Even before COVID-19 made it a necessity, having your Contact Centre work remotely made a lot of sense. After all, can’t we take phone calls from basically anywhere at any time?
To be clear, there are some inherent difficulties with having your Contact Centre agents work remotely. However, the remote work economy is still worth considering. After all, remote workers are happier workers because of how they benefit from working remotely. Many remote workers cite the flexible schedule, no daily commute, and uncomfortable work attire is a huge selling point.
Management benefits from having Contact Centre agents work remotely too. Specifically, there’s a much larger pool of candidates to draw from when you’re not limited by location. In other words, you can hire based solely on skill and experience. And let’s not forget the lower operational costs.
So how do you make a remote workforce work for a contact center? Well, let’s start by looking at some of the critical concerns that you’ll need to address.
Top Concerns With Contact Centre Agents Working Remotely
Of course, working remotely isn’t without some disadvantages. In particular, there are several concerns that most Contact Centre managers will have when transitioning from a physical to a remote Contact Centre.
Those concerns can be broken into three broad categories: productivity, community, and security.
- How do you know how much work your agents are getting done?
- Is there a way to monitor their efficiency?
- Will agents working remotely feel isolated?
- How do you foster a sense of community between Contact Centre representatives who are working remotely?
- What if your agents use public internet connections to work remotely? Would that put your company at risk?
- How can you ensure security when there are so many variables — e.g., location, network, device — that are difficult to control?
How to Manage Contact Centre Agents Working Remotely
Using a combination of software tools and best practices, you can make working remotely work for your Contact Centre. We’ve compiled tips, tools, and strategies to maximize productivity, create a sense of community, maintain a quality customer experience, and even make work more fun for your remote agents.
Make Check-Ins, Logs, and Reports a Daily Requirement
When you’re not able to monitor their performance or progress, how do you know each team member is on-task and following company guidelines?
How do you ensure optimal levels of productivity?
With regular check-ins, you can achieve much the same effect as stopping by each team member’s cubicle throughout the day. In turn, your remote team members can share highlights, report on their metrics and quotas, and keep you involved.
These check-ins can be done as a group or individually, either by group video chat, a conference call, or using a team messaging tool. For larger teams, group check-ins tend to be better since you probably won’t have the time for individual meetings with every team member. But if you can have check-ins individually, then you can get more detail. And between check-ins, your team members should be logging their progress to submit in daily or weekly reports, depending on what you prefer.
There are a number of tools you could use for this, but Slack is a favorite for a good reason. It gives you text communication, voice communication, and video communication, all in a single app. Plus, Slack can pull double-duty, as you’ll see in a moment.
Use a Quality Assurance Tool
Since you run a contact center, there’s a good chance that you already use some sort of quality assurance tool or strategy. For instance, maybe you use a cloud-based software tool — like Talkdesk or MaestroQA — that collects customer feedback after each call. And if you don’t, then now is the time to start.
With a quality assurance tool, you’ll have more insight into your team members’ job performance. This will give you another layer in addition to the data you get from mandatory check-ins and reports. Between the two, you should get an accurate picture of how your agents are performing as they work from home.
Foster a Sense of Community
There’s a good chance that your remote employees will feel somewhat isolated, especially if they’re transitioning from a communal office space. So it’s a good idea to try to foster as much community between them as possible.
The best way to do this is by making it easy for your remote agents to communicate with each other. This is another area where Slack becomes extremely useful. Many companies with a remote workforce add designated channels in Slack for their team members to chat about non-work-related things. Slack itself even encourages this with others saying that it makes for happier employees and a better company culture.
Another thing mentioned above was video chat, which can get your remote team members socializing face-to-face. Social media is another alternative.
Make the Work Fun
In some ways, burnout and low morale are bigger concerns when your team works remotely than when they work together in an office setting. Think of it like this: When you live and work in the same place, you inevitably spend a lot of time in the same place, surrounded by the same walls, seeing the same sights, smelling the same smells.
Then combined with the inherent responsibilities of working at a Contact Centre and the fact that each team member is completely isolated, you want to make a conscious effort to boost morale. And the best way is to try to inject some fun into the situation.
Gamification is when you make a task that’s not conventionally fun, more game-like. For example, you could introduce a points system for closing a sale, getting a minimum score in customer feedback, or any number of other achievements. You can even incentivize their participation with prizes like gift cards or being able to end a shift a little early while still earning the full day’s pay.
Make Your Remote Contact Centre a Success With ContactPoint 360
The prospect of your Contact Centre agents working remotely can be daunting. However, there are a number of tools and tricks to maximize their consistency, productivity, and even morale. ContactPoint 360 can help too.
At ContactPoint 360, we offer solutions to strengthen your remote workforce, many of which are based on business process outsourcing.
Whether you’re sending your overflow to our own Contact Centres or taking advantage of anyone of our wide variety of services, your team will be better able to deliver an optimal customer experience each and every time.