In our last post we talked about the key strategies to setting up work from home for call centers due to Coronavirus. In this installment we will talk about the future of the call centers. A lot of the country is still on lockdown, but some of the governors have loosened the lockdown restrictions. Even though the restrictions have been loosened it is clear that remote work is here to stay.
Since the beginning of quarantine, the world’s largest companies have been making work from home a major part of their organization strategies. For a lot of companies, it means no overhead costs, meaning no workers comp insurance or rent on massive buildings. It isn’t just businesses that are requiring or allowing their employees to work from home it is also U.S. federal agencies.
With all of that being said call center jobs are also changing. It has been reported that some remote call centers have started to utilize people with disabilities. Which has been creating new opportunities for a historically under-represented population. People seeking full-time and part-time positions – and equipped with the tools to work from home with a flexible schedule – are finding new opportunities.
The final take away from the work from home force is that organizations need to become more adaptable. Not only to better support remote agents, but to align their methods of customer support into ongoing shifts in communication.
Most organizations that start to rethink their technology strategy get further along than those that don’t. A call center’s reliance on older, on-premise software systems – often requiring on-site staff to physically rack servers in a corporate data center in order to support new demand. That has been the main factor hindering a call center’s ability to provide exceptional customer care via remote workers.
Prior to the pandemic, call centers have been the last upholders of on-site technology. But that is changing, cloud-based call centers as a service was expected to be the preferred deployment model of organizations. Because of the pandemic that has been pushed up.
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In this first installment of call centers embracing the work at home orders we will tell you about three key strategies to setting up work from home for call center agents. We have spoken before on businesses making the change over from working in an office to working at home because of the Coronavirus, call centers are no exception. At the beginning of the pandemic when everyone was stocking up like it was doomsday, call center leaders were clamoring to transition customer service agents to remote.
Now almost 100 percent of call center customer service agents are working from home. At the same time, a lot of businesses have seen an irregular spike in demand for support services. The total contact center conversation volume has increased by about twenty percent from February to March. The companies impacted most are airlines and hotels, as they have been experiencing call growth of 96 percent and up.
The longevity of the pandemic has made the focus of these companies to invest in the right mix of people, process, and flexible cloud-based software to ensure business continuity – not for two or three more months of remote work, but for the foreseeable future.
To overcome the challenges with managing a remote workforce, while maintaining a high customer service experience for your customers, you need the right technology and policies in place to support your team.
Call center leaders need to account for mental health difficulties during today’s challenges. As the supervisor or manager, you should know that even agents who have never needed your help in the past may need it now. They won’t expect you to have all the answers but be empathetic and encourage them along this hard road.
While it may be frustrating to lose direct visibility into how your call center agents are spending their time in a work at home setting, it is ultimately topline metrics that speak to your performance. Most customer service reps are doing their best to not hinder their ability to serve customers. Instead of breathing down their digital necks, focus on the day-to-day customer support, like interaction and customer satisfaction.
Not only do you need a carefully designed work at home policy, but your call center agents need access to the tools they will need to do their job. It’s important that your call centers continue to embrace a cloud-based solution that will give them the flexibility they need to rapidly bring on new remote agents.
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