Mat Cornish, EU director enterprise cloud, Avaya, discusses the technologies that can empower remote contact centre agents to deliver excellent customer service.
Covid-19 has accelerated the existing shift in attitudes to work to such a degree that a recent Nemertes study found that, across key verticals like retail (68%) and healthcare (70%), employers are now planning to allow their employees to continue to work from home after the pandemic.
There are very good reasons to offer a remote working option in your contact centre: it broadens access to a wider and more diverse talent pool, helping to attract harder-to-find skill sets, and it also accommodates gig agents. These might be a parent who prefers shifts that fit around childcare, or Gen Z and millennial workers — the future workforce and consumers — who prefer flexibility in working environment and identity. Remote working not only benefits recruitment but could help prevent agent burnout and managing peak periods and seasonal needs.
Although the processes, staff control and management for remote and gig agent models may differ, the quality of service and productivity achieved by these agents can rival those of traditional contact centres. It is only by moving beyond the conventional thinking about work patterns and embracing the value of virtual capacity that the widespread adoption and benefits of the remote and gig agent models can be achieved.
Work remotely without compromising results
A remote work environment shouldn’t be any less collaborative than a traditional contact centre. The first step is to design better connections for customers into the organisation so that they can connect effortlessly, with whoever, however and whenever they need to.
Secondly, the entire journey needs to be orchestrated to ensure employees are proactively and dynamically served (by virtual co-workers leveraging AI and knowledge management technologies) with all the information, apps and resources they need, irrespective of where the data is housed, or which system is managing the data. This information should also be personalised to the context of the interaction, which is crucial as human interactions still matter very much to the customer experience and in many cases, they happen through customer service agents who then become the face of the brand.
Virtual collaboration across entire enterprise
Thirdly, the future of work is all about collaboration because it’s critical that agents aren’t left alone to handle tricky interactions that need sorting immediately. Dealing with more complex, emotionally demanding interactions is one of the biggest challenges they face and when there are impatient customers waiting, they need people with the right knowledge and skills, irrespective of job title and department, to together to solve problems collectively. Agents not only need access to accurate information quickly, but also the ability to connect with the right subject matter expert fast and to collaborate with them in real-time, regardless of the application they’re using, and bring them into the customer interaction if necessary. These experts might be working remotely themselves, so the virtual collaboration must be enabled across the entire enterprise. Similarly, by infusing contact centre capabilities such as routing and workflow throughout the business, and making back office resources, insights and capabilities available to the contact centre, organisations can not only make a huge difference to customer experience but also to those serving them who are able to see their part in a team working towards a common goal.
No longer confined by four walls
In a remote work environment, supervisors can still conduct virtual walk-abouts, tracking things like what applications agents are using, how they use them, when and for how long, to help identify training gaps, process breakdowns and compliancy. Gamification can help better communicate goals, acknowledge achievements and motivate teams, even if those teams are physically dispersed. In addition, workforce engagement available via mobile devices provides virtual employees with anytime, anywhere access to important schedule information, and capabilities for requesting schedule changes or bidding for shifts.
Technologies like these mean more companies can support remote agents, providing them with the right solutions that will allow them to do their jobs and keep customers fully satisfied.