It seems as though the contact center industry is hurtling toward
digitization and wholesale adoption of digital channels at the speed of
light. Here’s the thing, though – voice still matters.
Just to be clear, I think support of digital channels in the contact
center will be an absolute necessity as generational expectations (GX)
drive the customer experience (CX) in the future. I believe the
contact center is now poised on the cusp of the most disruptive change
the industry has experienced in its 40-plus year history. The
change I refer to is the impact of GX on the industry from both the
customer as well as the worker perspective.
While digital communications become increasingly important to the
customer service profession, it is also important to remember that
digital channels are not going to make voice obsolete. Voice
customer service is ubiquitous in the industry today and it still
remains the channel of choice for customers of all generations.
Figure 1 below illustrates penetration of customer service channels in
the North American contact center market today.
The source of the data is Saddletree Research’s annual survey of
end-users, conducted each year in conjunction with the not-for-profit
National Association of Call Centers (NACC) at Middle Tennessee State
University. Results are statistically valid at a 95 percent
confidence level with a margin of error of less than four percent.
As the data illustrates, the installed base of telephone customer
service in the contact center industry is nearly 100 percent and, in
fact, our 98 percent-support survey result falls within our margin of
error. While digital channels are making progress toward greater
market penetration, they have a long way to go before catching up to
Given the attention digital customer service is receiving in today’s
market, we wanted to get a better handle on the impact the use of
digital channels is having on traditional voice communications.
Figure 2 represents the responses from our research regarding any
changes to contact center incoming phone volume in the past 12 months.
Despite the growth of digital channel support, the reality is that 70
percent of the industry experienced call volumes the same or greater
than they experienced in the previous 12 months. Voice
communications still dominate customer service, yet call routing
strategies represent one of the industry’s most, if not the most,
neglected CX processes. Thus, our conundrum. Effective call
routing is critically important to today’s CX, yet it has been allowed
to grow old and tired and woefully inefficient.
Figure 3, below represents the state of the art in terms of the
distribution of call routing strategies in 2019.
As the data indicates, the contact center is stuck firmly in the 1990s
when it comes to call routing strategies. There is, however, a
recent innovation that promises to push customer call routing swiftly
into the 21st century.
Predictive Behavioral Routing represents the first major innovation in
customer call routing since skills-based routing was introduced in the
early 1990s. It is a welcome addition to a contact center
technology segment that has been inexplicably overlooked for too long.
Grounded in analytics and constantly fine-tuned by
machine-learning-based artificial intelligence (AI), Predictive
Behavioral Routing communicates with the ACD to intelligently route
calls to the best available agent based upon customer personality,
behavioral data, and communications preferences. Predictive
Behavioral Routing relies on proprietary behavioral modeling along with
the industry’s largest database of customer behavioral profiles in
order to send calls to the agent whose skills and ability best match
the profile of the customer initiating the call.
The net result of Predictive Behavioral Routing’s modernization of call
routing strategies is a reduction in customer effort, increased first
call resolution (FCR), and decreased average handle time (AHT).
An added bonus is the job satisfaction agents achieve when helping
customers they are more likely to be successful with.
Predictive Behavioral Routing is delivered via the cloud as a software
service and all the benefits of the cloud contact center such as cost
savings, flexibility, ease of maintenance, and unprecedented
reliability, are inherent in the product. Predictive Behavioral
Routing is ideally suited to meet the needs of the new generation of
customers and workers and gives the contact center industry a
much-needed alternative to traditional call routing technologies.
(The following article is a contribution
from NACC member Quality Contact Solutions. We encourage and
happily accept contributions from NACC members for our monthly In Queue
newsletter. – Ed.)
Monitoring: The Case For Quality Over Quantity
People ask me all the time, how many evaluations should be done for an
effective call monitoring program in our call center? The
mindset is the more evaluations the better. While conceptually that
makes sense, listening to more calls doesn’t make your representatives
great. In my opinion, it is the quality of the call evaluation, who
delivers the feedback to the agent and how the feedback is delivered
which impacts behavioral habits.
Using call monitoring to improve performance requires that you hire the
Call monitoring is a tedious job. Quality
Assurance (QA) Analysts are required to listen to various calls, from
various agents, at various levels of knowledge and learning. After
listening, the QA’s responsibility is to identify the gaps in knowledge
or skill and work with that agent to improve. Sounds a lot like a
coach, doesn’t it?
