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The next normal: Building back better CX

29th Sep 2021
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TTEC EMEA recently published a white paper exploring The Next Normal - how to build back better customer relationships after the pandemic. One section of the white paper explored changing employee expectations as the pandemic subsides. In this article I’m drawing on that section of the white paper and adding a few additional ideas. For more details and to download this complete white paper - and see our range of other resources - please click here.

The Next Normal: Employee Expectations

Many of those employees sent home during the pandemic found that they no longer needed to endure the cost and time spent commuting. Some complained of isolation and a desire to see their team in person again, but these issues were reduced if employers actively focused on creating virtual social channels - so teams could work together more easily.

The 5th Talent Work At Home Study published in April 2021 asked almost 6,000 contact centre employees in 13 countries about their experience and their ongoing expectations. 92% were agents and 8% were supervisors and managers.

One of the key takeaways from the research is how far opinions have shifted regarding a return to the contact centre. When asked how they want to continue working only 2% said that they wanted to return to a contact centre full-time.

In May 2020 the same research study found that the most popular choice was a hybrid blend of working from home with access to an office or contact centre. in this most recent edition of the study, 69% said that they would prefer to work from home 100% of the time with access to the contact centre only required for specific activities, such as training, management meetings, and team socialisation.

Research by PwC in the US found that 88% of companies are experiencing higher than usual turnover in 2021. A desire for flexibility now rivals dissatisfaction with salary as one of the strongest reasons why people are quitting their job.

Every executive with responsibility for managing a team working inside a contact centre needs to be aware of how far sentiment has shifted. There are opportunities available for companies that survey their employees and meet them halfway - using intelligent workforce management (WFM) to create a more flexible working environment for the employees and the ability to offer more flexible coverage to clients.

Some employees live in shared accommodation, or with their family, and it’s likely that they are keen to return to the office because they just don’t have the physical space at home to carve out an area for work. Some may have small children or caring responsibilities and the office environment allows them to focus on work in a way that is difficult at home.

Conversely, many people have found that without the need to commute and spend a fixed amount of the day in an office, they have far greater flexibility. As managers have started to focus more on deliverables and contribution, rather than just presence in the office, there has been a healthy shift towards a better work environment and a fairer evaluation of performance.

The key for managers moving forward will be to engage with their employees. Survey them. Ask them for feedback. Find the proportion who want to retain more flexibility and who wants to be back in the office full-time. The 5th Talent research shows that most people want a more flexible work environment - they don’t want to be 100% in the office or 100% working from home. They want to choose.

Employers need to facilitate this choice, but need to ensure that smart WFM allows for more flexible shift patterns and communications platforms are in place to connect remote teams. In the USA they are calling this period ‘The Great Resignation’ as employees quit in search of more flexibility. Don’t be a victim by assuming that you can just return to how your company operated in 2019. Your employees have changed.

TTEC’s latest whitepaper; The Next Normal can be downloaded here;



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