KARIN KRUGER, Operations Director at Innovation Group South Africa, discusses why the evolving contact centre agent role will be vital in reshaping the industry, along with customer perception of businesses and brands, and future career options.
“Good day and welcome to our convenient automated self-service customer care line. Please listen to the available options and make a selection. Press 1 for billing. Press 2 for administration. Press 3 for…”
5 minutes later and you realise you got side-tracked and stopped listening.
“You have not made a selection, please make a selection so we can better assist you. Press 1 for…”
You growl in frustration. Here we go again! This time, you pay close attention, finally making a selection… only to be redirected to another series of prompts. And all the while, you’re just waiting to hear the only thing that can save you from that frustratingly robotic automated voice.
“…or press 9 to speak to an agent.”
This is the contact centre of today, or at least, this is how most people think of it. In their minds, the contact centre agent is a dying breed, rendered almost entirely redundant by new technologies. But surprisingly, the opposite is true.
The younger generation is so in tune with their tech that they’re practically bionic, and most of the older generation wouldn’t know how to use 90% of the apps on our phones without them. The same can be said for the technology which the contact centre of tomorrow will operate on – we’ll need savvy digital natives who we can rely on to run it. That’s why the introduction of new technology into the industry is actually gradually increasing the need for agents, and reinventing them at the same time.
Gone are the days of the contact centre agent as a disembodied voice on the other side of the phone – an easy target for angry callers to vent their frustration on. Instead, the customer experience orientated contact centres of tomorrow will require agents to fulfil a more exciting multi-facetted role.
They will be well-versed communication specialists on all platforms, whether it be over the phone, email, WhatsApp, Facetime, or social media. They will work with data provided by personal user preference profiles, speech analytics and biometric identifiers to deliver the best possible, personalised experience to callers, while ensuring the security of their confidential information. And finally, they will be master communicators and networkers.
Clearly, digital transformation in the contact centre industry is being built around agents, not over them. So, like the motor in any machine, they will be at the heart of the contact centres of tomorrow, driving memorable customer experiences. Since their attitude toward their job will be a great determining force in garnering brand loyalty and stimulating growth for businesses and brands in the long run, their value as staff in the modern working world is about to skyrocket.
Yes, the contact centre of tomorrow is primed to become one of the most exciting career tracks for the multi-talented and ultra-connected millennial generation in the years to come. And it’s the companies that are ahead of the game, investing in new business processes to take the industry further that will attract the best candidates. This should be every organisations aim if they hope to disrupt and succeed in this digital era.
So, ask yourself, are you ready for the contact centre of tomorrow?
Now download a bank account
Absa has introduced an end-to-end account opening for new customers, through the Absa Banking App, which can be downloaded from the Android and Apple app stores. This follows the launch of the world first ChatBanking on WhatsApp service.
This “download your account” feature enables new customers to Absa, to open a Cheque account, order their card and start transacting on the Absa Banking App, all within minutes, from anywhere and at any time, by downloading it from the App stores.
“Overall, this new capability is not only expected to enhance the customer’s digital experience, but we expect to leverage this in our branches, bringing digital experiences to the branch environment and making it easier for our customers to join and bank with us regardless of where they may be,” says Aupa Monyatsi, Managing Executive for Virtual Channels at Absa Retail & Business Banking.
“With this innovation comes the need to ensure that the security of our customers is at the heart of our digital experience, this is why the digital onboarding experience for this feature includes a high-quality facial matching check with the Department of Home Affairs to verify the customer’s identity, ensuring that we have the most up to date information of our clients. Security is supremely important for us.”
The new version of the Absa Banking App is now available in the Apple and Android App stores, and anyone with a South African ID can become an Absa customer, by following these simple steps:
- Download the Absa App
- Choose the account you would like to open
- Tell us who you are
- To keep you safe, we will verify your cell phone number
- Take a selfie, and we will do facial matching with the Department of Home Affairs to confirm you are who you say you are
- Tell us where you live
- Let us know what you do for a living and your income
- Click Apply.
How we use phones to avoid human contact
A recent study by Kaspersky Lab has found that 75% of people pick up their connected device to avoid conversing with another human being.
Connected devices are becoming essential to keeping people in contact with each other, but for many they are also a much-needed comfort blanket in a variety of social situations when they do not want to interact with others. A recent survey from Kaspersky Lab has confirmed this trend in behaviour after three-quarters of people (75%) admitted they use a device to pretend to be busy when they don’t want to talk to someone else, showing the importance of keeping connected devices protected under all circumstances.
Imagine you’ve arrived at a bar and you’re waiting for your date. The bar is busy, and people are chatting all around you. What do you do now? Strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know? Grab your phone from your pocket or handbag until your date arrives to keep yourself busy? Why talk to humans or even make eye-contact with someone else when you can stare at your connected device instead?
The truth is, our use of devices is making it much easier to avoid small talk or even be polite to those around us, and new Kaspersky Lab research has found that 72% of people use one when they do not know what to do in a social situation. They are also the ‘go-to’ distraction for people even when they aren’t trying to look busy or avoid someone’s eye. 46% of people admit to using a device just to kill time every day and 44% use it as a daily distraction.
In addition to just being a distraction, devices are also a lifeline to those who would rather not talk directly to another person in day-to-day situations, to complete essential tasks. In fact, nearly a third (31%) of people would prefer to carry out tasks such as ordering a taxi or finding directions to where they need to go via a website and an app, because they find it an easier experience than speaking with another person.
Whether they are helping us avoid direct contact or filling a void in our daily lives, our constant reliance on devices has become a cause for panic when they become unusable. A third (34%) of people worry that they will not be able to entertain themselves if they cannot access a connected device. 12% are even concerned that they won’t be able to pretend to be busy if their device is out of action.
Dmitry Aleshin, VP for Product Marketing, Kaspersky Lab said, “The reliance on connected devices is impacting us in more ways than we could have ever expected. There is no doubt that being connected gives us the freedom to make modern life easier, but devices are also vital to help people get through different and difficult social situations. No matter what your ‘connection crutch’ is, it is essential to make sure your device is online and available when you need it most.”
To ensure your device lifeline is always there and in top health – no matter what the reason or situation – Kaspersky Security Cloud keeps your connection safe and secure:
· I want to use my device while waiting for a friend – is it secure to access the bar’s Wi-Fi?
With Kaspersky Security Cloud, devices are protected against network threats, even if the user needs to use insecure public Wi-Fi hotspots. This is done through transferring data via an encrypted channel to ensure personal data safety, so users’ devices are protected on any connection.
· Oh no! I’m bored but my phone’s battery is getting low – what am I going to do?
Users can track their battery level thanks to a countdown of how many minutes are left until their device shuts down in the Kaspersky Security Cloud interface. There is also a wide-range of portable power supplies available to keep device batteries charged while on-the-go.
· I’ve lost my phone! How will I keep myself entertained now?
Should the unthinkable happen and you lose or have your phone stolen, Kaspersky Security Cloud can track and protect your device from data breaches, for complete peace of mind. Remote lock and locate features ensure your device remains secure until you are reunited.