Work from home (WFH) for customer service agents is a concept that has rapidly gained traction over the past few years, enabling enterprises to partially address the ongoing contact center recruitment crisis. In the current climate, this model has emerged as a critical element of any call center business continuity plan and companies around the world seek to enable remote working as quickly and seamlessly as possible.
Recent events have caused widespread disruption to businesses in almost all industries, and contact centers have been among the hardest hit departments. With so many agents confined to their homes, companies need rapidly deployable WFH solutions that will cause minimal disruption to either contact center operations or customer experience.
This article presents a method of transforming a brick-and-mortar contact center into a virtual operation that enables employees to resolve issues from the safety of their own homes, without comprising on quality or customer satisfaction.
Shift your contact center to a WFH model: a seven-point plan
1. Select your software – one proven contact center technology that agents can use just as easily from home is Remote Visual Assistance. It enables reps to view customers’ issues via their smartphone cameras or with desktop sharing and use on-screen Augmented Reality instructions to guide them to resolutions. In time-critical scenarios, it’s essential to focus on several core considerations, including ease of integration with existing CRM systems, minimal training requirements and higher adoption rates. The chosen solution is also likely to include capabilities such as instant messaging and file sharing.
2. Review your workforce to mitigate risk – moving to a WFH model as part of your call center business continuity plan may demand structural reorganization and reallocation of human resources. Examine your personnel requirements and consider how the situation may require staff to assume additional responsibilities or to be trained to address new use cases.
3. Establish robust security protocols – security is a major issue when employees are forced to work remotely. In the contact center field, the problem is twofold, because the confidentiality of both the company and its customers must be safeguarded. Security policies must be clearly written and strictly adhered to, including methods of working, signed employment agreements and the deployment of identity and access management (IAM) solutions to ensure that the data of all parties is properly protected.
4. Create remote working policies – with contact center work from home, it is important to create a new set of standards, not only to ensure productivity and consistent customer experience, but also to maintain a sense of unity among employees. For example, forums and live chat software enable workers to offer each other emotional as well as professional support.
5. Schedule webinar learning sessions for agents – to ensure that everyone is on the same page, not only when it comes to using new software, but also in terms of how to engage with customers in difficult times, live webinars are indispensable. They can take the form of training sessions or townhalls in which staff are free to ask questions that have arisen during the change.
6. Be proactive – the work from model may impact operations and customer experience in unexpected ways. That’s why it’s essential to reach out to customers early and often to establish a strong line of communication and ensure that they understand the demands of the situation. If customers need to install any new digital products as a result of the change, schedule sessions early on to teach them how to get the best out of them. This is also an ideal opportunity to communicate to your customers the advantages of the new system – make sure to spell out the benefits, such as faster response times, and make it clear that the company is going the extra mile to deliver uninterrupted service.
7. Ensure necessary bandwidth – another crucial element of your call center business continuity plan is to communicate regularly with your network provider to ensure that agents who are working from home have the required bandwidth to deliver effective, uninterrupted support.
Creating and fine-tuning a robust call center business continuity plan will remain a core focus of leading enterprises for the foreseeable future and a major element of contingency preparedness is enabling contact center agents to work from home for extended periods. The key to successful BCP is the rapid adoption of remote support technologies such as Visual Assistance that are designed for maximum effectiveness wherever reps are located.
It’s also vital to deliver a clear message to contact center agents and customers alike that your company is on top of the situation and is taking all necessary steps to ensure uninterrupted service.