The COVID-19 pandemic strongly accelerated the remote working trend. To operate the switch, offering intuitive and efficient digital tools for the contact centers workforce is crucial. Finding new ways to engage, train and manage agents is key: a staggering 74% of call center agents are at risk of burnout (Toister Solutions).
An increasing number of employees seek alternative ways to do their job: 74% of the US workforce would be willing to quit a position for one that offers remote work (Zapier.com). The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated this existing trend: while the crisis was raging, a survey by Gartner revealed that 41% of employees expected to be more likely to work remotely at least some of the time after the pandemic, while a survey by Global Workplace Analytics showed that 77% of the workforce wanted to work from home (“WFH”) after it. Remote working offers many benefits to contact centers, as, beyond answering the aspirations of some of their employees for more flexibility, it also allows them to access new skills and competencies by recruiting agents that are not within the area of the physical contact center office. To ensure business continuity, agents must be supported anytime, anywhere. For this, contact center managers need to ensure a swift switch to the remote working model over the long term to continue to deliver a world-class customer experience.
For a successful and quick transition to a remote work setting, technology is, as always, the answer. Cloud technology is critical to provide access to the same tools and data in real time from multiple contact centers, including at home agents, while answering the challenges of quick deployment, security and scalability. Agents need technologies that help them be productive while working from home. According to a Toister Solutions research, one of the top five challenges plaguing call center agent performance is how much of agents’ time gets sucked up by low-value work and the lack of context agents have about their customers. To support remote agents, it is critical to deploy an intuitive and easy-to-use Cloud contact center platform requiring minimal training to be autonomous and efficient. Offering a solution which integrates seamlessly with the company’s CRM application, and offers instant access to both customer data and history of the customer journey across all channels, will enable agents remain performant from any location. Additionally, integrating AI solutions such as chatbots or virtual assistants can assist agents by absorbing extra volumes of calls or managing low-value enquiries and let them focus on the more complex conversations. Having access to the best technology increases the feeling amongst agents that they can focus on what matters, add value, rather than waste time finding customer data in complex systems or fill endless questionnaires after each client interaction.
The pre-requisite for a successful switch to the 2.0 call center is that HR methods adapt too. This first implies looking at new types of ergonomics such connectivity infrastructure, especially a good Wi-Fi at home, adequate PCs, and good collaborative digital tools.Providing intuitive contact center solutions will accelerate training and adoption by distant agents. HR will also have to use digital training tools and monitor agents remotely. It is key that supervisors can have remote access to real-time supervision dashboards to manage agents, workflows and performances, while leveraging quality monitoring functionalities to support and grow their agents’ competencies.As agents who don’t have daily visibility into their metrics sit at an increased risk for burnout (Toister study), offering them custom reports and dashboards to self-monitor their KPIs is mission-critical to their well-being – and to the service delivered by the contact center.By creating a different type of work culture that fosters efficiency and innovation, businesses will enhance agent satisfaction and retention: engaged and satisfied employees are 8.5 times more likely to stay than leave within a year, according to McKinsey & Co. As brand ambassadors, happy and empowered agent will make a real impact on the bottom line: happy employees are 31% more productive (Harvard/MIT study), while 90% of consumers are likely to stay loyal after a positive call center experience (2020 CallMiner Churn Index).
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