Seven tips to successfully manage your off-site contact centre
Remote working is not a brand new concept, but many of our clients are navigating these waters for the first time, as agents begin moving off site and working from home.
As an expert in cloud-based contact centre technology, 1Stream has more than 14 years of experience in helping its clients harness the power of cloud-based solutions for their business, and the company wanted to share its top seven tips on moving your call centre out of the office.
The idea of shifting your business to a ‘working from home’ scenario may seem overwhelming and potentially risky. Contact centre managers may be wondering: How can I effectively manage my team from afar? How do I know what agents are doing if I can’t see them? How do I make sure agents are meeting their targets?
Having already worked closely with clients in implementing their remote working capabilities, 1Stream has identified several simple yet effective ways in maintaining high levels of productivity and quality, and boosting team morale.
Set clear expectations and goals: Setting out specific working hours and methods of communication will mean all team members know when they are expected to be available. In addition, SLAs – an integral part of any contact centre – become invaluable so that team members know what deliverables are expected. When it comes to SLAs, though, setting goals rather than activities can have a more beneficial outcome for remote working teams, giving agents a clear view of the organisational strategy and allowing flexibility while ensuring the goals are achieved.
Stay in touch: We all know that communication is key to effective team management, but when it comes to remote working, it is arguably even more so. Communication in this context is about both ensuring productivity and quality are maintained, as well as keeping teams feeling connected and motivated. Using the tools available – calls, chat, video conferencing – find what works best for your teams to keep all agents informed of important information, monitor progress and SLAs and create a sense of camaraderie.
Offer support: Not being in a shared office space means it’s not as simple to raise a hand and ask for assistance. Clearly outlining the steps for getting the necessary help when it’s needed will offer essential support to agents while also ensuring customers receive the answers they need efficiently. 1Stream’s built-in Help functionality enables agents to easily request help from another available agent or team leader who can then assist.
Take your training online: Regular training sessions are a common feature in contact centres, and just because agents are working from various locations, it doesn’t mean this needs to change. Make sure your materials are up to date and make use of platforms like Zoom to host interactive sessions with agents.
Motivate agents with QA: Not only does listening in on agents’ customer interactions give managers the chance to monitor the quality of help being provided to customers, but it can also offer insight into what training might be required as well as an opportunity to reward a job well done. Consider your QA processes a tool for ensuring productivity and quality as well as a motivational tool and a chance for positive interaction with your team. Workforce management tools also offer an easy way to stay on top of agent activities, issues needing attention and goals achieved.
Give your team the right tools: One of the challenges noted by our customers is that agents aren’t able to be as productive at home because their set-up doesn’t allow for it, which can be frustrating. For example, in the office, many agents work off multiple screens, while at home they are limited to one. Wherever possible, give your agents the best chance of being productive, which benefits the organisation while also positively influencing the agent’s motivation. This might mean ensuring agents have correctly specced computers and quality headsets, or perhaps it will require considering new tools such as a Raspberry Pi to provide the necessary capabilities.
Constantly reassess with reports: 1Stream’s comprehensive suite of reports means team leaders, managers and CEOs are able to access regular, easy-to-read overviews on activities and results. This is so important since it allows businesses to monitor progress and address any areas needing attention quickly to immediately positively impact operations and customer service. Of course, this comes back to then communicating with the team, sharing this information and making sure all team members are on board with the goals that are updated and clearly outlined.
With all that being said, ensuring your contact centre remains successful while agents make the shift to working from home requires the adoption of a new mindset. While managing the clear challenges posed by remote working, we need to be able to see – and harness – the benefits that this new way of working offers.
Benefits of remote working
The increased flexibility that working from home offers is an immediate advantage, and cutting out travel time means more time in the day for staff and working hours that can be adhered to more accurately.
Shift work also becomes easier to implement and manage, and what’s more, remote working opens up the possibility for part-time work and split shifts, which can benefit both the agents and the business.
To learn more about how 1Stream can help your business and contact centre operate effectively, visit www.1stream.co.za.