With customer experience taking centre stage within the contact centre space, it is becoming increasingly important to have the right technology and software to support first class service.

“With a heavy focus being placed on customer satisfaction and engagement, the important role that the satisfaction and engagement of a contact centre agent plays in achieving superlative customer care is being dangerously disregarded,” says Ebrahim Dinat, COO at contact centre solutions provider, Ocular Technologies.

According to the Aberdeen report “Agent Desktop Optimization”, a lack of effective technology tools is the number one factor influencing agent experience. In fact, companies are almost twice as likely to cite ineffective technology tools as a primary factor influencing agent experience, compared to agent compensation and benefits.

“The sole focus on a happy customer thus needs to quickly change to one that embraces achieving both a satisfied customer and a contented agent. A positive is that today’s workforce optimisation (WFO) tools have evolved dramatically, and implementing these new technologies will empower agents to deliver the great and quality service desired by organisations. Another outcome of these sophisticated WFO tools is especially noteworthy, as it changes the role of the traditional contact centre agent to one of subject matter expert,” adds Dinat.

Aspect Software – whose fully-integrated consumer engagement, workforce optimisation and back-office solutions are distributed and implemented in southern Africa by its partner company Ocular Technologies – has identified five innovations in WFO that will have a measurable impact on the kind of service your agents deliver.

Aspect lists these in its e-book, “5 workforce optimization innovations that will change your contact center”, as:

Innovation #1: WFO for the omni-channel contact centre
Over the decades, workforce optimisation solutions have evolved to include some very sophisticated and effective tools, but these tools are designed to work with only one channel: voice. While customers still call companies for help, a growing number are chatting, texting and even tweeting. In fact, of the most popular customer interaction channels, use of voice for customer service is showing no growth while IM/ Chat is growing at a rate of 13 percent per year according to Forrester Research.

Innovation #2: A modern user experience for agents and supervisors
Roughly 60 percent of agents are Millennials or younger. Technology dominates their lives and they have little patience for outdated systems that hold them back from doing their jobs. Yet, WFO applications are complex and historically difficult to use, which stands in stark contrast to the user interfaces they are accustomed to. Simple tasks such as viewing and changing schedules should be fast and easy, but most WFO solutions use outdated user interfaces that create frustration and impact both agent and supervisor morale. They also result in the underutilisation of powerful WFO features. In fact, the same workforce optimisation systems that are designed to get the most out of the workforce often become barriers to productivity because they are so hard to use.

Innovation #3: Mobile WFO tools
Smartphones keep us connected and productive – in our lives and our jobs.
The new generation of WFO solutions includes mobile apps that give contact centre staff anytime access to the information they need. The ability to remotely monitor, stay informed and quickly communicate from anywhere is critical to adapting to and efficiently managing fluctuations in the contact centre.

Innovation #4: WFO in the cloud
With growth rates in excess of 20 percent, contact centres across the globe are increasingly recognising the compelling advantages of moving their infrastructure to the cloud. What was considered an optimisation experiment just a few years ago has now become a legitimate and critical business strategy for many enterprises. As companies struggle to provide better service across more channels, workforce optimisation remains one of the most important support tools for contact centres.

Innovation #5: Bridging the gap from the front office to the back office
For many years, enterprises have been developing workforce optimisation tools to improve the quality and speed of customer interactions in the front office. It’s only in the past several years that enterprises have come to realise the huge labour savings and improved customer experience possible with back office optimisation tools. DMG Consulting estimates that operational costs can be reduced by 20 to 40 percent when introducing workforce tools into back office operations. Research by European Business Review shows that about 60 percent of the knowledge needed for a good customer experience resides in the back office. It’s clear that the customer experience delivered by the front office is largely dependent upon the quality of work and speed delivered by the back office.

“Being cognisant of the innovative technologies that are available and providing your contact centre agents with these sophisticated tools, thus not only empowers them to provide your desired brand service, but also boosts business profits by creating a culture of productivity,” concludes Dinat.