We’ve all seen it before. A college team that is struggling to win
changes the coach and in a matter of 1 or 2 years is crushing the
competition. That said, the “Coach” conducting call coaching sessions
Using the right call monitoring form as your playbook will ensure
everyone knows what is expected
I think of call monitoring forms can be compared to a football team’s
playbook. Everyone has one. However, a well-executing team has refined,
studied, and customized their playbook to their team, and it allows
them to win.
Not only is it important to have the right “Coach” in place, an
effective Call Monitoring Program will have the right quality
monitoring form in place also. The form must be:
• Simple to use
• Easy to understand
• Clear in expectations
Call monitoring results are more important than the quantity of
Imagine for a second you had a manager doing QA on your QA. What would
they focus on? Would it be that John listened to 200 calls today or
that John listened to calls with a purpose and properly identified gaps
for the representatives he listened to, coached those agents in a way
that gained their buy-in/understanding and built a personal
relationship with the representative that will no doubt keep you all
winning? Well, I know you would choose the latter.
I agree that there must be minimum standards for the number of calls
that a QA Analyst should monitor on a weekly basis and a minimum number
of agents that should be monitored as well. For a clear-cut
guideline, I think two calls monitored per agent every week is a good
metric to use. But don’t set a mandate for the quantity of calls to be
monitored at the expense of the quality of the coaching.
First, you need to get the right coach, then you create the right
“Playbook”, then you set a minimum expectation of call monitoring’s
completed as long as it doesn’t negatively impact the value that
“Coach” and “Playbook” bring to the table.
At QCS, we have developed countless successful call monitoring programs and playbooks.
A.J. Windle is the Director of Client Engagement at Quality Contact Solutions.
A.J. is responsible for ensuring innovation and key initiatives are
accomplished for each QCS client on an ongoing basis. A.J.’s deep
background in call center management, including training, operations
management, and his recent role as Director of Operations for QCS, is
skillfully leveraged to produce better results for each client’s
outsourced call center budget dollar. A.J. is a hands-on leader and he
loves to win! A.J can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org or 516-656-5106.
Workers: How To Gain Clear Visibility Of Productivity And Output
One issue that has given a few companies pause in the deployment of
remote workers is not having the ability to physically look over
someone's shoulder and see what they are working on at any given point
during the day. Not that we do that with any regularity in the
bricks and mortar office environment, but some leaders like to know
that they can peer over people's shoulders, if they want. And
some leaders have the notion that employees will work harder, faster,
more, if they know they are being watched.
There are obviously all kinds of problems with the feelings I describe
above (starting with emotions being a centerpiece for decisions vs.
clear employee expectations, knowing work behaviors of employees,
verifying them), but the great news is, there's new technology that's
been brought to market that gives everyone crystal clear visibility of
what remote workers are doing, and what office workers are doing - all
Low cost surveillance software that monitors and reports on sites,
applications, and work output of employees all day long, has
arrived. So, we can finally take the mystery out of just how
people spend their time at work (in office and/or at home) and do
something about it. We can actually organize the data we collect
into categories such as "productive time" (when employees are using
apps and on sites that are directly tied to work), and "other time" or
"non-work-related time." So, when someone is browsing ESPN for 10
minutes, it's captured. And we can present the same data to
employees, giving them crystal clear visibility of their time
distribution during the course of the day.
The results companies are revealing are that - everyone ends up a
little surprised. Employees don’t realize how much time they are
spending on personal or sometimes lower priority tasks during the day,
and leadership gets true clarity around how work time is
distributed. Shortly after implementation, companies are
experiencing productivity rises of 20% and higher.
Being transparent with employees is key, of course, on just why and how
the company will be utilizing the software. As long as trust is
well established, I believe this sort of visibility and
dashboard/desktop reporting on output - will become the usual course of
doing business. Trust and verify has been made much easier, and
Vendors of this monitoring and reporting technology include ActivTrak,
Microsoft Workplace Analytics, Trustsphere and Teramind. The Wall
Street Journal featured a compelling article on July 19, 2019, written
by Josh Richie.
In This Issue...
Routing & Contact Center Conundrum
Monitoring: Quality vs. Quantity
Worker Productivity & Output
"Strength does not come
from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go
through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength."
~ Arnold Schwarzenegger
NACC has been burning
the midnight oil and typing until our fingers are sore to bring out
reports to our members. Each is listed below. If you are interested to
see what we are writing about, click on the links
below and download the executive summary of each. If you like
what you see, join the NACC so that you can view these reports and
others that will be coming out soon on our website. These reports will
ensure that you know the latest trends in the industry.