Who will work in the Contact Centre of the Future? In this second part of our series, Ashley Burton, Head of Product at Eckoh, profiles the Agent of the Future – and the exciting ways they will evolve.
Last time in our series, we talked about the Customer of the Future and the kind of experiences they will demand. But what about the Agent of the Future?
The big secret to figuring out this one is to realise they’re basically the same people with the same ‘digital first’ mindset, inhabiting the same ‘always on’ connected world. Put simply, the customers and the agents are opposite sides of the same coin.
In the future, contact centres will no longer be confined to large buildings full of people on industrial estates. Agents will be able to work from any location at any time — securely and reliably, opening up the possibility of home workers, remote workers and opportunistic satellite offices in co-working spaces such as WeWork.
Agents will also be able to use whatever devices or communication channels suit them best, offering their skills in their preferred channel to their employers via a demand-based model. Agents may not even be constrained to fixed shift patterns. They'll often work shorter hours but provide a more valuable service by working as and when needed. This will enable contact centres to adapt to changes in workload by instantly adding capacity when needed and scaling back when it’s quiet.
In this disparate environment, collaboration is key. But the tools provided to agents should still make sure they feel part of the wider team as well as their individual sub-teams, so they are supported by their peers. But support isn’t only human, agents will be supported both visibly and invisibly by AI assistants, automating simple contacts, helping to suggest knowledge content, optimising workload and keeping an eye on the agent’s wellbeing using sentiment analysis.
Emotional load balancing will ensure that agents aren’t bombarded by upset or angry customers making complaints, preventing agents from receiving too many negative contacts in a row and providing a ‘warm up’ and ‘cool down’ phase to each shift so they end the day on a good note.
The use of AI for automation will free up agents from having to deal with basic and repetitive queries, allowing them to take on the richer and more complex queries. But they can also create personal relationships with customers as true knowledge workers rather than just parroting back the corporate scripted answers and handing off calls to other departments.
Agent activity will also generate streams of interaction data that can be used to analyse and optimise customer journeys, identify coaching opportunities and predict outcomes. Agents will no longer exist in fixed, immovable departments but be dynamically allocated to contacts based on their historical success with a particular contact type, fluctuating demand or their own personal preferences.
With the increase in complexity, agents will need the tools to move seamlessly between channels and workloads all within a single familiar and appropriate agent desktop solution.
Ultimately, the world of Ambient Customer Engagement will be served by the Agent of the Future with flexible technology allowing organisations to provide seamless, instant automated and human support whenever customers want to reach out.
So how will the Contact Centre of the Future be run? See Part 3 in our series – The Managers.
If you like the way we’re thinking, take a look at the Eckoh Experience Portal. It gives contact centres all the channels and payment solutions they need to transform customer engagement, protect data and achieve PCI DSS compliance. With new services and features becoming available when they’re needed, you can keep up with soaring customer expectations and maximise satisfaction – without having to rip and replace your systems endlessly. Everything you need can be added quickly, easily and cost effectively.
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