Key Insights For The Contact Centre Of The Future, From Leaders In Australia, New Zealand, And Worldwide

Published: Fri 17 Nov 2023 11:00 AM
The contact centre industry is a cornerstone in the nation’s service-oriented economy, encompassing diverse sectors from telecommunications to finance. With millions employed, it significantly bolsters the nation’s workforce. In the last few years, two powerful forces have been reshaping the way agents work: the rise of remote-based operations; with over 90% of centres successfully implementing remote work arrangements and the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI).
In Australia and New Zealand, contact centres grapple with the universal challenges of attracting and retaining top talent, all while equipping frontline staff with the flexibility and AI-powered tools they need to excel.
Advanced technologies, as revealed in a survey by the Australian Customer Service Association, are used by 85% of centres to optimise operations. These tools integrate real-time data analytics, ensuring resource allocation for optimal service levels. Far from replacing human agents, AI is transforming their roles, making it imperative to equip them with the right skills and tools.
Calabrio has launched its State of the Contact Centre 2023 Report highlighting the critical aspects of this transformation and how it can be harnessed to benefit both agents and the state of the industry.
The report discloses that contact centres in this region are steadily gaining prominence (14%), with the majority acknowledging that remote work is positively impacting customer experiences (CX). Interestingly, the integration of AI-driven technology is poised to necessitate more, not fewer, agents in the future. In fact, a quarter of contact centres in Australia and New Zealand anticipate AI leading to an increased need for agents in the next 1-5 years, with an additional 34% foreseeing this trend continuing in 5-10 years.
Given these dynamics, how should contact centre leaders prepare their frontline teams for success?
Contact centres in ANZ are known for their pragmatism. When queried about the crucial skills for agent preparedness in the future, critical thinking abilities like problem-solving and troubleshooting took the lead (60%), closely followed by adaptability and a commitment to continuous learning (59%). Embracing technology judiciously is key. It’s not about adopting every new tool, but rather selecting the right ones that enhance operations. Regularly measuring and tracking key metrics provides invaluable insights into performance, enabling data-driven decision-making that propels the centre toward success.
Rather than replacing human workers, AI is set to bolster the contact centre workforce. A significant 70% of contact centre managers anticipate a rise in agent numbers over the next ten years. They acknowledge AI’s capacity to amplify agent skills and heighten managerial efficiency – streamlining scheduling, furnishing valuable analytics for performance assessment, and delivering instant resources for customer inquiries. This interplay between AI and agents lays the foundation for the future-ready contact centre.2) Prioritise Employee Engagement and Wellbeing
Ensuring agent contentment and engagement is pivotal for a thriving contact centre. A nurturing work environment with open communication, recognition, and growth opportunities is vital. Engagement isn’t just about retention; it’s fundamental to agent effectiveness. Disengagement leads to reduced productivity and higher attrition, whether in-office or remote.
Providing tools for stress management and instilling a sense of control are key to their success. In times of stress, critical thinking (23%) and adaptability/learning (22%) are most affected, as per the State of the Contact Centre Survey 2023. AI plays a vital role in mitigating this strain, automating tasks and offering real-time support, ultimately enhancing agent satisfaction and well-being.3) Continuous Training and Development
Empower agents with essential skills and knowledge for excellence. Astonishingly, only 17% of managers believe all agents possess these critical skills. To bridge this gap, intensifying the focus on new skills, alongside technical proficiency and empathetic attributes, is imperative. In fact, research has shown that contact centres in ANZ consider training as the number one strategy to enhance agent engagement.
Beyond onboarding, targeted, proactive training proves essential for sustained success. Identifying areas for improvement and incremental steps can yield significant positive transformation. This learning culture ensures a team of adaptable professionals, keeping them abreast of industry trends and evolving customer needs. Present strategies include heightening employee satisfaction with training opportunities (43%) and onboarding agents with aptitude skills to meet customer demands (40%).4) Emphasise Adaptability and Critical Thinking
Agent success hinges on preparedness, especially in handling challenges. Prioritising adaptability and critical thinking through rigorous training and coaching equips agents to adeptly navigate any situation.
In gearing agents for the future, adaptability/continuous learning and critical thinking emerge as pivotal skills. These proficiencies ensure agents remain productive, ready, and engaged. As the industry progresses, so should the skills of its workforce. Continuous investment in training is vital, empowering agents to confidently tackle intricate scenarios.
Implementing these approaches empowers contact centre leaders to establish a robust and prosperous operation, ultimately benefiting both their team members and the customers they serve.
In preparing for the future contact centre, success hinges on understanding the evolving landscape and arming agents with the requisite skills and tools. Embracing AI as a valuable asset, committing to continuous training, and prioritising agent engagement not only ensures the success of agents but also forms the bedrock for outstanding customer interactions.

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