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July 6, 2021

On-Demand Webinar: The Remote Tipping Point — Is Work from Home Here to Stay?

Remote work has become a core aspect of contact center operations but the latest research indicates that there are disparities between how contact center managers perceive work from home and how it has actually impacted operational performance.

Watch this on-demand webinar to hear industry experts discuss:

  • How CX is being negatively impacted by a handful of operational challenges within the contact center
  • Why firms that invest in improving the agent experience will win the CX battle
  • The roadmap to achieving a frictionless and unified customer journey
  • Ways to ensure strong ROI on contact center technology investments.

Watch the Webinar

Transcript

Lindsay Shelby: [00:00:00] Alright. Hello. Again, this is Lindsay with LiveVox. Thank you guys for joining today’s webinar “The Remote Tipping Point: Is Work from Home Here to Stay?”. Before we begin, I just want to go over a few quick housekeeping items. This session is being recorded and will be distributed out to you all after the event. Also, there is a panel for questions to the right of your screen.

So feel free to enter any questions you have throughout the presentation and we’ll get to them or be sure to circle back with you after the webinar. So with that Jim Lynch, I think I will go ahead and kick it over to you to get us started.

Jim Lynch: [00:00:37] Awesome. Thanks so much, Lindsay, welcome everybody to today’s webinar “The Remote Tipping Point: Is Work from Home Here to Stay?”. I think this is an interesting topic. You know, we did this survey report about a year ago, and then we redid it again in 2021. Just to see, you know, kind of the state of the market. Where is everybody today? Are they continuing to work at home?

Are they starting to find themselves coming back to the office? What some of the key challenges were. Today I’m excited to be joined by or with Amanda Butkewich, our Content Marketing Manager. She really spearheaded this report. So just take a second, say hello to everyone, Amanda.

Amanda Butkewich: [00:01:16] Yeah. Hi, everybody. Happy to be here. Glad to be going through the report with you today.

Jim Lynch: [00:01:22] Awesome. Thank you. And just a little bit about LiveVox before we get started. So LiveVox as most of you know, is a powerful next-generation contact center platform that seamlessly integrates omnichannel communications, CRM, AI, and WFO capabilities to deliver exceptional agent and customer experiences while helping to mitigate risk.

So obviously we were born and bred in financial services. We do a little over 14 billion multi-channel interactions a year, obviously over 10 years developing the tools, and then for risk mitigation, as it relates to TCPA, we have a positive court ruling record of 10 – 0. Great. Thank you. And you know, so Amanda, let’s dive right into it.

So, about a year ago, you know, where were we, if you think about that? So you did a report a year ago. You did a big study. So talk to me a little bit about where we were a year ago, Just to level set with everyone on the webinar today.

Amanda Butkewich: [00:02:19] Yeah. So I know that it seems like a lot more than a year ago because we’ve all experienced so much in the past, you know, 12 to 18 months, but we were really in March of 2020 when we started this survey as a contact center industry and, you know, as a society undergoing some very serious tectonic shifts.

And so what that meant for work in the contact center, we had to do a rapid about face. We had to figure out how we were going to maintain the same levels of service in a completely remote environment where most contact centers, you know, were used to working on-site face-to-face   with these legacy systems and they had to figure out in this really quick turnaround, how to move everything from home.

So there were a lot of variables, and there were a lot of challenges, frankly, and I think we could boil them down to these three main questions that we felt in the survey you know, most people, most people were faced with, most people were asking themselves.

So, so how do we drive more self-service because we knew we were going to be faced with this increase in inbound vol e, especially for those of us in financial services, because we were, you know, many of us were undergoing economic strain with unemployment and, you know, just kind of the havoc that the pandemic wreaked on the economy.

So we were also at the same time trying to figure out how do we maintain the same levels of agent and customer experience? You know, like we did, we wanted to make sure that we were still showing up for our customers, we were still showing up for our agents.   and then of course, I think the biggest one in the, and the biggest carryover that we found for 2021 was how do we manage all of this in a distributed setting, particularly how do we manage performance?

 So looking back at, at the, the biggest takeaway is you know, obviously, 80% because of the impact to an increase in call volume, 80% of contact center leaders knew that they were going to have to adopt and rely more heavily on digital channels because the asynchronous communication takes you from a one-to-one to a one to many.

And 25%, only 25% of our cohort, I’m sorry were prepared with a business continuity plan that actually encompassed the entire workforce. So many people, the majority of people really had absolutely no idea how to handle what they were faced with. They had some kind of disaster relief, preparedness plan in place for, you know, the event of an earthquake or a hurricane or something that would shut the office down for maybe a week or two, but nothing for working from home for months on end.

 So what was interesting. Last year, despite all of that you know, people were able to kind of shift into gear pretty quickly.   and when we last left in April of 2020, 62% of enterprise contact center leaders said that they would consider keeping at least a portion of their workforce remote.

Jim Lynch: [00:05:30] Yeah, I think it, I think it’s really interesting when you think about that is that, you know, I can tell you based on some operational experience that before that it never was any, anywhere in my mind that we would send everyone to work at home. So, you know, this is a quick poll for everyone. What percentage of your agent workforce was remote last year?

So anywhere from 0 to 25, 26 to 50, you know, 51 to 75 or 76 to a hundred, we’ll give you a few seconds to answer that question.

[00:06:00] And as people are answering Amanda, like we said, it’s really going to be interesting as we get into this report to find out who is thinking about   you know, leaving some of their agents working at home. So interesting. Yeah, 76 to 100 showed 67%, 0 to 25 – 33%. So it’s pretty simple here.

Either everyone chose to allow everyone to work at home or they were like, no, one’s working at home. So that’s pretty interesting, and obviously, you know, most of the governments and, and localities forced businesses to close and send agents home. So pretty interesting that we still had 33% there.

Great. All right. Moving along. When we think about this, Amanda, like the DNA of work has changed. So if we can go to the next slide, Lindsay.

And Lindsay, we’re still seeing the quick poll.

