Managing a call center caught up in the uncertainty of a worldwide pandemic is no small feat. However, there are a number of important guidelines and tips you can keep in mind to help ease your center’s workforce into remote working and mitigate contagion risks.
Remote contact center operations have been around for some time now, but the need for such operational approaches has been magnified by the growing threat of Covid-19 and the heightened importance of social distancing policies to curb the virus’s spread.
Here, we have compiled a number of useful best practices and tips for you to utilize as your contact center shifts towards remote work to maintain productivity during trying times.
Best Practices for Better Remote Working
Establish and Maintain Clear Communication Practices
Diversify communication channels as much as is appropriate. Too few options expose your organization to downtime risks and loss of revenue. On the other hand, opening too many channels for customers and personnel can invite unnecessary confusion into daily operations.
Internal chat systems for employees are a must, as are management monitoring tools to keep track of agent performance. Interaction analytics make it possible to highlight complications in both written and oral communication as they arise.
For more information on transitioning from centralized contact centers to a work-from-home workforce, download our whitepaper, Contact Center Practices and Guidelines for Managing Through COVID-19
Make Lulls in Response Time Clear to Customers
Callers looking for assistance may not be aware of your organization’s current challenges and are likely to judge any perceived inconvenience harshly without being notified of necessary changes to your internal operations. To offset this risk, you should clarify what issues you may be having through whatever means are most effective.
This may mean making special use of your Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system to notify callers the moment they open lines of communication with your company. Alerts and reminders can also be sent to customers via email or text as needed.
Letting customers know what is going on within your organization can create opportunities to direct them to self-service alternatives where possible. By directing callers to such services, you can make a positive impact on overall customer experience without further straining your existing infrastructure.
Automate Scheduling Processes
As your workforce acclimates to the changes remote working presents, schedules are bound to shift, and timing will need to be fine-tuned. This can be done manually, but the entire scheduling process can also be automated for greater efficiency through the use of Workforce Management solutions or scheduling software.
WFM suites offer mobility applications with the capacity to fully automate scheduling tasks, lightening the load for management teams.
Tips to Leverage a Remote Workforce
Look for Sustainable Procedural Improvements
It is imperative that contact center leadership look beyond the immediate concerns driving this shift to remote labor and consider the potential for long-term improvement in overall operational efficiency.
Remote working poses several notable benefits for businesses when sustained in moderation, including sharp reductions in operating costs and significant reductions in turnover. Areas worth paying special attention to include location independent security processes and systems access. Affording your workforce such improvements allows for more adaptive labor and recruitment approaches to be implemented down the line.
Prioritize Flexibility Over Precision
Although scheduling policies are likely to be disrupted, an increase in flexibility can aid in maintaining a consistent customer experience. Relax all real-time adherence practices to make better use of the increased flexibility your agents can provide in terms of working hours and strategic overtime.
Flexibility in overall performance can be leveraged through an on-demand scheduling approach. Your organization’s agents can be scheduled over a far more diverse range of time slots, potentially allowing limited teams to achieve close to 24×7 uptime.
Keep Agents Active With or Without CRM Access
The need for agents to remain connected from afar should supersede the risk of them not having access to your company’s Customer Relationship Management system. Issues surrounding access to customer-specific information stored in such systems can be overcome through multi-channel communication with managers and supervisors who can securely use them.
The tips and guidelines covered above are not only useful in the wake of this global pandemic; you can improve remote performance and coordination in general by applying what you have read here, bolstering the long-term adaptability of your business in the process.
How has your company streamlined its remote working processes?