It’s fair to say that, in many cases, remote working was an unwelcome imposition on contact centres in early 2020. That said, many have since embraced the model because of the cost saving and employee wellbeing benefits it offers.
If you initially viewed remote working as a temporary measure, but are now considering it a viable medium/long term possibility, you’re not alone. A third of businesses that switched to remote work in 2020 expect to retain some degree of remote working after the pandemic ends.
If this is where you’re headed, you’ll need to commit to building a strong remote setup that empowers your agents to work at their best, wherever they are. Here’s how you can lay the foundations for a positive, effective and engaged remote contact centre for the long term.
Get the Basics Right
First things first, remote working won’t work if your agents don’t have the tools to do their jobs effectively from home.
According to a study by UK comparison website Finder, whilst employee reaction to working from home has been broadly positive, 62% of remote workers felt their employer needed to provide technology that would keep them better connected.
For remote or hybrid teams to be successful, your agents need to be self-motivated, resourceful and comfortable working with key contact centre systems at home. Part of this is their responsibility - but it becomes so much easier to self motivate if your employer provides you with the right tools and support to do your job efficiently.
To create a successful remote setup, you need to:
- Provide agents with the hardware they need to do their job (laptops, monitors, headsets). Don’t assume agents will be able to use their own devices.
- Ensure agents have a reasonable physical space to work in, with desk space, reliable WiFi and limited background noise.
- Configure key systems, for example telephony, email and call monitoring, for remote access. If you’re committed to remote working for the long-term, cloud-based software will make this significantly easier than remaining with legacy on-premise systems.
These are the foundations of an efficient remote working environment. If you don’t dedicate time to getting these right, your remote teams won’t be able to work efficiently and customer experience will suffer as a result.
Set Up Strong Communications Channels
Avoid relying on email for day-to-day communications - it’s slow, cumbersome and a time drain for busy agents.
Switching to instant communication channels like Skype, Slack or Microsoft Teams offers a more flexible experience for your agents, so they feel like interactions are quicker and more conversational. As well as improving efficiency, this builds team spirit and helps remote agents feel included.
To maximise engagement with these channels, use them to virtualise your recognition and rewards processes, so you can congratulate agents on good performance and motivate your agents to keep achieving.
Support Your Managers to Support Your Agents
As well as supporting remote agents, it’s essential that you open up channels in which team leaders and evaluators can come together to discuss performance. This could be a daily standup or huddle over video chat, or perhaps a private Slack channel.
If managers don’t have the time and resources to support their teams, remote working will cause productivity to dip. Regular calibration discussions, plus easy access to QA data, helps team leaders keep on top of where their team is at, and what they need to do to improve.
Commit to One-on-Ones With Remote Agents
In remote working environments it’s tempting to cut one-on-one time with agents in order to ease short-term time pressures, particularly during busy periods.
Avoid the temptation to do this. Whilst you’ll see short-term productivity gains, you’ll lose much more in CX and employee engagement in the long term. One-on-ones serve an essential purpose in contact centres - in remote ones arguably more so. This is because:
- It’s an opportunity for agents to connect with their managers, and by extension the company as a whole. Keeping in touch with remote agents, highlighting their successes and providing useful feedback is essential for employee engagement, and helps remote agents feel involved and less lonely.
- Feedback and coaching are essential improvement tools for your contact centre as a whole. Being unable to address problem behaviours in the short term allows them to become more embedded and difficult to remove.
If your QA software isn’t configured for working remotely, it might be time to think about upgrading.
EvaluAgent is a cloud-based, all-in-one QA system that empowers your teams to deliver a great CX with real-time feedback, actionable insight and robust performance management workflows - whether your agents are working onsite or remote.