Lindsay Shelby: [00:07:04] I’m coming. One second.

Jim Lynch: [00:07:10] Perfect. Here we go. All right. So the DNA of work has changed, Amanda. So obviously there’s a few stats in here and a few different studies. So if you could take a few moments and show the high points that we see here.

Amanda Butkewich: [00:07:23] Yeah, of course. So, you know, obviously as we’re doing research, we want to position ourselves into, you know, the larger framework and the larger conversation that’s being had about this shift to work from home.

And so obviously contact centers, they’re not the customer service, they’re not the only industry that was faced with this abrupt change. I think in fact, most knowledge workers with the exception of, you know, maybe the essential workers in healthcare obviously switched to being remote. So, a Harris poll here on the screen Harris poll is a market research and analytics company.

They surveyed about 10,000 workers in May of this year. And they found that 40% of Americans actually prefer to work from home where 35% say that they’re partial to a hybrid model, so split the week in the office and then at home. And then 25% are like, no, I want to go back to the office.

And then on the right here, we have the Becker Friedman Institute for economics, which is the market research arm of the University of Chicago. They also did a study that came out recently that found that 30% of workers say that they’re more engaged while working remotely. I think what’s really staggering is that in a six-month period, the study looked at, from March to October, they found that 9 billion hours of commute time were actually saved by working from home.

So, you can just imagine the productivity gains there. I think that that’s, I mean, 9 billion hours like to quantify that is, is pretty insane, right? Pretty impactful. What you can do with that [00:09:00] time when you’re not driving to work, you know, two hours a day, to and from.

Jim Lynch: [00:09:05] Yeah. So I look at this, I look at this through the same lens, but I also question when I look at that and I see, oh, only 30% say they were more productive and engaged while working remotely.

That means theat70% say that they are more productive and engaged while working in the office. You know, Amanda, so I think that’s, that’s actually a surprising study to me because obviously, you know, 40% of people say they prefer to work at home, 30% say that they’re more productive. So it’s an interesting stat.

So I think that’s why it’s important, why we launched our second edition of the LiveVox Work from Home Report. So, in April of this year, you can go to the next slide. In April this year, LiveVox surveyed contact center leaders across five different industries to uncover the latest trends and successes after a year of working remotely.

And why did we do it? We did it essentially to uncover the results and share data so you understand what your peers are doing and how you can keep up. So as we through Amanda, if you could talk through the survey methodology a little bit, talk about who was involved in the survey and then, you know what their contact centers look like.

Amanda Butkewich: [00:10:10] Yeah. Sure. So again, we just, like we did last year in 2020, we spoke to a little over 300 enterprise contact center leaders because we really wanted to know, you know, what was keeping them up at night after a year of this complete, you know, working in this completely new terrain.

So everybody was a decision maker or directly impacted customer service decisions in their contact center, and almost everyone in our survey cohort had over a hundred agents in their contact center. So we’re talking about larger customer service operations. When we talk about this small segment that we surveyed.

Jim Lynch: [00:10:54] Great. Thanks. And it’s probably fair to say that some of those agencies or some of the creditors, customer care departments, that we saw that chose not to go home, I would bet that most of those are not falling into over 100 agents category. So, you know, probably like some of the smaller mom and pop size shops that decided to keep their doors open, had a few people coming in and had the ability to space them out, right, with social distancing as allowed. Great. Thanks, Amanda.

And now let’s go into some of the key findings, so it’s important to understand who it was, but now let’s go over some of the key findings that we found in that report.

Amanda Butkewich: [00:11:30] Yeah. So on the whole, we found that most everyone experienced increases in call volume, right? Like that’s the biggest headline I think from, from both reports 2020 and 2021.

And that’s not surprising; only about a quarter experienced what they’d classify as dramatic increases. So we defined that as a 50% or higher uptick in calls from the previous year, at the same time. And then on the other hand, about half of the cohort said that the biggest boon to remote work was the flexibility that they were able to provide their agents.

So agent satisfaction is kind of ringing true as a really big, a really big driver and something that, you know, firms and agencies are looking at as kind of an agent retention tool almost. And so also almost half of our cohort experienced no negative impact to staffing due to attrition or you know, layoffs or something, something of that kind, which was surprising to me.

Well, 30%, you know, did incur some hit to agent resources as a result of those things, either, you know, whether a mix of agent attrition or layoffs or hiring freezes. On the whole, most people feared, you know, pretty favorable.

Jim Lynch: [00:12:47] Yeah. So this is interesting, Amanda, we see that, you know, like the one that really sticks out to me and what everyone’s wondering is what are other contact centers doing?

So what are your thoughts around the sharp decline from 6 out of 10 that says, hey, we’re going to plan on keeping people remote. Why do you think they changed it to 3 out of 10 now?

Amanda Butkewich: [00:13:06] Yeah. So that actually, I think that that’s really surprising. I was expecting, you know, that it would be the reverse.

So when we, when we asked people last year, do you, you know, after they went through, you know, all the things that we described, trying to figure out the infrastructure, moving people, you know, to a work from home setup within 48 hours, you’d think that at that point they would be like, no, we don’t. We can’t continue this, this is not working.

In fact, they were more gung ho about it back then. This year, 50%, so half, so last year it was 62%, so 6 in 10. This year 3 in 10 said that they’d be willing to. And I think truthfully it’s because the obstacles have changed and the problems have matured a little bit more.

So initially when we were last year moving to a remote setup, it was kind of all about laying the foundation. Once people overcame that hurdle now it’s become more of a sophisticated operational thing where people have to consider changing their KPIs and kind of figuring out how to maintain morale and manage this distributed workforce.

And I almost feel like, you know, perhaps the right investments weren’t made in the appropriate tools. And I think that that’s born out in some of the later data that will show in upcoming slides.

Jim Lynch: [00:14:28] Awesome. No, I mean, these are, these are all interesting stats and I could look at it many different ways. So obviously that comes into the biggest themes and challenges that we see from the report.

