*This post has been updated with new information.
The contact center has been evolving since its inception and, most recently, has been pulling a magical act—disappearing. Many companies are now moving towards adopting virtual contact centers or virtual remote staffing.
This highly innovative approach is not only cost effective, but it also enables companies to find the best and highest quality talent from anywhere in the country and across the globe. In addition, the recent outbreak of the coronavirus means call center agents that would normally be in-office are working from home.
There are certain best practices that you can adopt to get the best outcomes from your at-home employees. The following practices have been outlined by the early adopters and influenced by the latest learning from remote contact center companies.
Best Practices for Deploying Work from Home Contact Center Agents
Effective Scheduling through Workforce Management Software: Comprehensive and effective scheduling of your contact center agents is essential for smooth sailing when managing a virtual contact center environment. Workforce Management (WFM) software enables supervisors, who don’t have in-person access to agents, to deploy and monitor real-time adherence. This will verify that the virtual agents start work on time and take their breaks at the scheduled time.
Remote Compliance of Organizational Policies: Remote agents’ working environments should comply with the organization’s policies. Agents should have a disturbance-free space with no distractions so that they can work comfortably and with maximum efficiency. This is not always possible, and it is important that especially when work-at-home is not the typical environment for employees, support and training are available. Compassion and empathy should always take the lead.
High-speed Internet and Proper Equipment: Agents should have high-speed internet connections, PCs or laptops that meet the system requirements of the company, plus headsets and power backups. It is highly recommended that laptops are provided for agents and that internet speeds are monitored on a regular basis.
If the Internet speed is not adequate, VOIP calls will be jittery and choppy. In these situations, agents should also have a separate telephone line that can be used for phone calls. It is a good idea to verify that the contact center software deployed supports agent connections to remote phone numbers.
Deploy Quality Management Software: Quality management software should be used to monitor and score agent interactions. Records of performance scores and real-time monitoring and reporting should be done to enhance and improve the performance of remote agents just as it is done in the physical office environment.
Computer Screen Recordings: Supervisors and managers should have the ability to view and record agents’ screens. Screen recordings close the gap between a traditional on-site agent and a work from home agent. Being able to see how the agents are interacting with different applications as they handle customers inquires can help supervisors identify issues and offer a great training tool.
Training: Training remote agents is essential before proceeding with work. Providing the necessary materials and guidance is required for the agents to be successful in your organization. As you onboard new agents or transition veterans to work-at-home models, make sure you provide an safe space for feedback.
Effective and Open Communication: Effective communication is a vital component in the success of the work from home contact center approach. Collaborating with the agents makes them feel that they are a part of the physical team. Encourage positive communication and arrange for video conferencing with the agents on a regular basis.
Incentivize Remote Agents: Rewards and benefits should be given to the best agents in order to boost the overall performance and efficiency. Some companies pay per call and survey result. For example, if you handled 30 calls and your survey or QM results were above a predetermined range, you would receive a higher rate per call.
Generate Positive Customer Experiences Built On Empathy
The impact of the coronavirus on customer service is unprecedented, and everyone is reeling from the sudden economic and behavior shifts. Your managers, contact center agents, and customers are all faced with challenging times. Ensure that your provide empathy in every action. Agents who have the proper training and support will provide your customers a better experience.
By following these practices, great results can be generated through deploying work from home agents. Over the past few years, several big contact center operators have utilized virtual agents effecitvely, even at a larger scale. It is very important to have a contact center solution, along with experienced consultants to guarantee a smooth transition.
If you are considering deploying remote agents and would like some help in doing so, please contact us today!
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About The Authors
John Irey is a Principal Consultant at Mindsight focused on Cisco platforms. With nearly 20 years of experience in information technology, John has helped businesses of every size optimize the technology powering the contact center. He seeks to provide a consultative voice to contact center leaders and continues to focus on emerging technology, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence.
Kleid Gjataj is a Principal Consultant at Mindsight focused on Genesys platforms. With nearly 15 years of experience in both domestic and international consulting, Kleid helps contact center s of all sizes bridge the gap between business and technology. His extensive experience with IVR, ACD, screen pops, omnichannel, speech analytics, quality management, outbound dialer, and custom applications is grounded in understanding the critical value of the customer journey.
Siobhan Climer writes about technology trends in education, healthcare, and business. With over a decade of experience communicating complex concepts around everything from cybersecurity to neuroscience, Siobhan is an expert at breaking down technical and scientific principles so that everyone takes away valuable insights. When she’s not writing tech, she’s reading and writing fantasy, hiking, and exploring the world with her twin daughters. Find her on twitter @techtalksio.
Originally Published: February 14, 2015