As contact center environments have become more complex, strategic business leaders are looking for innovative ways to spend less and make customers happier.

A recent study by Aberdeen Group shows intraday automation might be the magic bullet – or at least the secret sauce – to how leading contact centers are managing their workforces to better serve customers.

In 2012, Aberdeen surveyed contact center executives about their top concerns. The primary objective of most respondents (65%) was improving agent productivity and performance. But in a similar survey last year, the number one objective had changed. Over half (59%) of respondents said their top concern was enhancing the customer experience and creating happier customers.

The first step to improving the customer experience is creating and managing a work environment that helps agents become better performers. In fact, the Aberdeen study found that better technology tools to conduct day to day tasks was the most important to agents – even over increased compensation.

I had the pleasure of hosting a recent webinar with Omer Minkara, research director at Aberdeen Group. His take on intraday automation technology is simple: it makes sense. As he put it, “it helps [employees/agents] do their jobs better, which helps them keep their jobs. Compensation and benefits will follow.”

So, what tools and strategies are leading contact centers using today and how do they maximize the benefits of these technologies? What will drive customer care executives in 2016 and beyond?

Customer Experience the Main Driver

Of those surveyed, 93% of respondents said that better customer experience results and making sure the customer experience is consistent across multiple channels is today’s top objective.

WFO executives are also looking at how to reduce the customer’s effort for issue resolution (75%), improving agent productivity and performance (81%), and tying that back to improving the overall customer experience.

Ultimately, if agents are unable to perform, customer needs are not met and unhappy customers can go to social media outlets to share their negative experience. And that damages brand equity, and no company wants that.

The Multi-channel Challenge

The main challenge for many organizations is that today’s customers demand more personalized and timely service across multiple channels. Agents must be able to understand customers’ needs and respond in real-time in whatever channel the customer prefers to communicate. This not only requires ongoing training and coaching, but also new technology tools.

Leading companies – defined by high FCR rates and year over year improvement in customer satisfaction and AHT – are using innovative methods to increase agent productivity, generate revenue by providing agents with the information they need to cross sell and upsell, and create positive buzz from customers on social media.

The Intraday Automation Solution

According to the research, intraday automation is among the top workforce optimization strategies deployed by leading firms to help them succeed. The Aberdeen report cites the two top objectives for leading firms: adopting an intraday automation program to streamline contact center WFO activities (41%) and customizing training/retraining of agents based on individual assessments (41%).

Omer points out that as customers’ needs are changing so rapidly, organizations need to make sure that agents’ skills are also changing so they can address those needs and retain customers. For companies using intraday automation, customer retention rates are almost double of those not using it.

So, what is the secret sauce? For Intradiem’s Intraday Automation users, it’s a number of “sauces” and activities.

  • Intraday Automation aggregates natural idle time between calls, providing an automated way to convert idle time to productive time for training and coaching agents. 
  • By automating manual processes in the contact center, agents become a real-time workforce that can quickly adapt and respond to changing conditions and events throughout the day.
  • Workforce managers no longer have to manually monitor and react to events, which allows them to better manage overtime and voluntary time off, as well as being able to automate when agents acquire new skills so they can be put to work immediately.
  • Agents are empowered, more productive, and can focus on the customer’s unique needs to drill down to each resolution, while also cross-selling and upselling products and services.

Intraday automation users also see a greater number of referrals, increased agent productivity and compliance, more positive social buzz, and lower overall service costs. But that isn’t all.

On our webinar, Omer said it quite succinctly: “Our research shows that companies providing agents with training on how to improve the customer experience are able to retain their customers year over year, drive more revenue, boost client loyalty, and also increase revenue twice as much compared to companies not training their agents appropriately with customer experience objectives.”

It’s clear by the numbers that intraday automation is capable of producing some dramatic results for customer experience, agents and the entire business.