So we’re going to cover these in detail. I just want to cover them at a high level bullet point now. Now, then we’re going to dive into each one of these bullets, specifically. So the first one we had – agent satisfaction correlates to increased customer engagement. Obviously, no surprise here. If agents are happy on the phone, you’re going to have happy customers.

If you have irritated agents, the likelihood of them responding in a positive way to a customer that’s obviously irritated when they call in or reach the contact center is obviously lower. So let’s think about the use of remote coaching and monitoring tools. This is super important for people. So obviously a greater likelihood of work from home success and continuation.

You have to have the ability to coach remotely and monitor what the agents are doing. Obviously, we talked earlier and we said, hey, there’s been a decline in productivity. So that could be because of a lack of monitoring tools or lack of remote coaching, or maybe they just haven’t figured it out yet.

We’ll find out more in a few minutes. And then third, the use of e-learning correlates with a reduction in agent monitoring issues. So that’s going to be an interesting topic we’ll dive into as well. So let’s cover the first one. So we’re talking about agent monitoring here, the first challenge. So let’s talk about these statistics a little bit from what has been your biggest challenge so far in 2021.

So, if you want to take a second here, let’s see what the crowd thinks compared to the survey. So, obviously select all that apply. If managing agent productivity has been a challenge, handling high inbound call vol e, lack of automation or AI or RPA, increased outbound dialing with limited agent resources could be interesting as well, or ensuring script adherence and compliance in a remote setting.

So no longer are you able to just walk around the contact center floor here, where people are saying, you know, maybe tap them on the shoulder, give them a little on the spot coaching. A few more seconds for this poll to close.

Interesting. So managing agent productivity, you know, this, this lines up with, with that earlier stat, Amanda, you know, we saw, you know, only 30% of people said that, you know, productivity has picked up. I think this lines up really well. 63% are saying agent productivity is a challenge. Handling high inbound call volumes is a little bit.

Amanda Butkewich: [00:17:05] Yeah. And it actually looks like the audience poll lines up r, it’s pretty on par with what we found in the survey. So the, the biggest, and the main challenge was the agent monitoring followed by the high call vol es, which we also just saw in the audience poll.   and you know, the strain on, on service levels   followed by the lack of automation and then like a lack of agent resources.

So it does seem to add up pretty neatly with the survey.

Jim Lynch: [00:17:36] So Amanda, let’s talk about that, managing remote agent productivity. What do you find people doing to actually handle that? How are they improving it? So it looks like a lot of people are challenged and their answer is, as weird as it sounds, the answer is let’s just bring them back into the office, but still going to cause challenges.

Do you have any ideas on, you know, tools that people use to help manage, you know, agent productivity, whether it’s remote or in the office?

Amanda Butkewich: [00:18:00] Yeah. Sure. So, especially while remote, I think that there was definitely a heavy reliance on more standup calls and kind of like weekly check-ins or weekly one-on-ones because, you know, like we said earlier in the context center you’re used to working face to face.

So people, people moved that into the digital setting. And so whether that be, you know, doing regular video conferencing, we definitely saw in our open-ended responses that people were really happy to continue that, and that almost fostered a little bit more of a comradery among teams. People enjoy doing that.

And there was a little bit of team bonding that was going on there.   and so I think that that helped when it, that helped when it came to the monitoring and coaching a little bit, and also, you know, helping people to kind of develop and grow and learn and feel more comfortable in this, this new setting.

Another thing that I think people have been doing is relying heavily on internal chat. So when we, when we pose the question in the survey this year, you know, did you add any new channels, any new communication channels?   lots of people actually, I think it was maybe 11% or 17% said that they added internal agent to agent chat so that people could almost kind of create like buddy systems and ping one another when they had a question because there isn’t that over the shoulder oversight that, you know, folks are accustomed to when you’re working on the contact center floor.

I’ve also seen, you know, anecdotally in the open-ended responses that we had, lots of people were almost pulling back the curtain a little bit more.

And when I say lots of people, I mean you know manager level pulling back the curtain a little bit more and sharing, you know, KPI data or, or reporting when they had the capability to, because again, you’re trying to figure out how to translate this in-person, in office setting, to a remote environment. And then in a contact center, you’re on the floor, you’re used to having wallboards or some sort of visualization of your, your traffic vol e and you know, the goings on.

So I think that that really helped folks with the monitoring and the training and the coaching. Those are just some tactics.

Jim Lynch: [00:20:06] Nope. I agree with everything you’re saying. I mean, because really when you think about the contact center leaders that we all put on the floor, they’re people, people people, they just, they love coaching. They love developing. They love walking the floor.

They like having conversations with their agents. It really does change dramatically when you don’t have that person-to-person contact, it changes the way that they do business. Right. So it’s really important that you have that visualization where, you know, instead of them being able to stand up, listen to what the buzz is going on the floor, listen to what certain agents are saying, now they’re having to switch that up.

They’re having to sit at their desk, you know, especially if they’re working from home, they’re sitting at their desks or watching screens. They’re looking for, you know, not ready time. They’re trying to ping the agents through that, you know, agents and supervisor chat that you just spoke about.

They’re really just listening to individual calls all day long, which really changes it. Some supervisors found that it was really easy to make that transition and some didn’t. So it was really interesting to watch that happen. And I think, you know, layer on top of that, handling the high inbound call vol es.

We’re going to dive into that just a little bit. Actually, let’s move to the next slide and talk about the increased call vol e. So obviously 56% reported up to a 25% increase in call volume. So that’s tough to handle, especially in a time where you can’t onboard agents quickly enough. And you know, these conversations are becoming more and more difficult.

So Amanda let’s cover these stats on increased call vol e. What do we see here?

Amanda Butkewich: [00:21:37] Yeah, absolutely. So I think simply put, we can say that the increased call vol e is due to a lack of asynchronous communication availability.   and I think, wever was there, you know, more, never was it more apparent that you need greater channel diversity right now.

