Remote working is now a mandatory part of any business continuity plan. Around the world, our personal lives and businesses are impacted, school pupils are doing their lessons online at home and the majority of working employees must do so from home. There are plenty of great tips on managing remote employees, but when it comes to contact centre agents working from home – especially for emergency services personnel connecting anxious or frustrated customers when stress levels are high – your agents will need your support now more than ever.
In unfamiliar circumstances, it’s important to follow the guidelines and clear communication of your company’s policies and procedures. Figuring out how to keep your agents on the same page and stay motivated while remaining in control of what is happening can be a lot to handle.
Use analytics and reporting to empower agents
Using real-time monitoring can give you the instant feedback you need to be fully responsive to any unforeseen problems that can pop up. Use immediate reporting via dashboards to let you see your agents’ performance, so you can reach out to them if needed. A unified user-friendly interface with real-time dashboards should display full information across agents’ roles, for a fully holistic view.
While overseeing agents on the phone, functions like call whisper or call barge can allow a supervisor to provide support as a call progresses. This kind of immediate responsiveness can save potentially lost customers before that actually happens.
As an operational leader, it’s important to make sure your team gets access to the same tools and experience, regardless of where they might be working from. Using a web-based platform can offer that mobility.
To track the quality of your customer interactions, use call logs, reports, and call and screen recording for a detailed picture of your contact centre’s performance. These tools are also useful for effectively monitoring, evaluating and coaching agents. Conducting analysis and evaluation across all interaction channels allows you as a manager to gain a holistic view of the customer experience.
What about scheduling and quality management?
Agent scheduling requires a lot of coordination. You need to have the tools to change schedules at short notice as well as forecast and provision peak call times, factor breaks, and plan for the unexpected. Workforce Management (WFM) allows you to forecast, schedule, monitor and report your contact centre activities.
If your key staff is unwell, a flexible scheduling function allows agents to change their schedules and swap shifts with other agents when necessary. Schedules may change quickly if your colleagues or their family members fall ill, so giving agents real-time visibility into their schedules, and notifying them of any changes, can help them respond quickly and keep your availability high.
Using workforce optimisation software gives you the opportunity to automatically match tasks with agents who have the most appropriate skill-set. A useful feature within WFM is the ability to model the impact of COVID-19 on your contact volumes, which enables you to schedule the correct numbers of frontline staff as needed in preparation.
WFM also allows you to immediately identify and address agent behaviour by providing timely feedback. In managing agent performance, it’s important to set personal targets, benchmarks and achievements for each agent to deliver positive customer experiences. Under ‘business not as usual’ circumstances, it’s challenging for everyone. But we can continue to support our community, employees and organisations to serve customers in times of need and help to be more efficient in the longer term.
I’ll leave you with some highlights:
- Ensure clear communication between managers, supervisors and agents.
- Agents should follow through interaction engagement and maintain compliance and security.
- Use an easy-to-use software to schedule and adjust breaks throughout the day to give agents time to care for their families when everyone is at home.
- Agents should proactively let their supervisor know if any issues arise that require changing the schedule.
- Cross-train your employees so they have the skills to step in and fill the gap if needed. Coaching and feedback are critical to agent engagement and morale, especially more so when they are at home; they need encouragement.
- It’s important to create a sense of team connection across a widely dispersed group of agents.
- Be available to answer any questions as and when your agents require and be sure to recognise a job well done!
- A cloud-based customer engagement platform is ideal to support remote working in the event of working from home.
When your customers need you to be there for them, do you respond quickly and deliver the CX your customers expect? Use these tools and techniques to help you support your agents and customers and build long-term brand loyalty through this difficult period.
Originally published Apr 08, 2020, updated Jan 16, 2023