3 . A DIGITAL-FIRST WORLD
A driver of the first trend , rapid digital adoption has drastically increased the number of available communication touchpoints between brands and their customers .
The expansion of digital channels as a result of the pandemic means contact centers must optimize their omnichannel approach to effectively support customers and allocate employees across a wide variety of platforms , whether social media , apps , email , web chat , or traditional phone support .
4 . NEED FOR SOPHISTICATED AGENT SUPPORT As agents take on increasingly complex customer interactions that cannot be resolved through self-service , brands must support them with advanced tools and solutions necessary to prepare them for success .
HAS ANYTHING CHANGED IN THESE FACTORS BETWEEN 2019 AND NOW , AND WHY ?
TC : Most people are under the impression that the emergence of technology enabling digital work reared its head in early 2020 at the onset of the pandemic .
But email and chat channels have been a part of WFM solutions for decades . What has happened is the dramatic increase in interaction volumes that made it feel like a net new need .
The pandemic has most certainly changed employees ’ need for schedule flexibility , and innovations in technology empower their choice to design their work schedules : some across a wide range of jobs .
The growing Gig Economy significantly impacts innovations made to WFM solutions to assist organizations in managing modern employment models that don ' t adhere to the traditional 9-to-5 workday .
DH : Agent empowerment features have changed significantly . The rise of remote and hybrid work , combined with the reshuffling of talent in the industry , underscored the importance of employee autonomy and providing more flexible methods for WFM .
The good news is there are tools available to transform how agents work and give them more control over their daily work lives .
DS : The increased digitization across the globe is driving demand for more digital channels . While digital transformation was already in motion in 2019 , no one was prepared for the rapid acceleration of digital and virtual expansion since March 2020 .
Brands have been updating their technology stacks and exploring omnichannel customer communications . However , those nice-to-haves became must-haves when contact centers began receiving an unprecedented volume of customer requests , combined with burgeoning consumer demand to expand digital channels and entry points .
As the number of possible customer channels continues to proliferate , agents must develop more specialized skills that help them master multiple channels simultaneously — many of them asynchronous . Combined with other workplace shifts , these challenges are contributing to a higher demand for more complex work experience .
Further , the pandemic further heightened employee desire for flexibility . Many agents now crave remote or hybrid working environments and are reluctant to return to an office full-time after maintaining and often exceeding their performance goals while successfully working from home .
In short , today ’ s trends result from a reimaging of the ways we work , interact , and socialize with others — as opposed to meeting and leveraging evolving technology before the pandemic .
Agent and customer expectations have both shifted , and brands must pursue WFM solutions that help them adapt to the new reality .
THERE ARE MANY CONVERSATIONS ABOUT THE GREAT RESIGNATION , AMONG OTHER STAFFING ISSUES . BUT WHAT ARE THE ACTUAL CRITICAL FORCES SHAPING THE DEMAND FOR , AND THE AVAILABILITY , QUALITY , AND LOYALTY OF CONTACT CENTER WORKFORCES ?
DG : Agent engagement and schedule flexibility accelerated during the pandemic . While WFH agents is not a new concept , the scale and speed at which companies adopted this style of work increased dramatically .
Because of this transition , companies had to accelerate moving their networks and platforms to the cloud .
TC : It ' s undoubtedly a challenging job market , which makes it crucial for organizations to attract , nurture , and retain quality talent .
With the Great Resignation , we saw people change their type of work solely because it wasn ' t their passion . Others were seeking companies that satisfied their need for choice and flexibility , especially in the world of contact center work .
Today ’ s contact center agents want to establish themselves with a company culture . One that gives them greater autonomy to choose their shifts for better work-life balance , not the job itself . ( Continued on page 44 )
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