You know, we’ve been talking for years about omni-channel but particularly, you know, the, the events that we, we have just gone through over the last 18 months, people calling in with really urgent matters, like they need to refinance a loan, they’re seeking forbearance, they’re delinquent.

Like these are pressing urgent things that people, they’re anxious about. They can’t afford to sit and wait in these, you know, long hold queues. They want answers right now and they want their issues handled right away.   and so what we found last year was that. And if we showed a few slides previous to this like 80% of leaders they knew they needed to, to rely more heavily on digital channels and the channel that they chose, probably because it was the one they already had available to them, was email.

But email again, it’s asynchronous for sure. But there’s a time lag. There’s a delay. It’s, you know, it’s limited to a service queue, to when the ticket comes in.   so, you need that urgency and when you don’t provide that to people, they’re going to hop right back on the phone and they’re going to make your wait time, you know, 60, 80 minutes long.

S I think that that’s, that’s really the crux of it is that there, there was a lack of channel diversity and specifically, you know, missing the automation and the asynchronous channel communication provided through, you know, AI virtual agent chat, or, you know, some sort of web chat, something like that.

And we did see some folks adopt that. I think maybe a quarter of people said that   you know, over the past year they did adopt things like web chat.   but it definitely wasn’t a lot, I mean, not to combat these kinds of numbers that we’re seeing. I mean, 56% report a 25% increase in call volume.

   you’d think you’d kind of scramble to ameliorate that in some way with something beside email.   So here we are. Yeah.

Jim Lynch: [00:23:53] No. Perfect. I think that that’s a great talking point, Amanda, and actually it leads us right into our next slide, which is truly the lack of channel diversity. So a lot of people were trying to self-serve, but really what we found is that a lot of companies just weren’t ready for that.

So even though we’ve been speaking about omnichannel for a long time, we’ve been talking about, you know, making sure that the database and the CRM is speaking, you know, it’s all the different channels and brings it into one single pane of glass for the agents. There’s a lot of companies out there that, you know, didn’t really adopt that soon enough.

And those people that did adopt it found a lot more success than those that didn’t. So I think Amanda, you know, to your point, that people were starting to add in other channels. And you know, as we look through this, you know, you talk obviously 37% said they didn’t adopt any new channels. I’ll argue and I’ll say that well, out of those 37%, that didn’t adopt any new channels, it’s because they already had them.

If they didn’t have them, they had to find another way because there was no way they were able to handle that increase call volume in a way that was satisfactory to their customers. So, Amanda, let’s talk through a couple of the other channels that people did adopt over this time period.

Amanda Butkewich: [00:25:04] Yeah, sure. So we’ve talked, we’ve touched on a few of them previously.

Webchat was the, I think, you know, primary, primary channel that people added to their suites. And then of course the agent-to-agent chat. But that’s not really obviously customer facing, but it goes to the point of supporting, you know, work from home setup SMS, some, you know, some people are interested, chatbots a little bit.

And, you know, these aren’t channels, but this is, these are just kind of the capabilities that   we sort of deemed suited to, to kind of help build success in a remote environment. Knowledge bases, ticketing, you know, not, not too many folks looking to add those. And to your point, Jim, you know, maybe we should do a little bit more research.

Maybe next time we phrase the question a little differently to do some digging, to find out, you know, is it because these are things that you already have? Definitely webchat seemed this year to be the new kid on the block where last year it was email. So, so interesting stuff, but I’d like to take us in a little bit of a different direction because you mentioned self-service.

And I’d like to take my context center leader analyst hat off and put, you know, maybe my customer research analyst hat on, and think about how for those companies, maybe that 37% that did already have these channels. What kind of behaviors were they encouraging in their customers? I think that that’s really interesting, like for maybe those, maybe those customers that maybe have a little bit of a generational difference and they’re used to doing things over the phone, but the matter was so pressing, they had to figure out how to do it online.

There was this kind of forced self-reliance and forced self-service that I think is really interesting, and was actually really beneficial for those contact centers that were well equipped. You know, with these digital capabilities to get people to use them more.

Jim Lynch: [00:27:05] Yeah, I agree. And I look at this and I see like web chat and I’m just looking at this as it goes down the list, honestly. And really when I think about it, it’s the lowest barrier to entry; a web chat application to get that up and going on your site takes minutes, you know, I’m probably exaggerating a little bit, but, but it really is quick to do, easy to do.

You can throw agents on there, you know, that they’re going to be able to handle two to three to five interactions at one time, Amanda. So it’s super simple. So, and then we go down and so when we look at the bottom down here, we see conversational IVR and speech to text analytics, you know, AI assistant.

So the interesting thing to me is that even though people have started to deploy these well, this has only been the past year. So think about it. Like some people may have done the past six to nine months. So now what they’re trying to do is they’re trying to go in and optimize those interactions, just like they were with phones many, many years ago.

They came up with an IVR tree to make sure that the right customers get in touch with the right agents, that’s able to answer their questions. So now when we think about how AI is starting to move up the chain, and now it’s starting to become really simple or maybe simple is not the right word, but it’s becoming a lot easier to deploy AI, a chat bot, a virtual agent, you know, across all of these channels.

What I expect to happen over the next six to nine months, you know, I wouldn’t quite push it a year. If I was in a shopping mode right now, I would say definitely you should be shopping for this now to figure out how to optimize all these individual channels, because it’s so important to understand what’s happening.

What type of communications are happening? Are you handling them correctly or did you just literally bolt on a system for web chat?   before we leave this slide, the last part that’s interesting to me, is that we just showed that, what was it? 60% of this audience said that agent productivity was one of the most difficult things.

I’ll tell you one way that you could find that out real quick, where your bottlenecks are, is speech and text analytics. Like really start thinking about that and really start thinking about those, those reporting tools available to you. We’re talking about how you could go in and have automated scorecards that would help with your agents, you know, and agents are doing, I always, always remember this term that someone was saying, hey, agents are going to do what you inspect, not what you expect.

