Remote Working – 5 Steps to success with integrated Workforce Management

The COVID-19 pandemic has required many business leaders to reconsider how to make a success of remote working. With increased pressure from customers and unpredictable call volumes, managing and motivating key contact centre workers are especially challenging. Børge Astrup, CEO of Puzzel discusses how integrated Workforce Management (WFM) can help.

A confession – until recently, like many other business leaders, I viewed remote or homeworking with some scepticism. A number of unanswered questions bothered me. Would teams underperform? Would management structures struggle to maintain discipline? Will our company culture be adversely impacted?

Thankfully, over the past few weeks, I’ve learned the answer to all these questions is a resounding “No”. In fact, we’ve discussed that when it is properly implemented, remote working brings a number of advantages. We certainly don’t know all the answers, but my leadership team and I are rapidly learning how to make the most out of our cloud-based tools and how to use them to motivate, manage and influence behaviour remotely. Here are a few observations on this journey so far. Maintaining the highest possible level of customer service has never been so important. This is easy to say but very difficult to achieve – especially when so many companies are experiencing unpredictably high demands on their contact centres. But now, more than ever, companies have to communicate quickly and effectively with their customers because when COVID-19 is over customers will remember the brands that supported them most.

Operations that rely on legacy, on-premise solutions are perhaps least able to offer a homeworking option to their staff. The situation is, of course, exasperated if they lack true omni-channel communication capabilities as they cannot provide alternative methods for customers to get in touch. I’ve even heard of some companies having to resort to writing to customers asking them to only get in touch in an emergency. Here are more recommendations to make remote working a success.

Five steps to make remote working a success

1. Cloud-based platforms provide agility, simplicity and more efficient employees – the cloud allows people to work from anywhere using a simple internet connection plus a softphone or their own device. In an instant, contact centres can enhance their capacity to cope with increased demand. For example, Puzzel recently launched fast response call handling, voice routing and webchat solutions that can be up and running within 48 hours to support contact centres migrating to homeworking. In the first 24 hours, one UK nationwide organisation that implemented this system saw 70 agents handle over 2,000 calls.

2. Make the most of easy integration – the most efficient customer service platforms were born in the cloud. They enable contact centres to rapidly extend their capabilities through the addition of ticketing, email automation and workforce management (WFM) solutions. A robust cloud-based platform should be able to integrate with existing customer service technologies, so that with the right solution in place, companies can better forecast, schedule, manage and optimise frontline requirements during demanding periods.

3. Maximise scalability and flexibility – unexpected events can wreak havoc with even the best planned staff schedules. Adding automated WFM helps companies of all shapes and sizes operate more efficiently during challenging and volatile times. Modern, cloud-based platforms enable business leaders to remotely monitor, manage and optimise their contact centre operations. An agile approach is essential and when properly implemented, there is no reason why individual employees, teams and departments or even entire global operations cannot be managed this way.

4. Nurture future staff loyalty now – survival might be today’s priority but when normality returns, employees will remember how they were treated during this emergency. Whether they repay employers through greater loyalty or joining the competition must be a consideration. The latest WFM technology can actively assist forward-looking employers to retain their top contact centre talent. The best technologies enable businesses to finely balance the factors that keep agents busy, engaged and happy. Some progressive companies schedule a time for homeworkers to deal with children and manage busy households. Personal development, e-coaching and team-building exercises should also be factored into the mix.

5. Be part of a collaborative eco-system – our workforces may individually be working in isolation right now, but it is critical to remember that all our businesses are part of a greater eco-system. Successful contact centre strategies are dependent on a network of partners and vendors. Choose your partner wisely – you’ll gain the most support, knowledge and experience from those who are most committed to creating an open-customer service environment. At Puzzel, we think of this eco-system as a neighbourhood where we all co-exist and look out for each other’s interests.

During these challenging times, maintaining the highest customer service standards can still be achieved if your solution is built on the right foundation. In my view, this means a robust combination of cloud-based solutions, typically blending a contact centre omni-channel platform with a leading workforce management solution to optimise traffic and resources.

With this in mind, Puzzel has recently added new WFM capability to its customer service platform with the acquisition of U-WFM, a leading provider of cloud workforce management and optimisation software. The U-WFM technology increases the efficiency of omni-channel contact centres and is easy to use and simple to deploy. U-WFM provides accurate forecasting and powerful, optimised, multi-skilled schedules to support contact centres to deliver optimal customer experience while best supporting frontline employees.

To find out more and learn how your organisation can better manage and motivate its remote workforce, contact us or sign up for a free 30-day trail of U-WFM.

Børge Astrup is CEO of Puzzel