Like all businesses, contact centers and customer service agents have had to adjust to the COVID-19 pandemic by rapidly transitioning to teleworking environments. Some had previously adopted a cloud strategy to enable greater flexibility and adaptability under any conditions. Others, though, are still trying to manage the transition and figure out the best processes and technologies to enable agents to work remotely.
While some are touting this massive work-from-home scenario as the new normal, for the majority of contact centers and customer support organizations, it’s anything but normal. Companies that hadn’t already started thinking about remote agent capabilities have found themselves behind the curve instantly.
In order to facilitate a smooth transition, they need not only the right technology that will bring their agent tool sets into home environments, but they need to have rollout and education process that will help staff easily make the adjustment. Working from home isn’t the same as working in an office. That’s not to say it can’t be as effective – if not more – but it has to be implemented strategically.
That’s particularly important for customer-facing teams, like contact center agents. We’re in an age where customer loyalty is frail, and many are more than willing to switch brands at any moment of weakness or dissatisfaction – and with tensions higher than normal during this national health crisis, their tolerance may be even lower than normal. As a result, moving contact centers in the teleworking environments has to be done well, following proven best practices, to make sure agents have access to their resources, the connections to customer databases are intact, and agents know how to use their systems from their homes and have the right hardware – like a high quality headset and reliable Internet connection – to be able to perform their roles. Even simple things, like how to best set up a home office – especially if you don’t have a dedicated space to use, like a separate home office, are important.
It also means implementing and training teams on workforce management tools, to help agents adjust to new work-life balance scenarios while maintaining the resources needed to handle customer needs – which may be significantly higher than during normal times.
My colleague, Moe Nagle, is moderating a webinar on Wednesday, May 6, called, Your Work from Home Contact Center: Getting the Foundation Right. As the title implies, this webinar is meant to help contact centers and other customer service teams successfully manage this unprecedented situation in a way that ensures consistent customer experiences. The event will feature Thomas Laird, CEO of Expivia, which has successfully navigated the transition from the office to home environments. Laird will talk about his experiences in leading the effort, and share best practices that worked for Expivia and allowed its agents to adapt to their new conditions successfully.
Many believe that, even when the pandemic subsides, we’re in for a long transition back to full in-office workforces, and more than a handful of large businesses have already said they are considering permanently implementing teleworking strategies. Some see it as a way to expand hiring geographically, while others are looking to offer more flexibility to workers and may have agents working from home in rotating shifts. Either way, the technology they are implementing today out of necessity can be a long-term investment in success – as long as it’s done well.
Register for this webinar to hear home Expivia did it, and how, too, can become a top-tier teleworking customer service team.
Edited by Erik Linask