The world of work has changed. 2023 saw some huge new transformations, as well as slower ongoing shifts. From generative AI to the return-to-office, 2024 is going to see big shifts in how we work. To effectively support your employees, you need to be on top of those trends. In the fast-moving world of the contact center, being on top of 2024’s employee experience trends is an acute challenge. A failure to adapt could mean losing out on the best talent, or even seeing an increase in employee attrition. An adaptable workplace is a resilient one.
In this blog, we break down some of the key employee experience trends of 2024, how those trends are likely to affect your business, and what you can do to adapt to them. We discuss:
Generative AI and in particular, its impact on customer communications;
The return to the office, and the changing role of hybrid working;
The shift away from voice and toward omni-channel;
The effects of a global economic slowdown;
When it comes to tracking key trends in customer contact, Content Guru never takes its eye off the ball. To learn more about the big shifts affecting the contact center, download our recent whitepaper, Customer Contact for the Future: Why Proactive CX is the Next Step for Your Contact Center.
Generative AI for Employee Experience in 2024
After an explosion of hype in early 2023, the dust is settling around generative AI. As some potential applications are revealed as infeasible, others have emerged as serious drivers of value:
Customer-facing chatbots are out. After some high-profile blunders, businesses are cautious about any new toys the customer can break.
Agent-support chatbots are in. Everything from script suggestions to knowledge articles, to individual feedback; generative AI can play the role of the supervisor. Here’s how:
An agent takes a customer's call. Alongside the screen-pops presenting customer data, the agent receives script suggestions created by generative AI. The AI is listening in on the conversation in real-time, thanks to Natural Language Processing (NLP), and generating potential agent responses. These responses draw on your business's own knowledge resources, to create an accurate output, complete with citations. The agent can then review this output, deciding whether or not it’s accurate and useful to the customer.
Generative AI is powerful, but it’s not without limitations. Rather than replacing humans, AI requires human supervision:
Generative AI is prone to ‘hallucinations’ (that is, false information presented as true) and probably always will be. With no independent conscious experience, and no ability to distinguish between truth and falsehood, it’s never going to be possible to trust generative AI one hundred percent.
AI is a black box. We can’t say why a certain input led to a certain output. This poses challenges for optimization and regulation. To properly protect your customers, you need a human in the system to review all outputs.
Generative AI is obedient to a fault. If the customer asks it to jump, it jumps. If the customer asks it to write a haiku about why your business is terrible, sit back and enjoy the fireworks. Stunts like these seem funny from the outside, but can seriously damage the reputation of your business.
All in all, generative AI will transform employee experience in 2024, as more people grow comfortable using the technology on a daily basis, and Large Language Models continue to develop. This doesn’t mean that you can abandon caution, however.
Hybrid Working and Employee Experience in 2024
Since 2020, hybrid working has been the norm for businesses around the world. 35% of workers now have the option to work from home full time, and 23% have the option to work hybrid, some days at home, some in the office. The reasons for this are clear:
Hybrid working opens up cost efficiencies; employees don’t have to spend time and money on the morning commute, and employers don’t have to pay for expensive and unnecessary office space.
Hybrid working broadens your talent pool; with geography removed as a limiting factor, you can recruit the best talent from a much wider area.
Hybrid working improves employee experience; able to work from the comfort of their own homes, employees' lives improve dramatically.
But, not everyone is satisfied with the shift to remote working. Many businesses are mourning the loss of the office environment and its accompanying culture of collaboration. This has prompted the ‘return-to-office’ movement, calling for employees to go back to in-person work. And they have some pretty convincing arguments:
The office is a space for collaboration; work gets done faster when your colleagues are only a short walk away.
Company culture matters; in-person interaction is far more effective at cultivating a group ethos than a phone call.
Security is paramount; a workforce distributed around the country opens up the potential for security risks. Ensuring that company systems are only accessed from within a single location ensures far deeper security.
So how is this employee experience trend likely to evolve in 2024? Well, don’t expect hybrid working to go anywhere; it’s simply too convenient to abandon. But do expect to hear news of more return-to-office mandates and increasing calls for in-person participation. This debate is a long way from being settled.
Omni-Channel Customer Contact and Employee Experience
Ours is a digital world. More people than ever (and in particular, younger people) are moving away from voice as a primary channel of contact. Over 70% of Millennials and Gen Z would prefer a text message over a phone call. This doesn’t mean that the age of voice is over; far from it. What it does mean, is that contact center agents are going to be required to service a broader range of channels than ever before.
The omni-channel contact center will be established as the norm in 2024. In this case, omni-channel means customers can contact you over the channels they prefer, at any time, and from any location.
Different channels have different requirements; voice contacts, for instance, are synchronous, meaning that an agent can answer one voice call at a time. Social media channels tend to be asynchronous, meaning that an agent can respond to multiple text conversations at once.
This will lead to increasing specialization within the contact center; some agents will get better at answering multiple text conversations at once, and others will perfect their over-the-phone manner.
Voice calls aren’t going anywhere. They’re still going to constitute the majority of incoming contacts in 2024, but simultaneously, non-voice channels such as social media, text, and email will grow in popularity. The implication for employee experience trends in 2024 will be an increase in specialization, and the need for agents to develop a broader range of skills.
Economic Slowdown and its Effect on Employee Experience in 2024
The past few years have been rough. From pandemics to wars to inflation, we’ve seen our share of turbulence. That doesn’t look set to change in 2024, with most economists predicting a generally flat or negative outlook. That has several implications for employee experience:
Businesses are going to look to increase value whilst cutting costs to stay afloat. In 2023, that looked like mass layoffs. The signs are slightly better for 2024, but some layoffs still seem likely.
Contact center supervisors will be asked to focus on developing talent, looking to empower agents with new tools (generative AI among them), more intuitive interfaces, and intelligent routing that takes the pressure off agents.
Agent attrition will remain one of the most pressing concerns for contact centers, as they continue to compete for the best talent. Perks like the ability to work flexibly, easy-to-use technology, and better opportunities to train and upskill will be essential in winning the race for talent.
2024 poses acute challenges but also offers potential tools to help in meeting them. There’s never been a more exciting time for Customer Experience, as more and more organizations recognize how critical effective communications are to driving business per capita efficiency.
Meeting Employee Experience Trends in 2024 with Content Guru
Excited to meet the challenges of the new year? With over two decades of experience designing and implementing world-class CX solutions, Content Guru is ready to support you. Whatever the needs of your business in 2024, our team of experts can provide insights and guidance, to make 2024 your best year yet.
Ready to learn more about what Content Guru can do for your employee experience? Continue your employee experience journey by downloading our new whitepaper, Customer Contact for the Future: Why Proactive CX is the Next Step for Your Contact Center.