So obviously if you’re utilizing speech and text analytics, with AI layered on top of it, you’re going to be able to inspect a lot more closely to a hundred percent of those calls or interactions that you have. So something to think about if you’re struggling still with remote agent performance, and you’re one of those people that didn’t answer that you kind of layered on this technology or looked at using a little bit different that’s something you should be thinking about because it looks like 94% of those didn’t do that to change it.

All right. Great. Well, let’s move on to the next bullet; insufficient WSO and quality management capabilities. I guess this speaks to a little bit about what I was just saying. So after shifting remote work we asked how many of them added any of the following to understand training and coaching needs.

So Amanda, let’s cover some of these.

Amanda Butkewich: [00:30:11]   yeah, absolutely. So again, there was a pretty large cohort, 32% that didn’t add any of the, you know, performance tracking or analytics that you were just speaking about. Kind of an equally large set. We didn’t drill into what kinds of KPI data or performance analytics they added.

We just wanted to know whether or not that was something that they knew they had to shift as they moved to, to remote. And then did they make any adjustments to their kind of training requirements? Any kind of screen recording was added?

Like you were just talking about Jim you’d think that in a remote setting, to have that oversight to kind of fill in those gaps where you’re used to having that over the shoulder, visibility, that the call and screen recording would be critical.   and only 22% added it over the last year.   so I think that this, again speaks to what is on the minds of those 7 out of 10 that don’t want to continue working remotely.

And it really just underscores kind of a lack of making the right investments. And so, back to your point, Jim, you need to be equipped with screen recording and speech analytics. You need to be doing the regular call calibration sessions. You need to be rejiggering your QA so that you can have the agility that is required in a remote setting.

Jim Lynch: [00:31:45] Yeah, that’s great, Amanda, so I’m actually curious to find out what this audience has. So, you know, same, another quick poll. Have you adopted any of the following workforce optimization or quality management capabilities since shifting to a remote work environment? So and thinking about this a little bit different, not just have you added it or maybe have looked at it a little bit different?

So obviously select all apply. If you’ve looked at performance analytics and KPI data, think about your dashboard, think about your reporting tools that you put out to your supervisors, managers, agents. Have you increased call-ins and, or screen monitoring, you know, are you watching what the agents are doing?

You’re watching to see if they’re getting to the right screen, especially when we think about onboarding new agents. That’s been a challenge for a lot of people. How do I onboard and train agents in the way that I was able to do before live interaction, monitoring, call interactions, scoring, or speech and text analytics.

Give a few more seconds for this poll to close.

Great. So it looks like we’ve had a lot of people add on technology   you know, this time. So we look at performance analytics and KPI data that went up from 31% to 67% with this audience. Call and or screen monitoring, you know, 22 up to 50. Live interaction monitoring, Amanda, this was one of the most important things we talked about, right?

Like agents or supervisors before were able to go up to the agents, you know, talk to them, listen to what they’re saying and, and live interaction monitoring wasn’t always used as much as it should have been. Yeah.   and speech and text analytics, I still feel a lot of opportunity there, only 50%, you know, just think about that.

All the live interaction, you’re only really getting to a small percentage every time you’re doing it. So it’s really interesting. If you start to layer on speech and text analytics, again, a hundred percent of your interactions get to be graded on versus only a few. So that was still a great improvement, Amanda, wouldn’t you agree? You know, looking at some of the adoption of technology in this area.

Amanda Butkewich: [00:33:45] Yeah, absolutely, drastic.   and I wonder if we will continue to do this report next year. I think it would be interesting to drill into some of the demographics and maybe have some graphs by industry to see if maybe there’s some variation based on those factors.

Jim Lynch: [00:34:08] Yeah. And I, I see some other reports in our future, or maybe even studies, Amanda, some, some tip sheets and some guides on how people have done it successfully and where some of the misses were. So what did they like about it? What they’re not like about it, what’s working well, what’s not working well, so I could see that coming up with everyone.

Great. So agent experience is a key strategic priority, obviously. How are agents feeling? It was a struggle. Look, when you go from working in a team environment, there’s a lot of comradery going on inside of a contact center. You’re getting motivated by others that are sitting next to you. So talk to me a little bit Amanda, about agent experience, how people have been prioritizing that?

Amanda Butkewich: [00:34:45]   yeah. Sure. So we have, we’ve mentioned this, the, you know, the seven out of 10 that want to go back to the office, but half of the entire cohort, recognize that work from home is a huge boost to agent morale, to agent satisfaction.

And in fact, they’re also recognizing that it can be a great agent retention tool. It can be a great reward system. Especially now that the world is reopening and we’re returning to you know, some kind of notion of normal you know, those agents that were high performers throughout, they can be rewarded with continuing to work from home.

I think it’s also, people are recognizing that it is a great way to attract new, new you know, potential hires, new prospects. And I think, you know, from a cost perspective and from a talent pool perspective, businesses are recognizing that the ocean is at their front door basically, when you are not confined to a certain geographic region you can hire talent.

You can, you can source talent from anywhere in the country or anywhere in the world, you know, depending on what your needs are and, and those kinds of things. So I do think that agent experience is a big driver. I think that there were some slight differences based on the size of the contact center.

I think some of the smaller organizations put a little bit of a higher premium on it than maybe those contact centers that have over 500 agents. But again, I think that that’s an insight that is kind of intuitive, right? Like you can, you could sort of chalk that up to like the, the, you know, small fish, big fish sort of mentality.

So,yeah, I don’t know. What, what do you think about it, Jim?

Jim Lynch: [00:36:41] No, when I look at these stats, I mean, I think it’s pretty interesting that, you know, a lot of people said that agent attrition wasn’t impacted in their contact center. So. I could see it go one way or another. Like those people that did it really well, that did focus on agent experience, that did deploy the tools out there, I actually think that their attrition probably improved.

