Question: Does “hybrid workforce” have more than one meaning in a contact center?
Yes, there are two commonly accepted uses of the term hybrid workforce in the contact center world. The first is an operating environment where agents (and hopefully other contact center employees including supervisors, quality management specialists, workforce management administrators, etc.) are allowed to perform their job both on-site in the contact center and from a remote location, which is generally their home. Companies who use this staffing model schedule employees to be on-site and at their remote work location at specified times (certain hours or days of the week/month). When well executed, this approach is beneficial for both contact centers and their employees. It enables contact center managers to see their agents when they work on-site, schedule in-person coaching, training and recognition, or manage space limitations. For employees, it provides flexibility as it allows them to work both in the office and from home.
The second definition of a hybrid workforce relates to the combined use of automated resources and humans to staff contact centers. Typically, these automated resources are conversational AI-based intelligent virtual agents (IVAs). Since customers are generally happy to interact with intelligent self-service solutions that can respond in a conversational manner, provide correct answers or guidance, handle a majority of their requests, and have the sensitivity to know when to transfer them to a live agent, IVAs are a great supplement to human agents. Intelligent virtual agents can also support omni-channel environments so a customer can start in one channel and move seamlessly to another or change topics within a single interaction. IVAs can also transfer contextual data to human agents when interactions are escalated.