their work. You’ll create an environment that promotes a solution-first mindset even through the toughest challenges.

Looking for more strategies to drive contact center agent training and performance? Check out our guide, 4 Steps to Supercharge Contact Center Agent Performance, for even more ideas.