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Happy Agents and the Future of High-Quality CX in Contact Centers

Sebastian Menutti, ICT Industry Principal, Frost & Sullivan

The customer contact landscape continues to be disrupted in Latin America and the Caribbean (CALA) and around the world. Companies need to think strategically about how developments will continue to impact the field in 2020 and beyond. As customers become accustomed to interacting with automated interfaces, live agents will perform the more complex tasks and transactions that require unique human capabilities, such as empathy, negotiation skills, use of different tones of voice, and emotional intelligence in general. In this context, emotionally intelligent and happy agents who provide excellent customer experience (CX) will be a competitive differentiator.

The recently celebrated Frost & Sullivan flagship event in the CX field, “Contact Center West,” found that employee engagement is playing a fundamental role in competitive differentiation in today’s world. The agents are the main line of contact between consumers and most brands, and they can make all the difference. “Happy agents” equal “happy customers.” Hence, to provide superior CX, companies must generate the conditions that lead agents to give the best of themselves.

The Millennial Challenge 

However, transformations in the workplace are increasingly challenging CCSPs that want to get the best men and women for the job. The demographics of the contact centers in CALA have changed in the past decade. The contact center workforce draws from the millennial and younger generations, which favor a more flexible work environment with work/life balance. An increasing number also want to work from home (Frost & Sullivan research shows that the work at home agent (WAHA) modality is a nascent yet rapidly growing trend in CALA). Moreover, in the “it’s all about me” world we live in today, people actually want to like their jobs; keeping them engaged will be critical for employee retention. Frost & Sullivan’s research shows that 36% of companies worldwide are already realizing the benefits of a highly engaged workforce.

Consequently, providing the best possible conditions for agents is becoming a business imperative for companies in CALA. Excellent facilities will no longer be enough. Contact center agents are demanding robust training programs and clear career opportunities. People today are afraid to lose their jobs to robots, give them the chance to improve their personal value proposition, remain relevant to your customers, and feel less insecure about their jobs.

Moreover, CCSPs in CALA are starting to leverage the right technology. For example, modern workforce engagement management (WEM) applications can dramatically improve the employee experience and have a clear ROI. For instance, 96% of WEM adopters are more likely to achieve overall profitability, 82% provide a better quality of customer experience, and 60% have more highly engaged and motivated employees. Further, companies such as Teleperformance Colombia are creating mobile apps that allow agents to exchange shifts, manage days offs, and coordinate bike routes to ride together to the centers. Other companies, such as Alorica, are using AI to streamline their hiring processes (pre-selecting the best candidates) and generating significant savings. 

Finally, companies today need to make people want to work for them. They need to become the employer of choice in their locations. Companies such as Ibex Global are performing flash mobs in the middle of the city to strengthen brand awareness, while others are flooding their cities with signs of “job positions available” to attract more workers. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is also playing a growing role in this. CSR initiatives are becoming the norm among global and regional organizations. People enjoy working in an organization that gives back to their community. They find meaning in their work, as they can see concrete results and help people and the environment. Examples of successful CSR initiatives in CALA include, but are not limited to, Atento in Argentina, Almaviva in Brazil, Teleperformance in Chile, Konecta in Peru, Emtelco in Colombia, TTEC in Mexico, Telus International in Guatemala, Sitel in Nicaragua and Sutherland Global Services in Jamaica.

To survive in this ultra-competitive customer relationship market, companies must dedicate much more attention to their employees, that is, to have happy agents. Generating the best employee experience throughout their entire lifecycle with the company has become a must for any CCSP that wants to avoid losing competitive ground.

Sebastian Menutti

ICT Industry Principal, Frost & Sullivan.

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