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The end of the call centre as we know it.

Imagine your call centre; completely devoid of people, with row upon row of empty desks populated only by dead terminals and dusty headsets.

This alarming scenario comes by virtue of a recent worldwide survey by Xerox, in which 42% of respondents held the view that by the year 2025 the call centre will no longer exist.

It is based on the growing belief that in call centres, (as with many other businesses), people will eventually be replaced by automated systems; spelling the end for the many thousands of call centres located across the world.

Evolution not revolution.

Before panic sets in, it’s worth pointing out that the report also recognises that some 36% of all call centre volumes result directly from digital channels failing to deliver. Automation may well have its appeal, but it is highly unlikely that it will ever be able to cope with complex issues, so phone enquiries will always have their place.

But what is does highlight is the need for call centres to evolve and change. In order to overcome the challenges of the future, it will require a new generation of call centre staffed by agents who are equipped to deal with the most challenging of customer enquiries.

A new beginning.

This evolution will require a fundamental change in the way call centres coach, motivate and reward staff. At the heart of this movement is the shift from Workforce Optimisation to Workforce Engagement, a trend which is supported by Gartner’s recently published paper.

Gartner recognises that traditional operational management techniques are already failing, and in order to develop elevated agent capabilities there needs to be shift of focus to employee engagement.

One of the key drivers toward evolving staff capable of resolving complex and sensitive queries, is how call centres value and reward their agents.

All work and no play… disengages your agents and makes customers turn away

This is where Gamification comes into play.

Gamification is proven to marshal the required behaviours, through the introduction of user-friendly dashboards, game mechanics, social interaction and material rewards. It provides agents with countless opportunities to display their resourcefulness and initiative and then be acknowledged, both through material rewards and the acclaim of their peers.

Atos has already started to embrace this vision and trialled Gamification in order to drive up efficiency, quality and performance. Its impact was immediate; in just the first three months after implementation Atos saw a reduction in Average Handling Time, a consistent improvement in agent performance and a sharp uplift in overall customer satisfaction of 3%.

The future starts here.

If your call centre is to survive the challenges of tomorrow, then it is imperative that you create a better, more engaging environment, where every agent is recognised as a valued individual and rewarded appropriately.

Most importantly start it today, because by tomorrow it may be too late.