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How employee
segmentation
models can benefit
contact center
workforce
management

Author: Phil Muncaster

Contact center staff have become more important than ever during the pandemic. On the customer front lines in extremely challenging circumstances, they've emerged as a key differentiator between successful business communications and failures. In this sector, contact center workforce management is a critical process to get right. If contact center staff are happy, productive and motivated, they're more likely to keep your customers happy in turn.

To optimize these efforts, human resources (HR) teams are increasingly looking to persona-based management and an employee segmentation model. When done right, these activities can have a significant impact on retention, job satisfaction and, ultimately, the corporate bottom line.

Why customer service matters

According to a 2020 Microsoft study, 90% of global consumers believe customer service is "somewhat" to "very" important in their choice of a brand. More than half (58%) claim they'll cut ties with a business due to poor customer service, and a similar number (55%) had higher expectations for customer service than during the previous year. Separate data from Salesforce reveals that most consumers (84%) rate customer experience as equally important as the product or service a company delivers.

The importance of customer support only grows during times of crisis, when heightened customer emotions can trigger more emphatic and lingering responses to interactions with service operatives. The volatility of the past year has made it particularly difficult for businesses to meet these rising expectations—keeping staff productive while shifting to remote work and managing a surge in complaints. Around 80% of organizations saw increased pressure on their digital services in 2020, with three-quarters (74%) claiming customer-facing services like customer support create the greatest pressure, according to PagerDuty. On average, support staff experienced a 47% increase in incidents.

Whichever way you look at it, customer support agents are the key to unlocking loyalty, brand value and profits. So how can you get the most out of your workforce?

What are persona-based management and the employee segmentation model?

Effective contact center workforce management lies at the heart of any successful organization. It's all about maximizing the value your employees create for the business in a way that aligns with corporate objectives. Performance management should always be based around two-way discussions between the employee and employer—a set of processes that together can define individual staff member goals and help them to achieve these goals.

An increasingly popular process that can help to support these activities is workforce or employee segmentation. It recognizes that your employees have different needs, goals and ways of working. They're motivated by different benefits and respond differently to external policies. Yet in too many organizations, performance management strategies are developed as if employees are all the same. This can lead to wasted resources and suboptimal performance.

Segmentation is a popular technique in marketing that divides a target market up into smaller groups of potential customers who share key traits. It's all about driving personalization and relevance to boost success rates. Employee segmentation takes the same approach, except the "product" you're selling is career progression and the "customer" is the employee.

How does it work?

The best way to segment your employee base is by designing a specific set of survey questions and analyzing the responses. However, the end result can seem a little scientific and austere.

To humanize the results, you could use the same data, plus more qualitative information, to create a series of "personas"—fictional characters that embody a specific set of shared attributes. These could include:

  • Professional experience
  • Age
  • Attitudes
  • Where they live and work
  • Career goals
  • Motivation

Creating the right employee segmentation model isn't easy. Don't be afraid to search for examples of how similar organizations to yours have approached the challenge. It may help you to overcome any specific bumps in the road you encounter. However, a good rule to remember is to always be faithful to the underlying data.

How does it help HR?

COVID-19 has made many employees reconsider what kind of office they want to work in and whether they're even happy in their current careers. Against this backdrop, employers must work harder to motivate and engage with their staff, and they must find more effective ways to manage and improve performance.

Personalizing your interactions with employees through an employee segmentation model is a great way to achieve this. It can offer the following benefits:

  • Establish performance objectives that are better tailored to each individual
  • Make learning and development objectives more relevant
  • Design benefits and rewards that reflect different employees' preferences
  • Reduce costs and inefficiencies of overly broad performance management techniques

Overall, it should help enhance the employee experience and reduce administrative overheads.

Contact center workforce management: Enhancing the contact center through employee segmentation

The employee segmentation model is particularly appropriate for use in contact center workforce management. A CareerExplorer analysis suggests that employees working in this space are among the least satisfied with their careers of those in any industry. Yet by making performance objectives, development goals and rewards more personalized and relevant, you can drive motivation and enhance performance.

According to Harvard Business Review, happier employees can lead to happier customers. This link is particularly strong in industries where the two parties directly interact. It stands to reason that a motivated, high-performing customer service operative will be better equipped to create the right outcomes for customers than one that isn't. This improves brand value and customer loyalty in turn. Happier, better-performing call center staff should also reduce turnover, driving a virtuous circle of employee well-being and lower hiring overheads. That's a win-win for any organization looking to maximize value and growth.

Discover more ways to enhance your contact center workforce management.