Companies across the globe are practicing social distancing and keeping employees remote so their office and contact center staff are safe. Consequently, this is likely to see firms joining the trend of more remote work for years to come.
The need for connectivity and benefits of using cloud-based tools ensures the process is productive for both the company and the employees.
How to overcome the challenges
For many businesses, contact centers operate exclusively through their software of choice, which is usually office-based. There are many challenges that companies face and one of the biggest is managing employees remotely, according to 57.1% of research participants.
Companies need solutions that don’t disrupt or degrade the quality of customer service, allowing teams to connect with employees and customers. Once you overcome these challenges, there are many benefits in the workday of each staff member.
When you start to create value for your employees, it permeates over to value for the customer. What is happening inside an organization is felt on the outside. In the world of customer support, employees love the idea of working remotely where there is flexibility.
1 – Use cloud-based customer engagement tools
On-premise technology for contact centers means agents have to travel to work, which may not be ideal when peak commute times need to be avoided, agent turnover needs to be reduced by keeping morale high, and performance has to be at the top level.
Cloud-based contact center technology supports the agent with immediate access to customer records regardless of where they are working. It also gives employees the opportunity to boost performance while increasing morale in the contact center workforce.
Investing in easy-to-use tools can help employees flourish in their work from the home environment just as they would at the office. This approach can prevent issues in obtaining customer data or trouble connecting with customers on your service, which will only frustrate both your agents and customers.
Contact Center managers should know this is especially important. Using the right tools that accommodate each person to work together is essential for a successful remote working strategy. Especially if it offers the possibility of adding extra seats for increased peaks and team growth when necessary.
2 – Keep control of activity remotely
Providing the right support for customers can be difficult, but not impossible. Cloud technology is a convenient way to support a remote workforce who might be struggling, especially considering the increase in contact volume over the past few weeks.
Ensuring multichannel contact is still being monitored in a remote work situation is a challenge. You have to make sure customers feel heard and the first-contact resolution is encouraged. Improving the customer experience as well as the agents’ is vital, and meeting these demands is not always easy.
Following a schedule can be testing for remote employees who do not have teammates around them. Yet, with a fully integrated cloud-based contact center solution, Supervisors can have a global and individual view of KPIs across all channels regardless of their team members’ location.
You can manage productivity remotely and it can create great value for the employee, hence the employee is more engaged, and they will appreciate the feedback. They can then go the extra step to engage with the customer.
Do not forget that KPIs (CSAT, average handling time, first contact resolution) are achievable remotely too. Set KPIs for employees to work towards, make them feel included within the wider team effort, and improve their personal objectives. Assess them on a routine basis with one-on-ones, follow-up training, and a set of transparent, mutually-agreed goals.
3 – Help agents to be more productive from home
You may fear that agent productivity will suffer if you are not able to communicate with them day-to-day, face-to-face. There is an anxiety that work-ethic drops, handling rate decreases, and trusting employees are hard when you cannot see their activity.
Keep teams involved, enabled, and culpable. Schedule check-ins and updates. Require “resolution experts” to check-in when they start their shift. Have your team update a daily report before their shift ends. These practices will adequately compensate for the in-person supervision your organization is used to, even if you are not in the same room.
In a recent survey, FlexJobs found that of the companies that allow remote work, 85% increased productivity, 90% improved employee morale, and 77% reduced operating costs. Trust the process and good things will come to fruition.
Other features that can speed up the process of replying to customers, is an Omni-digital channel management solution for contact centers where you can createtemplates, which give a structure of the message (email, for example, has the right header, signature, etc), so agents can focus on assisting customers and not on formatting.
It is also possible to integrate a replyassistant, utilizing pre-saved replies to common questions across all channels. This helps agents save time while sending accurate information to answer customers’ issues.
Chatbots on Facebook Messenger or another channel can help improve the customer care experience and reduce the workload on agents to deal with each customer question, or at least initially.
4 – Enable collaborative communications
Working from home may be a dream scenario for modern workers, but it does have a fair share of problems. Remote employees are likely to feel left out or isolated than their on-site peers, which can make it harder for teams to collaborate, maintain morale, and retain employees.
For customer service agents, they often need to ask information to internal experts (technical team, billing team for example) and this can be challenging when not in the same place at the same time.
To address these challenges, companies should encourage easy communication and collaboration. Tools connecting employees are essential for the success of your remote team.
Team messaging allows each employee to be on the same page across all devices. They can drag-and-drop files, pin important documents, and share directly from tools like Google Drive or Box. Team members can assign tasks, update stakeholders, and move projects forward with built-in task management.
This software can also integrate your calendar, enable meetings face-to-face over the video, and share your screen to collaborate live. This interlocks remote workers on a daily basis, making it easier to message them tasks through an all-in-one solution that combines direct and group messaging, video conferencing, and phone.
A solution that can allow customer service agents to reach out to colleagues with ease or reassign tasks to specialized team members will help them get the right information and answer customers faster.
5 – Use asynchronous digital channels for customer care
Customers anticipate contacting organizations on the digital channels they use, such as messaging, email, SMS, and many more. They expect to reach the right person to assist them with their query on the first contact. Unprecedented situations do not lessen expectations, if anything they create more demand for contact centers to handle.
Unlike synchronous calls via phone, digital channels function asynchronously. Indicating the transition from phone calls to digital interactions. But it necessitates developments in the contact center organization.
The company that can put everything into one program is going to win. I can look at your profile and see every channel you are on, every agent you have contacted, every product you bought, I can get the whole picture. Dealing with a customer on a messaging app or social channel, or I need to connect to you on another channel, I can do that from the same screen. So giving the agent the right tool that is convenient, streamlined, frictionless, is going to make a better impact on the customer but also makes the agent more comfortable.
These multiple channels can be consolidated into a single platform, with many benefits. From the dashboard, agents can manage more than one interaction at a time and can reduce waiting times for customers. In a remote working situation, unlike phone calls, it doesn’t require additional hardware and when you answer on digital channels, there is no interruption from background noise.
6 – Flexibility is a game-changer
Expanding cloud-based contact center solutions is easier than on-premise platforms. A remote, cloud contact center model can make a significant distinction for customer service in any industry, which is why 50% of call centers currently using on-premise solutions plan to transition to a cloud platform by the end of 2020.
The ability to work remotely allows scale-up when necessary. If you have staff that are remote employees or who are working part-time and all of a sudden you need them to work a little bit more, you can grow that support staff. Companies learned that remote working is a great option. They may have played with the idea before but when they are forced to do it all the time, it can be done.
Consider digital channels as the new primary way of business as a physical presence in stores subsides. 84% of consumers expect brands to find ways to maximize digital interactions to keep them safe. So adapting to the new-norm can be innovative and considerate.
By observing the realities of remote work, supervisors can help employees make a knowledgeable decision about working from home. Applying chat and video communication tools to the team setup, managers can build an inclusive culture. Employees will feel more connected to one another and collaborate regularly to improve business workflow.
Whether employees are in the office or not. It’s crucial that supervisors maintain employee output is consistent and meeting KPIs. Managing this remotely can remove the barrier of not being able to communicate and offer clarity to employees to be autonomous and manage their time effectively.
To learn how to pivot your hiring mindset, measure the performance of your team, contact us today to avail of our solutions and offers that can help effectively manage a remote customer care team.