This year was an eye-opener for businesses across the globe. It literally forced everyone to design alternative strategies for business continuity as people were forced to stay at home.
This led to an overwhelming transformation of businesses moving from an Office-Based setup to a cloud-based platform to ensure their employees can work from anywhere (Specifically home). Contact centers were no different.
This year has seen a significant number of contact centers migrating to the cloud than ever before. The motivation for this transformation is obvious, and the stats indicate that very clearly. In April 2020, contact centers that were making use of home-workers increased to a significant 87% compared to 26% in late 2019.
As employees started working from their Living room or Dining Table instead of an office cubicle, it is not time for business leaders to take a moment and review the overall impact and outcome of this massive and accidental business continuity experiment.
Is work from home here to stay?
There are few businesses that had adopted the work-from-home culture much before the pandemic and lockdown forced us to work that way, however, the majority of contact center managers and business leaders still think that a physical office is a better option for contact center success.
Now, for the ones who now realized and accepted the model of work from home, it can bring an assortment of benefits to boost overall customer service delivery.
Benefits offered by WFH for Contact Centers
The first and possibly the most important concern raised by contact center managers to adopt this work from home culture was concerns around productivity and data security.
But with developments that happened in the technology space recently, it now offers better resilience and data security for contact center solutions that also means lesser distractions for agents working from home. The business has seen the following benefits of having its staff work from home:
1. Access to a bigger pool of talent
Since there is no dependency on a specific location, prospective employees are no longer required to be within a commutable distance of the office.
If your office uses cloud-based technology, employees can work and collaborate from anywhere. This means you can focus on hiring the best talent available to improve your customer service instead of worrying about their location and commuting concerns.
2. Overflow calls handled much better
With a comprehensive cloud-based contact center solution, the call center administrators can now create soother workflows to handle calls from multiple sites. This helps teams to manage their call volume while working from home without impacting productivity or customer satisfaction.
3. Increasing Customer satisfaction by ensuring 24/7 availability
A lot of outsourced contact centers already work 24/7, however, for small businesses this was still a challenge. Moving to a cloud-based tech allows contact centers to function seamlessly always 24/7 with staff availability.
Disadvantages of WFH for Contact Centers
With all the benefits listed above may seem that Work from Home is here to stay and is possibly the “New Normal”. But there is another side of the coin. It may not be the best option for many businesses including Contact Centers. Let’s look at a few reasons why work-from-home may not be the best option for contact centers:
1. Ineffective / Lacking communication within team members
Communication is probably one of the most important aspects of success in any business. Talking about working remotely and communicating, there are a lot of options including chat, phone, e-mails, text, video-calls, etc. All these channels do ease the communication gap between teams, but nothing beats the age-old “in-person” communication. When the team is in the same office space and works together, leaders can ensure that all business communication is relayed to all team members effectively. That may not be the case while working virtually.
2. Low reliability and retention of staff
It is true that working remotely from home, allows companies to look for talented pool beyond company commutable distance, but remote workers generally look at these jobs as a stop-gap arrangement and a pathway to something bigger. Team spirit is something that’s almost impossible to develop while working remotely, so these talented people feel no guilt or responsibility while leaving the job. Contact centers cannot afford heavy attrition as they spend a lot of time and money training their staff. Hence, work from home may not be the best way to increase reliability or retention in staff.
3. Loss of Productivity
With staff working from home, there can be several issues including unreliable internet connection, background noise, etc. Plus, you have little to no oversight of what an employee is doing during the day or how distracted they are even when they are working. This eventually results in a loss of productivity. For contact centers, this is an even bigger problem. They cannot afford their staff to be distracted while working as they are handling customer calls. Their distraction directly impacts customer experience and a deteriorated experience results in loss of business.
To sum it up, there are many factors to consider while choosing what works best for you.