How To Recognise the Value of Contact Centre Agents in COVID-19

2020 has been tough on everyone. In the realm of CX, customers are stressed and their expectations are as high as ever. This weighs heavily on frontline employees who must deal with customer frustration head-on. For many businesses, contact centre agents have been essential workers throughout the pandemic, and deserve recognition for their hard work. Many have also had to adapt to a new way of working, from at-home desks rather than the office, adding new challenges and needs. Below we discuss how to show them extra appreciation and lessen the burden of their ever difficult jobs. 

Give recognition where it is due

The coronavirus pandemic has complicated life for people around the world. The nature of customer service and experience has changed, and in-person interactions have become less frequent, adding to the workload of agents. Providing the best customer experiences possible is complicated when customers approach agents stressed and anxious. Customer needs and expectations are higher than ever, so agents are doing their best to make customers feel happy and supported. Handholding is now a part of their job, which isn’t always easy. Expressing gratitude to your agents for their hard work is incredibly important to keep up their morale and motivation. Congratulate agents who are performing well by giving tokens or rewards for those with high NPS or FCR scores. Gamification tools can be really useful here to make their work a bit more interesting. And be sure to offer additional support to those who might be struggling. 

Bolster support and training systems

Contact centre agents have been facing new challenges as a result of the pandemic, and they need all the support they can get to continue delivering exceptional customer experiences. The best way to help them to excel in their roles is to offer tools, materials and training systems that address new difficulties that come up. Someone may be contacting a call centre for help as they’ve lost their job or a loved one as a result of the pandemic, but are your agents equipped to deal with the emotional degree this type of call? This also may weigh on agents’ own emotional states, so they should be checked in on regularly by their colleagues and team leaders to make sure everyone is ok and able to do the best they can in their jobs. If policies have changed as a result of the pandemic – do your agents fully understand the changes and the reasons for them? When you support your agents, you support your customers, so agents must be equipped with the necessary tools and information to continue to improve CX in a variety of new or changing situations. 

Be flexible

Striking a healthy work-life balance has become more difficult than ever since the start of the pandemic. The need for remote contact centre agents has made it paramount that flexible working hours be introduced to make things easier on agents while also increasing business agility. Since many industries have seen a spike in customers getting in touch via call or chat, the demand for remote agents has increased, making flexible contracts all the more vital to business success. Giving your employees flexibility when it comes to scheduling shifts is necessary to appeal to their individual needs and priorities, such as childcare concerns or other pandemic-related challenges. Splitting shifts, break options, shift exchanges and various alternatives for flexibility should be made available to ease the pressures of working from home. 

Prioritise data integration

Integrating data from many sources will make contact centre agents’ jobs less challenging by improving operational efficiency and making their interactions at various stages of the customer journey run more smoothly. Time spent asking customers for transaction details or personal information can be used to help customers to get the answers they are looking for if the data is already to hand. When a customer calls a contact centre, they usually want the interaction to be as short as possible. Waiting times, being put on hold, and delays add to their levels of frustration, which in turn makes an agent’s job even more difficult. 

Provide the best tools

Not all tools and platforms are created equal, so it is essential to equip your contact centre teams with new and improved tools to make it easier for them to achieve their goals and targets. This ties in with prioritising data integration, as this should be easy with the best infrastructures and tools available. With the limitations that working from home has added to the day-to-day realities of agents, it is increasingly important that the tools and equipment help them to communicate and collaborate with their colleagues and build better customer relationships.