A customer contact is a service that mobilises several resources to handle the remote relationship between a company, an organisation and its customers. Today’s call center mainly deals with direct communication by combining telephony and IT.
In today’s world customers are changing and, with them, the media used to contact customer services. Telephone and e-mail are still the most used channels.
They are however declining in favour of messaging, self-care tools and social networks, which offer new modes of interaction.
In order to cope with this situation, the skills and competencies in Contact Centres must evolve to meet new challenges. The first one to be: technological.
Customer contact agent profile
People working in call centers are coming from very various education and backgrounds.
Despite the fact that the majority have only a high school diploma (37%), 21% have an associate degree and 26% have a bachelor’s degree.
Call centre work has attracted an increasing number of young people and university graduates over the last ten years.
There are several reasons for this, including the lack of experience, criteria when hiring, the high salary, and the possibility of advancement if the worker performs well.
This environment is also appealing to people who enjoy working with multilingual colleagues.
Pros and Cons
The growth of “customer contact service,” whether integrated or not, demonstrates how essential these services are.
Agents consider that their work is interesting, that it is a “real job” and a job that is changing rapidly.
Most of the companies offer flexible working hours depending on the availability of the workers. They can work in the early afternoon, early evening, late evening or even telework depending on their availability. This allows them to continue their studies and still make ends meet at the end of each month. Other companies cancel the possibility of negotiating working hours but offer recuperation days.
The remuneration is also interesting with good working conditions.
Nevertheless, it is accompanied by numerous dysfunctions: considerable turnover, stress at work, permanent understaffing, blocked careers and unattractive wages.
Companies report an increase in agent burnout and low morale;
This is possibly due to the fact that call center agents endure a lot of stress while dealing with hundreds of calls every day. Sometimes with unhappy customers.
How is a customer contact today?
The tasks of a call centre revolve around customer service, finding solutions to customer problems, carrying out transactions, customer satisfaction surveys, and reminding customers who have not yet paid their last installment…
Whatever the task of an employee working in these companies, his or her main objective must be performance. This translates into the steps in customer loyalty and satisfaction for all calls and requests. This requires interpersonal and technical skills in the ability to handle and solve emergency calls effectively. High-performing employees must also be able to achieve the stated call-taking or sales targets.
Operators working in these centers must therefore be both capable of meeting the expected quality of service.
Promptness in receiving calls, knowledge of the company’s products in order to quickly find the appropriate solution, good interpersonal skills, etc.) and capable of achieving production.
In order to enable call centre operators to maximise their productivity. These call centres will therefore have to master both technology and human resources.
The automatic call distributor must be able to ensure an immediate response to all calls or to broadcast a waiting message if all the call centre agents are busy.
The equipment should also be able to monitor incoming calls. Distribute calls evenly across multiple call numbers and compile data such as waiting time, the number of calls received, etc. Finally, it should be noted that the skills of the teleoperators guarantee a satisfactory quality of service, but their lack also impacts the structure’s performance and turnover.
Today’s new tools
The performance of a today’s customer service is largely based on the quality of the tools it uses to perform its tasks. To that end, it must use state-of-the-art technologies, such as a CRM and other customer-relationship-specific software.
These types of tools not only ensure the quality of the service but also simplify the tasks of the workers. They offer the possibility of automating a good number of functions.
So that the teleoperator can focus mainly on the exchanges with his interlocutor and thus obtain the best results on each of his actions.
In today’s world of rapidly evolving technologies and new ways of communications. Agents must adapt and overcome issues related to stress and the job menaces.
This means they need to be better trained but also for the front-line managers to have better coaching skills. It is also highly important to improve recruiting practices, such as personality and emotional intelligence testing, to find the right talents.
Operators often have to respond to aggressive customers, and it is desirable that they be trained in conflict management.
The management must be attentive to staff in difficulty and refer them to the occupational health service if they have health problems likely to be linked to their work.
Changing and improving the stereotypical image of call centers and bringing a positive work environment could help as well in this process.