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Contact Centre insights: retention and technology

Customer Service
Contact Centre

It’s an exciting day when the Madison Contact Centre teams from our CBD and South East offices come together with some of our favourite clients for an event. We had the opportunity to do just that in May with a Madison ‘Contact Centre Insights Evening’.

In the lead up to this event, Contact Centre Managers and Senior HR Business Partners completed an online survey to give us feedback on what is most important to them in the contact centre space right now. Some clear trends emerged – responses indicated that industry professionals are struggling to find top candidates and retain them once they start. We also asked which innovations our attendees were most excited about implementing. Top of that list was technology, followed closely by remote working.

Staff Retention

Becks Martin -Southern CrossAt Madison, we could talk all day about recruitment if you let us (seriously!), but we brought in the experts to discuss retention. Becks Martin, Head of Customer Service at Southern Cross, generously cleared her evening to speak to event attendees about what makes employees want to stay with an organisation for the long-term.

Becks is a big believer of making herself and the other Southern Cross senior managers relatable. They have regular team events and create clear career paths for customer service representatives, even if that means losing them to another department. Becks spoke about creating a feeling of worth and value in individual team members through encouragement and reward, making each team member part of a bigger vision. Well-integrated team members are more involved in their organisation and will likely feel more committed for the duration of their tenure.

Jason Lock, our other guest speaker for the night, also had some key insights about staff retention. He said that contact centres are often seen as inflexible working environments, but with new technological advances in the industry, contact centres can actually be an industry that works around employees’ schedules, not against it! He outlined a technology that’s working well at the moment; his customer service representatives can download an app to their phone which allows them to check their shift patterns with the tap of a button. From that platform, it’s easy for them to swap shifts or slide them a few hours earlier or later if those changes will help manage call volumes.

Innovations

Jason Lock - Westpac Jason isn’t just an app proponent with an eye for flexible working arrangements. He’s the Head of Contact Centres at Westpac and has managed over 1,000 FTEs in past roles. Jason came in to discuss the other major questions raised in survey results: technology! Industry professionals are interested in everything from artificial intelligence to webchat.

Dimension Data have found on their global Customer Experience Benchmarking Report that only 8% of organisations have all their communication channels connected, and 70% have none or very few of their channels connected. Companies are increasingly leaning towards integration and momentum is building as new technologies like webchat or chat bots are rolled out. It’s a really exciting time for a number of our clients and Jason’s team at Westpac is trying out some of those leading-edge technologies. Jason’s in-depth presentation was fascinating for contact centre managers looking to bring their systems up to speed, but Jason was also able to distil his message for those not necessarily well-versed in contact centre technology. He explained that the best technology is scalable at the push of a button; in an emergency situation, any employee at Westpac can pick up a headset and become a customer service representative.

Contact Centre Trends

Our evening wrapped up with an overview of the survey results from our own Mallory Mason, Team Leader for the Madison Contact Centre team in the CBD, and myself – Alexa Gerlach, Consultant for Contact Centres in south and east Auckland. We talked about trends we’re seeing from our clients and candidates.

From a candidate perspective, we’re seeing salary drop down on the list of priorities. Far more important is team culture and additional company perks; after all we can now all take a virtual tour of the google or Facebook offices! Clients are also expanding what it means to be a top quality candidate. In the past, a pleasant voice and a nice phone manner might have been sufficient to land a role in a contact centre. Now tech savviness, the ability to quickly navigate between systems and ideally contact centre experience or a tertiary degree are desired. These trends certainly tie in with managers’ interest in new technologies.

As with any good event, wine, nibbles and networking were plentiful, along with a good dose of new information! Watch this space for upcoming events and come and get involved in #callcentreindustry talks!