2023 has brought its fair share of changes for all industries. Naturally, call center management has to adapt to each of these. And this will be a year of major change.
From artificial intelligence taking over part of the duties of call center agents to the way we hire our call center team. Everything’s new for call centers.
Before we jump into the trends that are already taking shape as well as expert predictions, let’s see just where we started.
The state of call center management in 2023
Most of us were born after the very first call centers in the late 60s. Starting as a one-room operation that often ran off of manual switchboards, they now include entire departments dedicated to customer service, tech support, and more.
Working as a call center agent at the time was a unique experience. This was the era of landlines and switchboard operators, so the job was very different from the call center work of today.
Center managers of the time would often focus on ensuring all employees had a good working knowledge of the product or service, as well as an understanding of the pertinent business policies and procedures.
This is still true today. But back then, due to the limitations of technology, managers were also tasked with carefully monitoring call records and statistics manually.
Overall, call center management in the late 60s was a much different proposition than what it is today.
Fast forward to 2023 and call centers are radically different. Even more technology and a stronger customer centricity are two strong definers of what the future holds.
Automation has transformed customer service functions, allowing call centers to provide a more efficient, cost-effective experience for customers. The use of data-driven AI and machine learning allows centers to recognize customer sentiment and provide even more personal responses.
Today, almost every contact center is equipped with not just voice but also text, email, and chat capabilities. These allow customers to communicate with the company in their preferred method and even get answers in an instant.
So where is call center management headed?
How to do call center management right in 2023
There’s a couple of very clear call center management trends that are already taking over the way we manage support agents. But we’re also pointing out some predictions experts are noticing when it comes to center operations and technology.
Agents need more motivation in the workplace
With the rise of reliance on technology, call center agents are facing an ever-increasing workload. This workload takes its toll on agents who pick up dozens, if not hundreds, of tickets each day across multiple channels and platforms.
More organizations are opting to provide better professional development initiatives, create personalized training, and foster job satisfaction to establish improved morale among call center teams. By investing in their staff, they can boost employee engagement and reduce agent attrition. In fact, reducing staff turnover by just 5% can save your contact center as much as $600K.
There’s an actual need for more automation
As many as 91% of contact center managers say that automation is a critical or important priority this year.
Automation provides a host of benefits, such as:
- Improved customer experience
- Faster response times and call resolutions
- Increased customer satisfaction
- Cost savings
- Fewer customer complaints
- Consistent call center services
- And an overall better call center performance
Simply put, they make everyone’s lives easier. The result is an outcome that benefits everyone: call center teams are able to provide top-notch customer service more quickly and cost-effectively than ever before.
For instance, automating reporting and quality assurance can reduce workloads while promoting greater accuracy in customer conversations. Kaizo’s automated QA tool works in the most challenging call center environments, providing relief to call center teams who are swamped up in high support ticket volumes.
Using AI in call center management
60% of agents report that using AI has helped save them time.
AI tools can now be used to optimize agent performance and deliver better customer service. Call center managers can use AI to track agents’ calls, automate daily operations or mundane tasks such as report generation, answering incoming calls, searching large databases for customer information, or identifying trends in customer conversations.
Additionally, agents can use AI to provide accurate contextual advice during conversations with customers, recognize sentiment in customer interactions, analyze customer preferences or behavior patterns, and draw out insights that would otherwise go undetected by agents.
In order to effectively utilize AI within call center management systems, the technology must strike a balance between human agents and automated features; replicating the same quality of communication agents have with customers and applying intelligent algorithms for more complex tasks.
In a talk we had with Raúl Garreta, co-founder & CEO at MonkeyLearn, he observed that AI-assisted support will surely become the norm. Months later and his predictions are now a reality. Call center software providers have adapted to the new demands, speeding up customer data collection and even ticket resolution.
Tip: Start small with chatbots! As many as 58% of customers report having used chatbots or self-service portals in 2022 alone. These are becoming increasingly popular and can reduce your call center team’s workload.
Focusing on call center agent engagement
Keeping your agents engaged is essential to ensure a satisfactory [and ideally excellent] customer service experience. But only 38% of contact center agents are extremely satisfied with their job. And the numbers get scarier as 59% of agents are at risk of burnout.
A manager who’s focused on improving employee engagement will find center agents that are more motivated and productive.
This means they’ll become more dedicated to their roles and further increase their enthusiasm towards providing an excellent customer experience. On one hand, this benefits contact center staff morale by giving agents a sense of value and recognition. Additionally, it improves the overall success of the business as agents are more likely to deliver better and faster responses.
Increased customer satisfaction and improved call center performance.
But what would really work if you want to provide a positive experience for your own call center agents?
- Start by setting SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Bound) goals for your agents. Give them Kaizo missions based on their historical performance and priorities to keep them focused on their objectives.
- Make sure you reward and celebrate their achievements. Schedule regular one-on-one meetings to provide agents with actionable feedback for their work.
- Consider offering coaching and mentoring opportunities. Identify coachable moments to provide feedback and growth options to agents in a more meaningful way. Agents will feel valued and respected, which will go a long way in helping them stay engaged and motivated. Plus, they’ll understand the importance and true impact of their work.
Retaining agents is getting more difficult
Today’s remote job market has opened up countless opportunities for individuals, including those looking to start a career in the call center industry.
Hence, the attrition rate in the care and support space is now at a whopping 87.6%. The same study shows the average tenure of call center employees is at only 13.7 months. With lots of remote job options available, it’s becoming increasingly challenging to retain agents, even with attractive benefits and bonuses.
As more remote jobs become available, companies must stay competitive and come up with innovative ways to keep their call center agents from leaving for other remote opportunities. By doing so, businesses can ensure that they have qualified agents in their call centers for a longer period of time.
Remote and hybrid work settings are now a permanent option for agents
89% of customer experience and contact center leaders say that remote or hybrid will be a permanent choice for at least some employees.
But John Riordan, Director of Support at Shopify, observes that the physical call center isn’t dead:
He notes that companies can save as much as $19,000 per agent by not having an office. This is much-needed when you’ve got a lot of agents or you’re trying to save some money.
John suggests that businesses should use the savings from no longer needing office space to invest in remote working tools and home office equipment. He firmly believes the days of working only within an office building are long gone, and businesses should be more cost-effective in choosing which offices they need and for whom.
What your year as a call center manager will look like
- Put your team first. Agents will need to stay engaged and motivated to provide a top customer experience. Retaining agents will inevitably be more difficult but you can work on improving your work culture and feedback loops to keep your team.
- Invest in new call center software. Choose automation-friendly tools or consider trying out AI to speed up manual work.
- Accept remote and hybrid work settings as a long-term strategy. After all, these settings will provide the flexibility your business needs to grow at a global level and adapt to continuously changing demands.
We strongly advise analyzing the challenges of workforce management in a call center
you’ve had over the past few months before you invest in any strategy.
Book a Kaizo demo to see how you can keep up with the above call center challenges and trends using one single tool.