While there’s no arguing that automation of low-skill tasks in contact centers is a trend that is gaining momentum and a strategy that’s important to explore. But, it’s also important to remember that your agents need to be on board with this strategy too. In a market defined by record low unemployment and high competition for talent, retaining key agents can be a competitive advantage. Don’t let your move to automation drive up attrition and take away that advantage.
Instead, adopt a lesson from industry leaders experienced in deploying self-service strategies and earn the support of your staff before you conceptualize what you will be automating. That’s done by tuning into the why and how of the automation journey.
1. Make employees part of the why.
Employee engagement is paramount to any business transformation effort. Transparency is key. The real magic is in translating your why into something your front line can grab onto and promote alongside you.
One of the primary reasons employees leave a company is because they don’t feel valued or challenged.1 A strong foundation is built when employees not only feel valued for their skills, but also for their ability to communicate well, focus on the real issues requiring complex problem solving, and maintain a high degree of emotional intelligence along the way. Anyone can reset a password or check an order status. It takes true moxie to resolve an in depth challenge facing a customer, and transform their experience into a game changer. Employees should understand that a move to automation is not meant to replace them. Instead, it’s meant to create more opportunities for them to focus on more complex issues and use their communication and problem solving skills to the fullest.
2. Answer “What’s in it for me?”
Employees want to know what’s in it for them, especially as fears arise about what automation means for future job security. Make them part of the process by adopting a hands on approach. Closed-loop employee input is a great way to involve employees and gain excitement early in the self-service adoption process.
Make ongoing conversations with employees a priority to learn what challenges recur daily and what prevents true resolution.2 Ask what could be automated to improve the customer experience and improve focus on the more complex issues. Often times, the largest systemic flaws are identified in these meetings. You’ll walk away with a gold mine of information and employees will feel valued, trusted and, most importantly, heard.
Fact check the feedback against repeat calls, resolution rates, NPS scores and CSAT scores to demonstrate the ROI for the investments needed to correct the issue. Then go forth to develop your action plan. Don’t forget to close the loop – use your regular meetings to share your action plan and progress, ensuring it is understandable to those it will impact the most.
3. Create a passion for self-service.
Keep employees excited about a self-service culture by cultivating a campaign and infrastructure with them in mind. A few easy checks will ensure you’re doing just that.
- a. Are you including hands-on classroom training on new applications, with skills verification and proficiency checks?
- b. What is your strategy for ongoing training when your website, app or other self-service tools are updated? Have you invested in a mobile learning lab?
- c. Are your call center goals aligned with the move to self-service?
- d. How are you rewarding and recognizing employees for use and promotion of self-service channels?
When employees understand why and how a process like automation makes both their lives and the customers’ lives easier, they will be more likely to not only to adopt, but to promote it. Following these key guidelines to involve employees in the early phases of your journey toward automation will help increase your chances of success as you adopt a self-service strategy that will transform your business.