So I think that an interesting vector for us to look at is really to understand those that did a good job rolling out the tools and some that didn’t. And really when I look at these stats, I see it is also equal, you know, if I look at the bottom down there, so it’s really interesting to me that people about the same percentage of people are responding and saying, look, it increased by 10% or dropped by 10%.

And then you see a 25% swing and then you see a 50% swing. So again, I will say that those people that saw drops anywhere; alright a drop by 10%, look, I’m not going to not going to punish anyone for a drop by 10%, but those saw a drop of 25 or sorry, an increase of 25 or increase of 50, that saw abandon rates start to skyrocket, those are the people that really did have the agent productivity issue.

So they weren’t able to monitor the agents and make sure that they’re available when they should be available. You know, maybe they were finding the agents going in and not ready or break or some type of other time where they weren’t available to take the calls the way that they thought they would be, or maybe they got distracted with something going on at home.

But again, those people that are showing that, abandon rates were actually dropping. I bet Amanda, those were the people that deployed tools, you know, utilizing AI, utilizing speech analytics, utilizing some advanced dashboards to really keep an eye on what’s going on with those contact center agents, as they’re deployed to a remote environment.

I would also bet that those people that show those increases, the increase by 50%, increase by 25%, are the people that are saying, hey, I need to get my agents back into the office as quickly as I can. And now I think the challenge is going to be this. I think you hit it head on the head earlier. You said, hey look, Jim, like we’re able to go out and we’re able to, you know, recruit from across the country.

We’re able to increase our workforce and those that did it really well, look, the agents that really love working at home, what do we show? 30% or so, something like that, Amanda, they really love working at home, see it as a benefit. They’re saving 9 billion hours of commute time. I know for me, I love working remotely because I don’t want to drive the hour to and from the office every single day.

It does add a lot to the work-life balance. And I think that people think it’s important. So, let’s talk about that a little bit. The agent flexibility, greater productivity for some, some don’t. So talk to me a little bit. Yeah,

Amanda Butkewich: [00:39:22] absolutely. And I think that that’s a really fair supposition that you make, Jim, that those people that saw the abandonment rates go down were the ones that were properly, you know, were the ones that were properly tooling and monitoring and training their agents.

And we see that actually born out in this graph on the right here. So I think we’re getting the point across now that you know, innovation and investment in coaching and monitoring is really critical to remote work.

And so if you take a look at this graph on the right of the 31% that say that they added more KPI tracking and performance capabilities, we really wanted to understand whether these kinds of additions correlated to a preference for hybrid models or continuing to work remotely.

And we actually found that those who selected that they had added the KPI data tracking and performance analytics to their spectrum of tools, they were actually 50% more likely to say that they’re going to stay remote well. While 47% who didn’t select that they added those KPI and performance analytics capabilities, they were only 39% more likely to say that they’d continue to work remotely. So you’re absolutely spot on in saying that there’s, there is, a correlation between the two.

Jim Lynch: [00:40:35] Yeah. So it’s going to be interesting. Those of you that are doing a really good job and have figured this out, you could see the staffing flexibility and access to a wider talent pool. They might be thinking about it a little bit differently than you, right? So if you’re not thinking about it that way, I suggest that you do.

It really is look, some people that are, especially now that school is going to be back in session here in the next couple of months, a lot of the, the kids that were maybe remote last year, probably going back to school this year, but some parents are going to want that flexibility, you know, and that’s a great workforce to hit up.

I think, you know, obviously you’re looking at it as an agent’s ability to have a flexible schedule is great for agent experience. You might even be thinking about a hybrid model, right? So are people going to have to be in the office five days a week? Are you going to allow them to work remotely maybe one or two days out of the week?

I’ve definitely talked to contact center leaders that said, look, Jim, this is a benefit, it’s almost a reward. It’s not a necessity anymore. It’s not that you’re guaranteed to work from home. You’re going to earn the ability to work from home. And some people like it will do it. Some people work really hard to keep that benefit.

And then others will find themselves back in the office. Not that’s a negative thing. You know, it’s a way that you’re able to actually control what’s going on. So the next slide we have up is about e-learning. So, I mean, this is really interesting to me. So this is, you know, what kind of training and coaching tactics did you provide remote agents in the past year?

And a matter of fact, Amanda, before we get into these [00:42:00] stats, let’s pop up our next polling question to find out how the audience has done. So what kind of training, coaching tactics did you utilize for remote agents in the past year? Obviously select all that apply. Did you launch some type of e-learning or already have that?

Did you hit up a knowledge base? Did you deploy internal chat or maybe use that in an increased manner. Agent scripting, that’s an important one, especially for your new agents. Did you deploy some type of agent scripting that was able to help the agents through the calls that they were getting popped onto their screen? And then call recording calibration.

So let’s give a few seconds for this to close. And then Amanda, why don’t you take a look at the results as soon as they pop up and give me your thoughts on what you see here.

All right. So, Amanda, what do you think?

Amanda Butkewich: [00:42:52] Yeah. So it tracks pretty closely with what we found in the survey. So 57% in the survey for e-learning, 60% in the poll.   knowledge base articles at 40% here 36% in the survey.   internal chat, 39%, 0%.. So actually that’s the only one that doesn’t, doesn’t really, doesn’t really track.

Also agent scripting, so 23% of our survey cohort said that. Agent scripting was one of their tools in their kind of e-learning toolkit. So I think for the most part, it tracks. Again, I think that this is an area where more research could, you know, provide a little bit of a clearer answer.

Like, what do we mean when we say e-learning? Are we talking about Jim? Like, you know, a learning management system or, you know, some sort of onboarding coursework that agents do or is it a buddy system where they’re sort of shadowing a more seasoned agent? Like what does the learning and the e-learning kind of, how has that constituted from contact center to contact center.

But on the whole, I think the big takeaway here is that people really do understand that e-learning in whatever capacity is absolutely vital to you know, creating a more self-sufficient workforce and more self-reliant workforce.

