Agents with agency – the new call centre operator needs more than a script to follow

Expectations for contact centre staff have changed dramatically – not just in how they work, but also in what kinds of work they do.

Technology advances have encouraged brands to move towards the automation of more basic functions and rules-based tasks. While these activities are ideal for the application of robotic process automation (RPA) software, the human touch is still essential to quality customer service.

That being said, the call centre operative’s role has changed in light of greater technological integration, from one of repetitive, strict process based tasks and scripted interactions to one of complex problem-solving and creative solution-finding. For example, operatives now need to know when the best time is to trigger customised offers, or how to manage escalations that could result in a lost customer.

This expanded purview means that the skillsets and strategic relevance of call centre staff are much different to what they were a decade ago. Today, they need to become data miners and emotion mappers, capable of switching hats as seamlessly as customers switch channels.

For retailers, this delivers a strong imperative to transform the way they run their call centres, keeping up with the pace of change as it continues to increase, through the current pandemic scenarios and beyond.

While customers are now comfortable using automated contact channels for simple exchanges, there are situations that demand human engagement, situations that connect customers with real people who can empathise with them and collaborate to bring them the solution they need.

Consumers are turning to contact centres when technologically enhanced self-service features have left them unsatisfied. When they speak to a person, they expect compassion, intelligence, understanding, and effective crisis resolution management.

In a post-pandemic world, contact centre representatives have the unique position of being potentially the only ‘human’ contact a consumer has with a brand. If this is to be the norm, then these interactions need to be near flawless, every time – showing intelligence, engagement and emotional depth. For this to be possible at all,  call centre agents need to be empowered to make the most of their uniquely human capabilities: creativity, empathy, nuanced judgement.

That means brands need to develop high-quality, ‘hybrid’ style call centres utilize automation capabilities, but retain person to person connections. The challenge is to do this affordably, without impacting on quality. Running a best-in-class contact centre within the UK is expensive, and as retailers deal with the economic contractions and wider ramifications of the fallout from Covid-19, they’ll need to look for leaner alternatives.

Historically, when this has been the case, brands have looked to outsource contact centres, using facilities in countries like India and the Phillipines. However, despite these options being appropriate for a time when volume and speed were the key markers of success, today’s contact centres need to deliver on sophisticated, nuanced customer engagements that drive acquisition and retention strategies.

With the often-prohibitive costs of UK-based call centres, that means retailers have to look for alternatives. The downside to outsourcing call centres is often that your customers can tell it isn’t you they’re dealing with.

With Synergy, however, that isn’t the case. We give our agents the agency they need to  get to know your business inside and out. They’re part of your team because they take the time to get to know you, your processes and what makes you, uniquely you.

Our staff are sophisticated, analytical, compassionate, and informed – a different type of operator for a different type of call centre, one that goes beyond simple service provision to deliver the full customer experience cycle – at a fraction of the cost.

To find out how Synergy can save your business money and enhance customer service standards, get in touch with us today.