North American Customer Service Management Association

Support for Contact Center Professionals

Phase 6 Strategy - Step 3 Technology

Does the Technology Support the Site Culture?

What is the culture you want technology to support? Contact center culture reflects the site manager’s values and priorities as well as the personality of the site.

Generations X and Y are changing the way work is done and they are using technology to change it. The omni-channel trends, the move to the cloud, and social media are here to stay. The consolidation of technology companies especially CRMs, workforce management, routing and queuing technology will make it easier for contact centers to provide the technology tools agents need to service the 21st century customer. CTI’s, agent scripts and surveys are just some of the contact center platform tools that automate the agent’s job making it easier. Contact center features, capability and technology trends impact the contact center culture. The question is, are you aware of how it is impacted? Are you using technology that supports the culture? Or is the technology so outdated that it is destroying the culture? Are you creating a culture of ease or frustration?
How Technology Influences Company Culture

First, agents today can be overwhelmed with the amount of technology they are responsible for knowing how to use.

Dual monitors, keyboards, a mouse, a soft phone, and multiple applications can make an agent want to give up in despair. This “overwhelmed employee” is a real phenomenon. Computers, tablets, and contact center phone systems have all become standard equipment in today’s contact centers and are indeed part of the culture.
In omni-channel centers, some agents are assigned to one channel while at other sites, agents are responsible for all channels. The trend is that consumers are communicating in more than one channel and will continue to do so in the future. The challenge is to provide a consistent experience across all channels. Agents are learning how to communicate via all channels and this can be overwhelming; not all contact center platforms can handle omni-channel communications, thus putting more on the agent.
In PCI and HIPPA compliant contact centers, personal devices are typically locked up and put away. Agents are learning how to conduct themselves and are looking for cues from management as to how and when personal calls can be answered, how they should handle social media interruptions and personal use of the company phone system. Agents are looking for what are acceptable technology practices for both personal and company technology.
The Paperless Office

Since the 1980’s business has been pushing for the paperless office. It is now the new normal.

Contact centers that are HIPPA and PCI compliant have “no paper” policies. Their agents are not allowed to write customer names down, no account numbers, nor any notes – absolutely nothing. This paperless policy can create stress for new agents who have the need to write things down. To write is the kinesthetic approach and is a cultural shift to use the computer’s “notepad” instead of paper and pen. This paperless environment forces agents to type into a virtual notepad and is a shift in thinking as well as behavior. Different age demographics will typically see technology differently, as some will be very comfortable with it while others may become easily overwhelmed with multiple screens open and if they are small, will get frustrated when they get covered up by one another. Help agents make the transition. Paperless is here to stay and everyone wants to save trees and be PCI and HIPPA compliant.
Camaraderie and Coaching

Contact Centers today have instant messaging built into the contact center platform allowing supervisors and team members to talk and share throughout the day.

Team chats include helping each other out, cheering and celebrating agent successes and of course any announcements from the team manager. No longer do agents feel isolated. This creates team camaraderie where prior to this technology agents spent the day alone.
Many contact center platforms have features that can support the agent in several different ways. For example, if an agent needs help, the supervisor can listen to the call in “silent” mode and chat with the agent via a chat box to assist, like where to find information or what questions to ask. This feature can be used no matter where the agent and supervisor reside within the world. If the agent is struggling, the supervisor can “barge in” and turn the call into a three way call and support the new agents. This kind of support helps reduce turnover; agents that feel supported stick around. A supportive environment creates a winning culture.
Remote Agents

The trend is to work from home. Agents are demanding more flexibility and more work from home options.

Companies are setting up agents with contact center software and phone systems within the agent’s home, reducing turnover and improving morale. The new Software as a Service contact center software makes it look and sound like the agent is in the contact center. It is completely transparent to the caller. Managing remote teams has never been easier with Chat features that allow supervisors to talk with team members. Supervisor dashboards with agent status indicates who needs help, who “showed up” to work and who didn’t. Managing remote agents is no longer impossible and has a huge impact on the contact center culture.

Tips!

1. Conversation gets convoluted with Instant Messenger, email and chat. Get out of your chair; pick up the phone and talk to people.
2. While everyone likes wireless it’s not the most reliable for contact centers. Wireless laptop connections drop calls with soft phones. Stick to wired.

Take the Next Step!

Culture can make or break an agent’s job experience and a customer’s experience. It can be the deciding factor in accepting a job and keeping that job. As Generations Y and Z outnumber the Baby Boomers technology will continue to drive and change the way contact centers operate today. Today’s technology allows agents to work from home with greater flexibility. Agents just login to a call queue and start taking calls; with SaaS contact center platforms, this gives the agents the ability to do so from anywhere around the world. The trend is to work from anywhere at anytime. While the technology allows agents to do this, the contact center culture will shift in how it is typically managed.

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The North American Customer Service Management Association (NACSMA) assists Service Center professionals with improving the delivery of Customer Care to their clients by providing a collaborative networking approach to operational issues.