Remote customer service is the new normal. Some of the biggest heavy-hitters in the retail world—including Macy’s, Gap, REI, Patagonia, Bed Bath & Beyond, and dozens of independent companies—have closed their brick and mortar shops and mandated that their corporate employees work from home. We are also in the midst of an economic downturn where shoppers have more time and less disposable income, and traditional shipping methods may be delayed or less reliable.
As a result, customer service and digital communication channels play a critical role in this constrained retail environment. Consumers may be more particular about the products they purchase and the service they receive and won’t hesitate to reach out to ask questions about your business’s sanitization process, product availability, and shipping/delivery details.
While customer queries will continue to be made via phone as well as through digital channels from the comfort of their homes, the customer service reps on the other end no longer need to be constrained to an office environment themselves. In fact, activating a work-from-home support team with shopper engagement capabilities will enable you to leverage your existing contact center agents and enable you to re-deploy in-store staff to the customer service frontlines—whether they are homebound or working in a store’s back room. Talk about scalability! Here’s what you need to know about building and scaling work-from-home agent teams to meet changed work environments and increased shopper engagement demands.
What do customers want most from retailers? Almost 80% of American consumers say that “speed, convenience, knowledgeable help, and friendly service” are the most important elements of a positive customer experience. But your remote customer service team won’t be able to provide this if they don’t have access to cross-channel customer data, including each customer’s purchase and returns history, and records of any past correspondence they’ve had with your team.
It’s an omnichannel world, and customers will reach out for service on any channel you make available—including phone, SMS messaging, email, and social media. Part of the challenge of providing customer service in a work-from-home environment is the need to equip your remote agent team with the right hardware and software to track and respond to customer service issues as they arise.
Cloud computing to the rescue—it’s one component of how to build a distributed support team. Whether through a virtualized environment or direct access, your shopper engagement team will need to access vital customer, product, and inventory information from established systems. But that’s not all. In order to provide the seamless experience shoppers expect—as agents work from home—you also need a cloud-based contact center and communication platform that can integrate seamlessly with your backend systems.
A cloud-based contact center and communication platform can intelligently handle call queues, route calls to the best resource, and help your remote agent team share information internally in real time from anywhere, so less experienced employees can draw on the knowledge of seasoned staff members. A collaborative contact center solution that offers the tools and capabilities you need to build a powerful distributed support team and also integrates with the rest of the company can give agents access to subject matter experts as well as departments outside the contact center.
The question is, how do you scale your existing digital contact center remotely, without the benefit of hands-on training? Video conferencing software can provide the medium for live training initiatives to quickly get new employees up-to-speed. Call-routing software can help you provide fast and knowledgeable help remotely by sending customer phone calls to the employees best-suited to answer their questions. A task management platform can help you create work orders, assign tasks, and request confirmation that tasks have been completed from your remote employees.
But the most effective remote work platforms don’t try to juggle all of these moving parts independently. The ease of using your remote contact centers will ultimately be determined by how easily your customer service reps can communicate with customers—and one another—across platforms.
RingCentral combines communications—voice, video, and team messaging—into one seamlessly integrated platform that also includes contact center. that works across multiple devices. Customer service agents can access RingCentral’s cloud-based app from anywhere and on any device—so they can work together to meet customers’ evolving needs.
If you’re considering transforming your contact center into a remote team, learn more about RingCentral Contact Center to see how RingCentral can keep your business running in any situation, and connect with us for a personalized demo today.