Interview with Stephen Yap, Research Director CCMA

12th Jul 2023

At Disrupt 2023, Joe O’Brien, Corporate Communications Manager at Sabio Group interviewed Stephen Yap, Research Director at the CCMA, on the benefits of empowering contact centre advisors to help deliver excellent CX. 

In this video, Stephen highlights the importance of wellbeing in the contact centre, particularly taking breaks to avoid burnout, and how to detect early signs of advisor stress.


Stephen says: "I've really looked at wellbeing on the front line. I've looked at the things that underpin wellbeing. I've looked at the things that promote wellbeing that can also undermine wellbeing. We've found things like the importance of taking breaks, which seems like such a self-evident and obvious thing, but actually what the research (Wellbeing in the Contact Centre – a CCMA Research Initiative) quantitatively proves is that taking breaks is the biggest difference to anything when it comes to looking at those who experienced symptoms of stress or burnout in the job versus those who don't."  


Stephen says: "It's the ability to take breaks but then it's harder than ever before to be able to take breaks and there's a lot of reasons for that; demand is high, occupancies are getting higher, average handle times are higher. Fundamentally the conversations coming into the contact centre are becoming a lot more complex and taking longer to resolve while the simple stuff is increasingly being automated. So fundamentally, the demand that's going into contact centre is changing."  


Stephen says: "We talked about some of the ways in which technology is starting to help in terms of providing decision support systems to advisors on the frontline, helping them to serve customers better and to understand what customers want and expect better. We talked about tools that are starting to come out that will help with workforce planning and that will help team leaders - and particularly team leaders who today are increasingly managing remotely managing a hybrid workforce and it's so much harder to spot those emerging signs of stress.  

"If you're not physically together with somebody, and if somebody is only across the screen from you, how can you tell if they're doing well or if they're not doing well? There are emerging tools that are starting to be deployed that are helping to automatically detect those symptoms, or those early signs, and to recommend those interventions. Even if it's something as simple as saying to an advisor 'you should be taking a break now, now go into wrap', or ‘you should take five minutes wrap right now’, or whether it's simply flagging to a manager that actually somebody may be in need of some downtime."


Stephen says: "Empowerment works at every level. And the importance of empowerment cannot be overstated. We have seen greater empowerment of the contact centre, and particularly in recent years the contact centre has been elevated. I think with the pandemic threat, and everything that happened during the pandemic, this has been one of the more positive side effects. I think there is a greater recognition in organisations of what contact centres do and the value that contact centres bring to brands and organisations, so that is one level of empowerment.  

"Going straight all the way to the frontline and the people on the frontline, empowerment is one of the building blocks of wellbeing. If you want to feel well, if you want to be productive, if you want to minimise your absences or instances of people working when they are not fit to work, then empowerment is a big, big part of it. The contact centre has always been a place and a career where there's a great deal of 'always on' and there's a great deal which you cannot control. Although that will continue to be the case, more and more we are finding ways to give back some control to the people on the frontline. Tools and technologies definitely have a role to play in creating that added sense of control, that sense of empowerment that I can actually influence outcomes and can make decisions, have a role to play and I'm not just implementing a script that someone else has written and I have no say over. The more that you can help people to feel like they have the ability to use their decision-making capabilities, the more you can empower them to feel in control over their career, their job, their outcomes, then ultimately, the more well they will be." 

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