The concept of a digital transformation for contact centers is currently creating a lot of buzz within the industry. Center leaders considering this strategy as a way to meet strict cost reduction goals must also consider the impact on agents and customers. While digital is touted to be effective for cost reduction and even improving some aspects of the customer experience, it won’t be enough to tackle what’s left after self-service options have been exhausted. Keeping up with high customer expectations will still require the knowledge and emotional skills of agents.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of customer service representatives is projected to grow 5 percent from 2016 to 2026. So, the question becomes, how can you optimize your workforce and operations in a way that works in tandem with digital initiatives?

Set the Foundation for the Modern Center
A strategic plan will balance the need for properly implementing appropriate digital technologies while also optimizing and integrating center operations.

Real-time intraday automation solutions help build the foundation of the modern center. Companies optimize operations by automating a broad range of use cases that impact key productivity drivers (shrinkage, handle time, occupancy, and volume) and also drive agent performance and engagement.

The following capabilities are essential when optimizing operations within the modern center:

1. Real-time integrations to systems that manage supply and demand (WFM, ACD, LMS, chat, email and others)
2. High-performance, real-time, scalable transaction processor (solution executes millions of real-time transactions per day)
3. Real-time workforce optimization rules platform (provides capability to execute high-value and industry specific use cases) that supports business and agent initiated actions
4. Proven real-time cost reduction and agent use cases across a variety of systems and devices, including an agent’s desktop and mobile

The results are significant cost reduction and agent performance and engagement benefits, in addition to a better customer experience, all of which are made possible only through a finely tuned and integrated digital and center operation.

Proven Use Cases Improve Agent Performance and Reduce Operating Costs
Customer calls and inquiries will only continue to increase in complexity. According to a recent Calabrio report, “The Health of the Contact Center,” 32 percent of contact center employees surveyed believe that customer problems will only become increasingly difficult over the next two years, and 45 percent worry customers will expect even more from companies.

Ongoing training is a must to prepare a better frontline workforce to help customers resolve their more complicated issues. With intraday automation, you can deliver direct and targeted training in real time, based on performance, to agent desktops when specific conditions, like service levels, allow it. This live interaction will help improve customer satisfaction without jeopardizing service levels.

Reduce Handle Time
Agents need to have time after calls to wrap up their notes and document customer concerns. However, agents may spend too much time in After Call Work (ACW) to avoid taking calls. By leveraging automation, you can address this behavior by delivering a prompt to those agents hiding out in ACW, asking if they need help. If they respond “no” then you can remind them to wrap up and return to assisting customers. Ensuring agents are staying productive helps further reduce costs.

Improve Productivity and Reduce Shrinkage
A real-time platform can impact productivity by offering agents early lunch/shift breaks. This one action reduces the number of calls that run over an agent’s scheduled shift end time, thereby improving adherence and minimizing overtime payroll. The system simply prevents calls from routing to agents within a predefined time threshold. For instance, if AHT is 5 minutes and an agent’s shift ends within that time frame, a desktop popup will ask whether they would like to clock out early. If they accept the offer, the agent’s schedule is updated and the exception is automatically recorded.

On the supervisor’s end, this streamlines exception entry. Whenever an employee is late or runs past their scheduled shift time, the supervisor must log a schedule exception by manually typing in the reason it occurred. For those who manage large teams, keying these entries amounts to significant shrinkage over time. One communications company eliminated 500,000 exceptions in a single year with automation.

Streamline Omni-channel Service Delivery to Improve Occupancy
It is tricky forecasting and predicting volume for multiple service delivery channels, but it is crucial to have a solution in place to quickly shift resources and keep up with demand. Intraday automation helps contact centers improve their omnichannel strategies by balancing resources across channels in response to volume fluctuation, effectively maintaining service levels and improving customer satisfaction.

Reduce Volume
Having your agents proactively reach out to your customers can reduce the amount of volume coming into your center, but it may not seem feasible as the days become hectic and schedules become busy. With intraday automation, agents will receive automated prompts to their computers during idle time, asking them to begin outbound calling. Once volume picks up again, agents will then receive a prompt to return to taking phone calls. The automated process ensures service levels are met and customers are receiving quick service.

Utilizing intraday automation in tandem with a digital solution is the roadmap to achieving cost and service optimization. Simply going digital isn’t an option with the growing complexities of today’s contact center environment. In fact, more than 60% of customer-care leaders surveyed are skeptical about eliminating inbound voice calls in the next ten years, according to a recent McKinsey report. And for good reason: call center agents greatly impact customer experience and buying decisions. So, why wouldn’t you want to optimize center operations and development of these critical assets?