Companies Need to Look Into One Workforce

With so much unpredictability affecting consumer preferences, there's no normal for which business leaders can aim with customer engagement strategies. Managing rising volumes of customer interactions and an influx of engagement channels is challenging, and businesses must find a way to create exceptional experiences to maintain happy and loyal relationships.

Customer engagement success is predicated on organizations embracing a channel-less mentality and a one-workforce approach to orchestrate the entire customer engagement workforce—both humans and bots—across the organization to meet today's customer engagement needs.

Findings from a recent Verint study show that 82 percent of companies plan to increase automation to manage the increasing volume of customer interactions. It's clearly a key tool in helping companies scale customer interactions involving multiple touchpoints, from modern digital channels such as messaging or chat to interactive voice response menus on customer service phone lines.

With a one-workforce approach, businesses no longer need to organize workforces by channels and dedicate teams to individual channels, something that can create organizational silos and pockets of inefficiency and limit customer journey flexibility. A one-workforce approach helps orchestrate the workforce as one large pool of resources and allocate the right work to the right resource at the right time.

The benefits are a high-quality customer experience, no matter which channel is used or which type of employee (human, bot, hybrid) handles the engagement. A one-workforce approach amplifies workforce efficiencies through an any-agent/any-channel workforce and improves scheduling flexibility and onboarding of additional channels as well as shared services and hybrid workforce models.

Unlocking the One-Workforce Advantage

The one-workforce approach helps companies increase capacity, flexibility, and agility. A problem among many companies today is that there are silos, not just between branches, contact centers, back offices, and social media teams, but also within the contact centers themselves. Each of these groups has a skill set that enables it engage with customers in the right ways. Businesses want to make sure they can take advantage of all the skill sets across the organization to engage with customers in the right place at the right time, regardless of where they are located.

With the accelerating shift to digital, there are more channels, every engagement modality brings new interactions and new experience types that create more types of work and more silos. So, this problem is getting worse in multiple dimensions.

This leads to peaks and valleys in workforce coverage, a concern that is more critical given today's staffing challenges. It's imperative to make sure companies are taking advantage of the total capacity of the entire organization. This requires converging all these channels, all these modalities, and all these people into one workforce to help support customers.

With current siloed systems, customer engagements can break down every time there is a transfer between silos. But if all these areas interconnect, customers can pick up where they left off whenever they change channels to communicate.

Interconnecting channels is becoming more crucial. Consider this: On their smartphones, customers can easily change between channels; organizations need to offer the same capability on their end.

It's important to have the ability to get work to the right person at the right time. But more than that, agents need to have the right tools to do their jobs. When they have the right tools and the right support, employees can turn jobs into careers because their employer supports job mobility and career pathing, which are extremely important in today's challenging labor market.

A great employee experience is one of the key drivers of a great customer experience. Giving employees the right tools and the right job perspectives to do what they need to do will help the customer experience as well.

Once an organization applies this one-workforce approach, it benefits from enhanced customer experience insights. It will also help the organization leverage the skills of different agents, much like a football team looks to maximize the skills of its different players. It's creating the optimal plans to have the right staff across one workforce.

Four Steps to Moving to a One-Workforce Model

One workforce is not a single product; rather, it is an approach with four building blocks that can be implemented in any order:

  1. Orchestration and Knowledge: This involves transforming interactions into engagements, making sure employees have the right channels and contextual understanding at their fingertips, and enabling coordination with the back office to drive better outcomes.
  2. Quality and Compliance: Organizations need to automatically include quality and ensure the customer perception of quality is encompassed in that commitment. Having a quality program in place without the customer perception of quality is like asking a chef or waiter if a customer's meal was any good. It's important that 100 percent of all interactions are evaluated with AI-driven, real-time coaching to correct deficiencies.
  3. Experience Analytics: This includes looking at different customer behaviors, such as how long they spend on a web site, how hard it was to find what they wanted, and other indicators of their customer journey experience, without needing to explicitly ask them. If the organization can successfully capture that information from every interaction, that data can be used to enhance the customer experience and the efficiency of interactions, reduce costs, and increase revenue.
  4. Hiring, Forecasting and Scheduling: Predictive modeling and automation in the hiring process helps identify the right candidates, not only those who will do the best jobs, but those who are more likely to stay longer, be happy there, and have positive impacts on the organization. This enables a much greater reach across a wider and more diverse pool of candidates than what was previously available.

Applying the strategies of one workforce helps organizations do more with less while still providing a seamless experience customers demand on any channel. An AI-powered platform enables a one-workforce approach by gradually constructing the building blocks for a modern organization that works for customers, employees, and companies.

With more than 25 years' experience in customer engagement and customer experience, David Singer is vice president of product strategy at Verint.