In a recent LiveVox webinar, we discussed the state of remote work in the contact center. According to LiveVox survey data, 3 in 10 contact center leaders are preparing for a return to the office. As they transition, managers are wondering what their agent’s newfound habits mean for the future of work and how the teams who have grown accustomed to greater flexibility will adjust.
It’s obvious that work from home has gone mainstream. No longer is it an option available only to freelancers and travel bloggers. The coronavirus pandemic forced the majority of organizations out of the office and into an entirely new working environment. Without a business continuity plan that took into account the possibility of not being able to utilize their physical office space many organizations were blindsided. Eighteen months later, those same organizations have realized successes and even gained some very important workforce advantages.
Below we consider how the changes to our working lives will carry over into the post-pandemic world, and the positive impact they’ve had on the contact center.
The importance of planning
Business continuity plans keep your organization productive and running as smoothly as possible in the face of disasters or unpredictable circumstances. Ideally, these plans minimize the impact on your bottom line as well as the amount of downtime.
Many contact center leaders were caught off guard by having to juggle inbound call volume increases, how to scale quality monitoring and coaching, and security concerns in a new remote setting. These changes accelerated the pace of digitization in the contact center and in many cases introduced new habits to customers. An increase in call volumes has translated to greater reliance on self-reliance, and a lack of in-office interaction has encouraged teams to be more proactive and precise about training.
As with compulsively washing our hands and ordering grocery delivery instead of shuffling through crowded stores, many of these habits are here to stay. What does that mean for the next phase of customer service in the contact center?
Benefits in the face of uncertainty
The benefits of working from home began to show themselves as the pandemic raged on. Many organizations found over the past year that agents working from home offered them a competitive advantage.
- Organizations that offered work from home saw agent attrition rate drop by 50%
- 80% of organizations that offered world from home found that agents felt more loyalty if they offered a work from home option
- Contact centers can save an average of $11,000 per half-time remote agent each year.
The next era
Your contact center is looking to the post-Covid future and seeing a model that combines remote work and office time. Remote work was always on the horizon. Covid-19 only hastened its onset.
LiveVox surveyed over 300 decision-makers in the financial service space. In it, we explored how contact centers responded to the coronavirus pandemic, what safeguards they had in place prior, and what a successful post-Covid contact center looks like.
So, how do you optimize your budding work from home/hybrid contact center?
3 post-Covid contact center cornerstones
Wide digital channel use
Web-based communication is a core component to connecting distributed teams. During the coronavirus pandemic, the use of digital channels saw a 10% increase in use. Contact centers that were not using digital channels rapidly learned they needed to adopt them.
An omnichannel solution enables agents to connect interactions with customers across channels. A solid contact center business continuity plan incorporates as many ways to reach customers as possible. The post covid world will not be as forgiving to organizations that fail to quickly adopt new communication channels.
Quality management and coaching
To successfully work from home, agents need clear instruction. A difficult aspect of working from home is distractions. Your agents have pets, spouses, children, and televisions. Clear limits and instructions need to be relayed to your agents to create a defined environment. Internal communication is essential in a successful long-term work from home plan.
You need to consider how agents that work from home can be monitored and coached. One beneficial aspect of in-office contact centers is the ability of center managers to be able to walk around and monitor agents. In-office contact centers also enable the center managers to establish a working relationship with agents more easily. In a post covid world your management team needs to look at more data, have more touchpoints, and connect with agents more often.
Secure cloud connection
Continued work from home or hybrid model necessitates your contact center to be cloud-based. Agents can easily access the data necessary to excel at their job from anywhere. The cloud provides more security for organizations that have agents remoting in.
When agents’ desktops are cloud-based data can be shared between agents regardless of location. This promotes collaborations across your organization in a powerful way.
The cloud is pivotal in a work-from-home approach to the contact center. Wherever you choose to base your contact center, a sound business continuity plan incorporates the cloud.
Remote work and/or a hybrid model is likely to stick around. Agents have settled into a rhythm and organizations are keen to explore new technologies that enable them to adapt to any unseen disaster. Your post covid contact center embraces unconventional work environments and provides tools to navigate interesting waters.