 Some of the interesting kind of anecdotes that we received in the open-ended portion of the survey where people were you know, as little side projects to build out their knowledge bases, they were actually assigning agents in free time, you know, and those off chance that they didn’t have that increase in call volume, they were assigning them to write knowledge-based articles.

So they were killing two birds with one stone by, you know, providing that learning and training to their, to their agents. But also building out a knowledge base.   and kind of cultivating those good habits and those best practices. So I think that there’s, there was a lot of area, this was an area of exploration for people, but on the whole, everybody really understands how critical it is.

Jim Lynch: [00:45:05] Yeah, I agree. I think that e-learning was a way for people to figure out how I can move training from my training classroom to a virtual environment. Well, a great way to do that, Amanda, is you upload some stuff into a learning management system. You know, you get them to go through, you get them to test, you know, you get them to grade out and be good.

They understand it. They got a passing grade and let’s go ahead and get them on the phone. The one thing that I will definitely do for the audience since there was zero for agent scripting, that’s an area I’d really suggest you guys take a look at. And the only reason is obviously e-learning is great.

We all learn things during the onboarding process, but then sometimes we forget or we get a little bit, a little bit lazy there. So let’s think about how we utilize agent scripting to help the agents on every single call. So it’s not necessarily, you want them to read it verbatim from a script, right, Amanda, it’s more of like, okay, I need to give you some talking points.

I need you to make sure you’re saying certain things, you know, maybe a certain closing or a certain opening or, I don’t know, many things come to mind depending on the scenario. So scripting is a big thing. I would take a look at. It just helps reinforce it.

And then, you know, look, if you’re providing an agent, a script or talking points, then you layer on top of that your speech analytics tools, you know, then you’re able to hit and agents can’t be like, oh, I forgot. You’re giving them the script in front of them. You’re giving them the talking points. It helps to remind them on what to do actually.

Amanda Butkewich: [00:46:34] A little more on that, on the scripting.

I think that there’s, you know, that there’s a huge, you know, compliance benefit to it that you touched on, but there’s also, you know, an agent experience benefit to it too. So you know, when agents are fielding these different calls, like there’s an infinite number of issues that they could be presented with.

Right. And sure, there’s the low hanging fruit, the kind of repeat issues that crop up constantly. Can I reset my password? What’s my balance, you know, can I bring my account up to date.   but, sometimes you’re going to be faced with a scenario that you haven’t run into before.

And that’s where the script comes in as almost like an agent empowerment tool.  And you can, you can help kind of be that invisible hand, guiding the agent through the interaction in a remote setting where you don’t have that over the shoulder visibility again. So it does go a really long way on so many different fronts to have agent scripting available.

Jim Lynch: [00:47:33] Awesome. Thanks, Amanda, great. So I know that we have about, about eight minutes left. So what we’re going to do is we’re actually to go into and look at a couple of operational tips and some things that we’d like to close with and in the few moments that we have as we’re transitioning, though, if you would, if you have any questions, go ahead and set them in the chat box down there.

And then at the end of the slide, Lindsay is going to go ahead and ask some of those questions that the audience has provided. So when we think about operational tips, Amanda. We talked about a lot today. We just spent the last 45 to 50 minutes talking through the survey report, but let’s leave some people, everyone with some tips that they can take home or back to the office with them.

So why don’t you go ahead and get started?

Amanda Butkewich: [00:48:15] Yeah, sure. So really quickly. The one thing that I do want to also leave folks with is because we’ve gone over, you know, a lot of statistics today. I’d like to leave it on a positive note, leave you with a positive stat. So a hundred percent of our respondents said that working from home did not have any negative impact on their workforce.

So I think that that’s interesting and kind of the theme that we’re going for here is that there’s this incongruity between the perception and the reality and, and that’s really what the report is all about. And so for those people, those 3 in 10 that do want to continue working remotely, our recommendations for continuing to optimize our, you know, let your best agents lead by example.

And that’s where recording a hundred percent of your calls is really going to create a treasure trove of learning resources for the entire customer service organization: use a scheduling tool, schedule smart, maybe split shifts.

I mean, agent, we know that 48% said agent flexibility is a huge boon.   so make that work for you and, and get yourself around the clock coverage that you know that you need with those high inbound call vol es.   grow your digital eyes and ears. I don’t think we could stress that enough, Jim.

So combine your call and screen recording with regular call calibration sessions. We did see some folks doing that. I think that that is for sure a best practice to take from 2020 and 2021, you know, work from home.   and then of course automate your quality management processes so that you can flag risks fast and that you’re not onboarding, you know, your new hires and, and teaching them bad habits.   so that’s what we leave you with. And now I’ll turn it over to you, Jim, if we have any questions.

Jim Lynch: [00:50:02] Yeah. And before we go, I want you to, I want everyone to think that  we talked a lot about using speech analytics for just your agents, but I want you to think about another way too. Amanda, you hit it on the head – record a hundred percent of your calls.

And remember that that communication is two way. It’s not just what your agents are saying. That’s what your customers are saying. Let’s learn what their pain points are. Let’s learn why we have high frequency calls that might not be, you know, ending in the direction that you want them to, or with the desired result.

So really use speech analytics in two ways – learn what your customers are thinking, why are they happy? Why are they frustrated? In addition to how to train your agents. And then the other thing, you know, for an operational tip that we have over there. Start to really look into utilizing virtual agents and AI, it’s going to help you improve.

It’s going to help the agents improve.   and you know, especially if you’re, if you’re struggling with agent productivity, let me tell you one thing that, that never struggles with productivity, is a virtual agent. A virtual agent is always there to answer the call. They’re always there to give the right answer.

Where they don’t have the right answer, that’s where you start to escalate it out to your agent. So start to think about it in that way. So, Lindsay, I know you’re out there. Let’s see. Do we have a couple of questions out there from the audience?

Lindsay Shelby: [00:51:18] Hey Jim. Yes. I think you sort of just mentioned this. We’re thinking about implementing speech analytics, but don’t want to boil the ocean. Where would you say they start?

