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Managing Talent in the Age of AI

Managing Talent in the Age of AI

Managing Talent in the Age of AI

How best to recruit (and retain) the next-gen contact center staff.

Adopting artificial intelligence (AI), like Generative AI, and automation is increasingly pivotal to support next-gen talent management strategies in the contact center.

Particularly, AI for agent and supervisor assistance and AI bots for tackling and automating repetitive tasks will significantly free up time, allowing supervisors to do much more valuable work, such as coaching or rewarding agents.

Best of all, with intelligent interviewing solutions powered by AI, supervisors are set up for success with top talent from the start. AI is also making business intelligence and reporting more accessible, so that organizations can quickly pinpoint and resolve issues for continuous improvement without latency.

AI for Hiring Top Talent

AI and automation are transforming talent management in the contact center, and it couldn’t come at a better time for several reasons.

The critical need for organizations to attract, nurture, and retain quality talent in today’s challenging job market is not lost on contact center leaders. Particularly when considering the high cost and effort to hire and onboard new contact center agents coupled with the industry’s historically high turnover rates and, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the slowdown in the growth of available workers.

In addition, the role of contact center agents has evolved as the importance of the call center is increasingly transitioning to a value center, requiring a more highly-skilled, sophisticated workforce to manage complex customer inquiries.

Customers with urgent and complicated issues often select live assistance over self-service options. For those interactions, agents need fast and easy access to searchable knowledge bases, tutorials, and automated real-time guidance.

Given these challenges, the tasks handled by today’s contact center agent have evolved significantly, requiring both hard and soft skills.

  • Hard skills include the ability to multitask and manage customer interactions on multiple channels simultaneously. Today’s agents also need to intuitively navigate contact center and CRM software tools and be familiar with the products and services offered.
  • Soft skills include language proficiency, engagement, enthusiasm, empathy, and alertness to deliver an exceptional customer experience (CX).

As previously discussed, advances in intelligent interviewing solutions powered by AI are becoming fundamental to help secure and onboard the best talent from the start and then to ensure their ongoing development and engagement.

Intelligent interviewing solutions use voice, advanced predictive modeling, and analytics to help contact centers pre-assess a candidate’s job-related performance. These applications enable virtual pre-interviews, job simulation, language assessment, usage of knowledge management systems, and more.

...the tasks handled by today’s contact center agent have evolved significantly, requiring both hard and soft skills.

Not only do intelligent interviewing solutions make it easier and faster to engage and evaluate candidates, but they also help hire agents who are most likely to succeed in the jobs. Statistics show that candidates who perform well on the pre-employment assessment tests are employed longer and perform better at their jobs.

AI for Greater Agent and Supervisor Assistance

Kicking off the agent lifecycle with top candidates is just the tip of the iceberg for how AI and automation is changing the game for contact center talent management. It’s also helping with coaching and training in the moment.

When customer service interactions involve negative sentiments, escalations, long silences, or multiple interruptions, real-time coaching bots can provide AI-driven, real-time guidance based on acoustic (nonverbal), linguistic (verbal), and desktop activity to employees working from anywhere (also see Box).

Remote Agents and Talent Management

With many contact center agents still working from home (WFH) - or in a hybrid environment - remote contact centers layer additional factors into the talent management equation.

  • Agents feeling isolated or disconnected from their team.
  • Agents may have a more distraction-filled environment at home.
  • Will an agent be able to work as efficiently and successfully away from their manager’s direct line of sight?

Organizations need to adapt both their tools and their approaches for WFH agents to ensure success.

  • Implementing WFH assessments provide a necessary understanding of a remote agent’s infrastructure (stable internet, audio, and network connectivity, for example).
  • Support, engagement, training, and coaching practices must be adapted for virtual delivery.
  • Investments in technology (such as AI-driven coaching bots), for example, to support and engage with your virtual teams.

Automated quality management comes into play and complements real-time guidance capabilities. A team of quality bots automatically and continuously evaluates up to 100% of voice and text interactions against your scoring rules, with its AI-powered scoring bots.

These bots help identify non-compliance or performance issues, which then triggers training and/or one-to-one coaching sessions that are automatically scheduled with the supervisor and agent.

Supervisors now have real-time data versus anecdotal observations to drive agent feedback during coaching sessions. Plus, knowing that the feedback agents receive in their coaching is based on actual activity data, and that everyone else on the team is being assessed on the same data, goes a long way to building trust between agents and supervisors.

AI Bots Improve Agent Experience

There are many parts of contact center agent work that are time-consuming and less than inspiring.

For example, agents spend some of their time doing “interaction wrap-up” work also referred to as “after-call” work. Much of this time is dependent on manual interaction summarization that can leave gaps in completeness and usability for the next agent. Moreover, the time agents spend between calls can cost companies millions of dollars in additional labor.

New interaction wrap-up bots are dramatically reducing the amount of after-call work through the innovative capabilities of Generative AI. The bot uses deep learning to provide real-time transcription accuracy that is fed into Generative AI algorithms, such as ChatGPT, for automatic interaction summarization.

These solutions reduce agent time lost to creating manual summaries, standardize the summary format approach to optimize usability by future agents, and elevate the CX by minimizing time lost in reviewing previous interaction outcomes.

In addition, new interaction transfer bots can be used to provide seamless transitions from self-service to assisted service. At times, the interaction is transferred to an agent, who needs to fully understand the situation.

Previously, to accomplish this critical function, the agent had to take time to read a transcript of the bot conversation or, worse, ask the customer to repeat the information that was just relayed to the bot.

But with an interaction transfer bot, the agent is instantly presented with a summary of the self-service interaction, making it easy to quickly understand the reason for the transfer. This reduces AHTs and increases customer satisfaction scores.

Perfecting Performance Management

Organizations are increasingly investing in AI, analytics, and other data-driven initiatives to scale CX automation, but the truth is that data silo challenges still exist, creating barriers for agent performance and management.

In response, AI-powered central data hubs are helping organizations unify, manage, and access large amounts of siloed customer engagement data.

...talent management is being supercharged with AI embedded into business process workflows...

Agents and supervisors can freely explore their organization’s engagement data using a highly intuitive, search-driven interface powered by natural language search and Generative AI: no data analyst required.

Now, contact center leaders can effortlessly monitor key performance indicators, track customer interactions and experiences, and analyze agent performance. These insights allow agent supervisors to enhance customer experiences and maximize operational efficiency.

AI is Changing the Game

Talent management is the bedrock of the modern contact center to support the delivery of exceptional CXs across all engagement channels.

Today, talent management is being supercharged with AI embedded into business process workflows to maximize automation.

With these tools working behind the scenes, agent supervisors can focus first and foremost on agent coaching in the moments that matter for greater agent performance, which leads to greater job satisfaction, improved agent retention, and overall better customer and employee experience.

Tricia Manning

Tricia Manning

With more than 25 years of B2B technology experience, Tricia Manning is director, go-to-market strategy at Verint and specializes in quality and compliance.

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