As we all adjust to a new normal to help limit the spread of COVID-19, home-based contact center agents in particular are being asked to radically change the way they work. To keep operations up and running—and to serve customers that may be in more need than ever before—this involved shifting contact center supervisors and agents from a highly social, team-oriented environment to one that involves physical isolation at home.
As the contact center industry faces never-before-seen challenges in providing quality customer support, it’s also important to remember that home-based contact center agents also need support, requiring the right level of communications, trust and sense of well-being to effectively work through these challenging times.
The good news is that today’s cloud-based contact center solutions have embedded home-based agent capabilities into their platforms to make the technology ‘transparent’ to use no matter where agents and contact center managers are located. With the right technology in place, companies can put themselves in a better position to successfully deploy a home-based contact center agent team, including ensuring the health, safety and effectiveness of agents.
Below are just a few areas across both technological and human factors to take into account as you kick off or fine-tune your home-based contact center operations:
Trust is critical
Success starts with trusting your home-based contact workers. More than ever, we are now required to give our colleagues at home the trust they deserve to get the job done! All in all, it’s about trust from the employer, combined with a sense of responsibility on the part of agents and employees. Anyone who is self-directed, self-taught, independent and curious has a good basis for effectively starting work as a home-based agent. Managers are encouraged to promote an environment where trust is paramount in getting the job done.
Technology is no longer an obstacle
Even prior to Covid-19, remote working required little more than an internet connection and the right software. However, providing remote access to an entire customer contact center environment does require some more advanced technical effort and capabilities. All the necessary applications must be accessed by the employee, including the telephony part of the platform, in basically the same way as they would in the physical contact center. This includes security and compliance.
A sound cloud-based CX and contact center platform also should support the easy connectivity of all underlying systems and applications, so that a total picture of all data related to customer interactions can be provided to home-based agents. With a cloud-based omnichannel contact center solution, all of this is possible today, and can be turned on quickly—in a matter of days.
Clear commitments are a requirement
It is important to agree in advance on how and when agents will work, and how any typical work practices may change as a result of home working. After all, the opening hours of customer service departments and daily call volumes are still expected and estimated in advance. It is therefore necessary that clear agreements are made with agents on set working hours, and that managers can easily monitor coverage. In this sense, flexible working is limited to agreements made in advance. There must be a clear commitment between agent and contact center manager, where the manager can count on the hours, and the agent can be available and “guaranteed” to work.
Finally, solutions that enable agents to perform self-planning and set availability can help them take personal and family needs into account when scheduling shifts. In order to make this effective for contact center managers, it’s also important to enable a mixed pool of qualified agents, who can cover all the necessary requirements in terms of both deployability and skills to help keep your operations up and running.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of our agent engagement blog post coming soon to learn more ways to help.
In the meantime, if you’d like advice on how to best enable and engage home-based contact center agents at your company, let us show you how! Email firstname.lastname@example.org.