During 2022 the amount of customer service calls steadily increased due to the influx of questions thanks to the pandemic. For many companies, this created challenges to their staffing strategy. Finding the right fit to handle this vital aspect of their business isn’t always cut and dry.
In the wake of the Great Resignation, a single-pronged approach to staffing is no longer the best solution. Staffing challenges, combined with the rising costs related to servicing customers is likely here to stay. It may be time to strike a balance between both live and digital agents, or to rethink your entire staffing model.
Choosing an effective staffing model is more important than simply outsourcing customer service to a third-party vendor. What many companies don’t realize are the surprising benefits of adopting a hybrid staffing model that can deliver a positive ROI. First, let’s examine what a hybrid staffing model is and how it can help your business.
What is a Hybrid Staffing Model
A hybrid model employs both live agents and digital agents for different customer service needs. It’s a complete solution that can be tailored to fit your unique business needs. Live agents can represent a variety of different workers. For instance, your domestic, nearshore and offshore employees could be premise-based or remote (virtual employees) or a combination of all of these.
Digital agents involve communicating with digital means such as natural language processing, digital voice agents digital chat, email or SMS.
How Has the Pandemic Changed this Model?
Since the pandemic, the definition of a “hybrid staffing model” has changed considerably. What once meant a mixture of premise-based employees and remote workers, now means that your approach incorporates a digital component combined with a live agent staffing model.
Today, a hybrid model goes beyond physical location, as both premise-based and remote call center agents are augmented with digital tools that enhance the total customer experience.
What Are the Benefits of a Hybrid Model?
Companies looking for a stronger ROI from their customer experience may want to consider working with a partner to implement a hybrid model to manage seasonal or staffing fluctuations and implement a combination of digital and live agents to handle customer service and sales calls. In addition, there are now reliable that can add increased flexibility and scalability, while still increasing ROI. Adapting a hybrid approach is the way of the future, and can significantly increase ROI on customer service and sales resources, as well as improving the brand experience.
The real return on a hybrid model is a better customer experience for sales and support. Not only does the customer win, but the agent also wins. Live agents are usually happier handling higher touch interactions, rather than tasks that can easily be automated with digital technology. Enlisting digital agents allows live agents to focus on the areas where they can add the most value and have the most impact. This is a key factor in job satisfaction for live agents.
Common Obstacles to a Hybrid Approach
Many companies are resistant to implementing a digital agent strategy. Some worry the learning curve will be too steep. Others have concerns customers won’t interface with a digital resource. Our experience is this: automation for things that lack emotional processing and value-based judgment is more efficient for the customer. However, if a needs to be made by a human, it still should be made by a live agent. This combination will maximize and improve the overall customer experience. We also recommend developing workflow that creates a natural escalation from digital agent to speaking with a live agent, when necessary, or if the customer prefers.
What Metrics Factor Into ROI?
- Staffing Model: Focus on what metrics to measure to determine ROI. What delivers a ROI typically balances costs with customer satisfaction. Also map out the best way to leverage live agents according to a staffing plan that takes into consideration shortages, and time/seasonal variability as these may have changed Post-pandemic. Keep in mind, digital agents operate 24/7 which can create instant ROI, a key benefit of a hybrid approach. (Especially if the call centers aren’t already operating 24/7.)
- Virtual Agent Training & Support: Most companies are dealing with a deluge of new talent because of the Great Resignation. Now is the time to focus on outstanding training and support. During the training period it is crucial to not only answer questions but outline a pathway to employee success. Building in rewards and team success will help to keep retention high and minimize workflow disruptions.
Humans Are Never Going Away
Remember, not everything can be digitized. For those companies who are leery of making the shift to adopting a hybrid approach–don’t worry, humans aren’t going away anytime soon. A live agent cannot be taken out of a great customer service experience. However, digital agents can increase the overall efficiency of your customer service and sales organization.
For over 30 years, it’s been our mission to provide call center services that transform brands, support teams, and grow businesses. We’re here to answer all your questions and tell you about your options so that you can confidently decide if outsourcing is right for you. Ready to learn more? Contact the experts at Humach today!