Jim Lynch: [00:51:25] Yeah. So that’s a good one. So what I always say is that, you know, depending on the type of contact center that you’re in, let’s talk about from a customer care perspective first. A lot of people look at it and they start attacking their highest call volume first. The way that people get there is that, you know, normally everyone has an IVR.

If you don’t have an IVR, you know, get one. And there’s a lot of advanced ways to do that today. Look at the IVR, figure out where most of your call interactions are coming from. That’s where you can start at the highest value, lowest value calls, is where you start from. Now, if you’re on the collection side or you’re doing something that’s heavy in compliance, obviously your compliance officer’s going to want to look there.

So start to think about some of those easy things to pick off. If you’re in collections, some of those things that come top of mind is maybe the mini Miranda.   some of it might be around consent to call, consent to email, you know, let’s make sure that we’re asking those types of things. So again, if I was to start somewhere, I’d be looking at my IVR.

I’d be figuring out what my highest vol e, lowest value calls are, and I would start there and then I’d branch out into some type of compliance.

Lindsay Shelby: [00:52:37] Awesome. Here’s another operational one for you. What are some best practices for keeping remote agents motivated?

Jim Lynch: [00:52:45] Amanda, do you have some thoughts on this one? And then after you I’ll give my thoughts.

Amanda Butkewich: [00:52:50] Yeah. So going back to the open-ended section of the report, where we had people write in, like, what were some of the things that they were doing to kind of, you know, keep the morale   up.   and a lot of people, they, they, they were doing virtual happy hours. Some people started Facebook groups.

They were relying on social media to kind of get to know each other, stay connected more. And really continue to build that, those team bonds and get to know one another, especially in instances where, you know, new, new hires were being onboarded. buddy systems were something that I kind of learned a lot about in these open-ended responses where teams would take a more seasoned agent and pair them, you know, with somebody who is a little bit more green, maybe just recently joined the team.

And they would kind of shadow that seasoned agent. So I think, I think that that definitely went, went a long way and those were some of the things that we heard at least anecdotally.

Jim Lynch: [00:53:57] I think you hit on the head, Amanda. It was, how do I still make those remote agents feel like they’re part of something bigger, right? So it is, as crazy as it sounds for some, the happy hours are great. Contests, like don’t stop doing contests just because they’re not in the contact center. Do contests base them off of KPIs.

Right? Make sure you have the statistics in front of you. And look, you’re not trying to, you know, punish bad behavior, really work on rewarding the good behavior. Do you have one other thing to add, Amanda?

Amanda Butkewich: [00:54:28] I was, it was a, it was a good segue too, because one of the things that a few people wrote in that they did and this was both this year and last year as part of those contests, the rewards would be, you know, a Starbucks gift card or a Starbucks gift card, or an Uber eats gift card or something like that.

Like, hey, let me get lunch for you to kind of drum up that competition, but also make folks feel valued and feel rewarded.

Jim Lynch: [00:54:56] Good. And Lindsay, we probably have enough time for one more question, then we can close it out.

Lindsay Shelby: [00:55:01] Yep. I think this segues nicely into our last final question. How much of an impact does the onboarding experience have on long-term agent success?

Jim Lynch: [00:55:11] Wow, so I’ll, I’ll start there Amanda, and then you can add on anything after that. I would say that the onboard experience is the most important thing that you can do. So if you don’t have anything, like e-learning, you need to do it. If you don’t have anything like a great coaching plan, you know, to help onboard people and really give them some extra time, especially in a remote environment, that’s where the most dangers of losing people are.

And I think everyone on the call will agree with us today that you’re losing most of your agents in the first week. Then it starts to tail down to two weeks, three weeks. Look, once you get someone on the role for 60 days or more, it’s a lot easier to keep them. That first 60 days is so important and. I would say onboarding is something everyone should really be looking at and really thinking about from a remote workforce, especially as you start to expand out to the national audience there.

[00:56:00] Amanda, what do you have for that?

Amanda Butkewich: [00:56:02] Yeah, I completely agree. I think the first 90 days are crucial. That’s where you’re, that’s where you’re building those good habits and you’re instilling those best practices, but I would actually take it a step. Kind of move it, move it a step back and say in your hiring process if you are going to continue to be remote, you need to start looking for candidates who can thrive in a remote environment.

So you need people that are self-starters, that are driven, that can self-motivate. There’s a different kind of mentality. A different kind of, you know, set of motivations that people work from when they work remotely. And so I think that that’s also really critical in this process.

We also for anybody that’s interested, we do have a resource that is specifically about onboarding and how to lead contact center teams in a distributed environment or in an in-person event. Our contact center leader ebook, which is available on our website. So if anybody’s interested in checking that out and maybe Lindsay, we can follow up with that as a resource after the call.

Jim Lynch: [00:57:10] And this is great. I hope that we were able to give people some insight. Hopefully there’s some really good stats in this report. You’ll be able to share back with leadership inside your organizations, understand where you are compared to your peers.   and Lindsay with that, hopefully this was great for everyone.

Thanks for having us today. And if you want to give any closing remarks.

Lindsay Shelby: [00:57:30] Yes. Thank you so much, Jim and Amanda really appreciate your time today, everyone. Thank you for joining. We will be sending out a copy of this recording as well as some follow-up assets.   and we hope you have a great rest of your day.

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LiveVox (Nasdaq: LVOX) is a next-generation contact center platform that powers more than 14 billion interactions a year. By seamlessly integrating omnichannel communications, CRM, AI, and WFO capabilities, the Company’s technology delivers an exceptional agent and customer experience while reducing compliance risk. With 20 years of cloud experience and expertise, LiveVox’s CCaaS 2.0 platform is at the forefront of cloud contact center innovation. The Company has more than 500 global employees and is headquartered in San Francisco, with offices in Atlanta; Columbus; Denver; New York City; St. Louis; Medellin, Colombia; and Bangalore, India. To stay up to date with everything LiveVox, follow us at @LiveVox or visit livevox.com.

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