Free Range Agents: Preparing for the Contact Centre of the Future with a Remote Workforce

We’ve been saying for a long time that the role of the contact centre agent is changing. Now, with the crisis that all businesses have had to endure this year with COVID-19, some of these changes have been accelerated at a much faster pace. Namely, moving the contact centre to homeworking.

It’s been thought by many for a long time that being a contact centre agent means working 9-5 in an office environment. However, this is simply not true, the time has come to actively enable your agents to be free-range and garner the many benefits that come with this.

New Beginnings?

We are no longer confined by the technology available to us. There’s so much out there to not only facilitate contact centre homeworking (like various cloud contact centres for example), but to actively monitor and motivate agents.

COVID-19 has forced many businesses to implement working from home policies for their agents. Some of our customers included. Markerstudy for example enabled 3,000 staff (1,400 of which are in customer facing roles taking inbound calls from brokers, customers and partners) to work from home in just two days! The technology and business continuity planning were already in place which put them ahead of the game in their deployment strategy.  

There was no impact on customer services during the transition and we are still able to track the agent’s performance as normal. For example, we still see log on/log off times, call duration and all other KPIs giving us complete visibility so we can continue to deliver a seamless customer service.

– Adam Miller, Group Head of IT, Markerstudy

Source https://www.cirmagazine.com/cir/202004293.php

Companies with a contact centre managed as a hosted solution in a secure cloud are now able to move contact centre agents from the office to homeworking with ease if they need to, or desire to do so. However, some have considered never going back to the office, contact centre agents included.

Remote Agent Benefits

Understandably contact managers will have their concerns about working from home. At least 4% of the UK population are employed in contact centres, so the right strategy is not only vital for businesses thriving but the economy too! Increasingly, the decision to allow contact centre agents to work from home is becoming less about employee perks and more about business strategy. Ultimately, the potential benefits are greater than the risk of not moving to a remote contact centre.

workforce management webinar 29 july 2020 blog cta

With Flexibility Comes Productivity

72% of agents are happy working remotely with flexible hours (Calabrio), happiness is vital to productivity. Sceptics may think that working from home would cause distractions, but it gives contact centre agents more freedom to focus.

They can work the hours that suit them. If you are a morning person, you’re more likely to get most of your hours completed productively if you work from 07:00 – 15:30 for example.

A better work-life balance is achieved through home working with the morning commute ditched for spending more time with the kids or heading out to the gym before you start work. Ultimately, contact centre managers can work together with agents on a pattern that is best for them.

Operational Cost Savings

Running a physical office is expensive. What cost-difference would it make to your business if you didn’t have to pay for bricks and mortar?

This is a question many have asked themselves certainly after COVID-19 (and some maybe even before the crisis!). The fact is it is an unnecessary cost. Some have already stated that they will not be renewing leases when they run out, opting to move the entire workforce to an at home setup permanently.

Access a Wider Talent Pool

With a remote contact centre, you’ll abolish the geographical restrictions associated with having an office. Access a much wider pool of talent. You’ll be able to build a team of people that have the best skillsets for the job, helping your company to thrive.

Empowering you to become more selective when choosing your candidates and drive down other factors like employee turnover.

Recruit the Next Generation

For a long time, it’s been common knowledge that millennials and the generations after them expect the option to work from home. Since millennials make up a large percentage of those that work in the contact centre, it would be restrictive to not offer homeworking in this department. These generations value work-life balance above all else.

Increased Contact Centre Agility

Remote working dramatically increases agility. It means that during a crisis (take COVID-19 for example!) your customer service can continue uninterrupted. You have the flexibility to employ people from across different time zones if needed to always ensure there is an agent available at all hours of the day (follow the sun, as they call it). Or when you might need more freelance or temporary workers during the launch of a promotion or a particularly busy seasonal period, remote working makes it possible to quickly employ and utilise them as a resource.

Addressing Pain Points

Of course, as with any new way of working there are pain points. For contact centre managers, the key questions you might ask are:

  • How can I manage agent productivity?
  • How do I ensure team connection and collaboration?
  • Where can I gain more operational and managerial insights?
Value-Adding Technology

Addressing these pain points isn’t easy but there are solutions that can really help! A dashboard that gives you a 360 view of contact centre data for example, would enable you to feedback across the organisation and update on KPIs. Or maybe introducing gamification and team goals to reduce feelings of isolation that some employees might feel whilst working from home and to keep them on target.

If Not Now, When?

If it’s one thing that COVID-19 has taught us, it is that many of us can work from home effectively. The contact centre included!

With the financial constraints that are no doubt going to restrict many businesses for years to come you can’t afford not to introduce remote agents on a more permanent basis. Both in the interest of holding on to needed talent and keeping costs down.

The new normal will see many more turning to remote agents. Why not come along to our webinar on the 29 July to discover how you can motivate, manage, and monitor them? Sign up here.

workforce management webinar 29 july 2020 blog cta

Daisy Shevlin

Marketing Content Executive, Britannic Technologies

Daisy has worked for technology companies since graduating university in 2017. Currently the Content Marketing Executive at Britannic, she helps businesses cut through the digital noise to understand concepts around Workplace Modernisation, Digital Transformation and key tech trends with content that is concise and to the point.

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