Opinion: Digital disruption empowering the next-generation workforce

by Contributor17 Jun 2016
Organisations are having to become more focused and responsive to the needs of customers as they are increasingly more digitally connected and to meet their expectations of near instantaneous answers and action. But the creation of a consistently positive customer service environment requires engaged and equipped employees, as Michael Stelzer writes.

As digital disruption has affected the way customers conduct business and their lives, it has had the same effect on the workforce - particularly with Millennials, who make up the majority of contact center employees and who need access to information and user interfaces similar to what they use personally. This digitally savvy workforce is more comfortable operating in a multi-channel environment, therefore fostering the need for organisations to optimise and empower their next-generation employee workforce to be responsive to customer demands.

To create an engaged workforce, employees need to be empowered to do their best for continuous improvement, to inspire customer interactions and greater loyalty, and to contribute to overall business performance. Culturally, it is important to let employees know they are customer champions and are playing a signficant role as they deliver the great experiences that lead to brand satisfaction. Engaged employees are key to driving customer engagement and the customer experience. 

Organisations need to give employees access to the data and solutions they need to be customer champions. Importantly, employees must be fully trained in and comfortable with the technologies they will be leveraging to support great experiences.

The right information and tools, and knowing how to use them
Successful organisations are empowering employees with data and analytics to reduce customer effort and help support all aspects of customer engagement. This can include the provision of customer journey insights or access to analytics-driven data that delivers required information in real time and results in improved experiences. Access to analytics will continue to drive areas like self-service, social and mobile customer engagement, and direct digital interactions across channels such as chat and video.

Providing employees with tools to make interaction more personal and productive often involves taking the context of previous interactions and providing actionable recommendations to the agent. This context may exist in many places within the organisation, but the information needs to be readily available, irrespective of its location and age. Customers know the context of their interactions and expect the companies they engage with to know it too.

One aspect of this dynamic is the importance of integrating system information so it can be readily available to the agent. For example, records containing billing and shipping data may be on legacy technology and need to be woven into current channels of engagement and available on the employee desktop.

Flexiblity and empowerment for an engaged workforce
Just as organisations must upgrade legacy systems and integrate customer data, digital disruption requires rethinking traditional approaches to the workforce. The full-time, nine-to-five job is becoming obsolete. Both organisations and employees are adjust their expectations of work hours and work places. Progressive companies are becoming highly distributed thanks to connectivity and technology, now enabling performance and workforce optimisation.

It’s well understood that to build an engaged workforce, employees need to be empowered to perform better. Providing employees with visibility into their performance, to better understand how their behaviors impact the organisation’s bottom line, can contribute significantly to creating a happy workforce.

Access to daily scorecards showing individual metrics against goals helps employees understand how their contributions fit into the bigger picture. This encourages appropriate work/life balance by accommodating flexibility requirements for choosing schedules and trading shifts. It goes a long way towards creating employee contentment, especially if the process is eased by mobile access.

Solutions that automatically prioritise the next work item helps employees to seamlessly shift between different types of work—such as customer calls, chat sessions, emails and other non-customer facing work. When employees are given access to customer history and account information, they can be empowered with next-best action recommendations and can personalise the experiences for customers, allowing employees to have a positive and visible impact on customer satisfaction.

Leveraging tools that provide paths to improved service levels reduces employee stress, overtime and errors. In addition, with less escalation and the need for crisis management, managers can focus on driving more productive work.

About the author
Michael Stelzer is vice president, Australia and New Zealand, Verint Systems