Remote employment is becoming increasingly popular across the United States. Working from home gives employees a break from the constant office noise along with the opportunity to embrace a more flexible schedule that improves their work-life balance. In fact, remote work grew by 44% in the last five years. As more employers discover that remote opportunities don’t just benefit the employee, the popularity is expected to grow.
In addition to the benefits remote employment offers businesses and their employees, it also opens the door to new struggles, and hurdles businesses need to learn to overcome. Contact centers especially struggle with how to train, manage, and engage agents properly. Since contact center agents interact with customers daily, it is essential that you create a plan and strategy for keeping at home agents engaged from afar. Otherwise, you risk poor performance, lost customers, and a damaged reputation.
Tips to Keep At-Home Agents Engaged
Here are eight tips to keep your at-home agents engaged and productive.
Communication is key
Whether an agent sits in a cubicle or their home office, they want to feel like they are an important piece of your business or else they will start to lose their drive. Schedule weekly calls with your agent team that give everybody a chance to get know and interact with each other.
This consistent communication builds strong relationships amongst team members making ongoing communication easier. As their manager, it is also important that you include at-home employees in all internal communications. If you share updates desk side, these should also be shared with remote agents via email or chat communication options.
Just like in-office agents need to know what is expected of them performance wise, so do at-home agents. Before an agent begins working from home, review performance expectations and set goals for them to meet in their new environment. The metrics used to measure an at-home agent’s performance will probably be different since they may work flexible hours or handle a specific type of incoming call.
Personalize their training
At-home agents have different struggles, needs, and resources which sometimes requires specific training in regards to customer satisfaction, average handle time, compliance, or even sentiment. It’s important that you not only create remote agent training programs, but that you also personalize training for each specific agent. Review their performance metrics weekly to uncover areas they are struggling with and then require the agents to complete trainings specific to their weakest areas.
Gamification is the use of games and technology to offer incentives to employees based on their performance metrics. The idea of gamification encourages agents to use your software solutions, follow scripts, and keep your contact center on track to meet ongoing goals.
Recognize their efforts
Out of sight, out of mind is not a valuable strategy when it comes to managing at-home agents. It is still important to recognize their efforts and ongoing achievements through inter-office emails, on weekly calls, or during meetings. Recognition makes agents feel important and appreciated which is even more important when an agent works from home and doesn’t get to communicate daily with their manager.
Hire the right agents
Not every personality is cut out for working at home. If you hire agents that aren’t motivated, it will negatively impact your contact center’s productivity. The great news is that your ideal candidate pool is much larger so it is okay to be picky. Conduct multiple interviews, thoroughly check references, and pay attention to applicants that are capable of navigating an online application process with ease versus those that struggle.
Consistent feedback that tells an agent where they measure up in regards to the expectations you set and overall contact center goals is crucial. Feedback can come in the way of call scoring, but is most beneficial when you implement an automated call scoring system.
Automated call scoring automatically scores 100% of contact center conversations and grades the agent on their performance. The software sends call scoring outcomes in real time to agents, so they know exactly where they need to improve for better results.
Sell it to your stakeholders
If work-at-home agents are a new avenue for your contact center, there is a high chance that not everybody will be onboard. Especially agents that still have to report to work every day. It is imperative you gather and collect data over the initial introduction so you can make improvements where necessary and share the results with the non-believers in your company.
As millennials and younger generations take over the workforce, we can expect to see remote employment increase. While the new norm may seem scary, it won’t be as difficult when you create a plan and strategy based on these eight tips. Software like interaction analytics is the easiest method to gather the data you need, track agents’ ongoing performance, and make changes without having to do it all manually.