Lockdowns forced contact centres to switch to remote working overnight. While interim technology solutions may have met immediate needs, they aren’t necessarily the right fit for the long-term. Jeremy Payne, Group VP, Marketing and Alliances, Enghouse Interactive looks at how contact centres can future-proof their remote working strategy, with a checklist of the areas to focus on.
The pandemic transformed contact centres, dramatically accelerating the take-up of remote working. While the majority of organisations were able to make the switch with interim remote working solutions, moving forward they need to shift from their current set up to a more robust infrastructure that meets changing customer, agent and business requirements.
That means putting in place the right tools, technology, data and processes to give them real-time insight and control to:
- Track and quantify the entire experience, for both individual consumers and the entire customer base
- Monitor service quality on an ongoing basis, against both internal SLAs and business KPIs
- Evaluate agent performance, identify training needs and deliver the support required to constantly improve performance, engagement and productivity while maintaining agent motivation and wellbeing
- Identify and correct discrepancies and issues within the customer service process quickly and effectively
- Ensure the highest standards of security and compliance when it comes to processes and protecting customer and employee data
To achieve this, contact centres have to focus on these four areas to successfully implement future-proofed, scalable remote working:
1. Build flexibility and agility with the cloud
Organisations that switched quickly to cloud-based contact centre technology in order to meet the need for remote working when lockdowns began are now being exposed to the lack of functionality within some of these interim solutions. This means that these systems can’t be relied on for the long term.
Companies should now evaluate their technology and check that their cloud solutions are:
- Scalable and flexible to meet changing requirements
- Simple to integrate with other systems
- Able to provide full performance reporting and quality monitoring to enable real-time decision making
- Easy to use by agents and managers, without needing significant retraining
Agents who are used to working in a busy contact centre can feel lost when switching to remote working. Enabling real-time collaboration, through platforms such as Microsoft Teams, is crucial to overcoming this challenge. The experience of Irish gas and electricity supplier Flogas demonstrates this. It implemented a combination of Microsoft Teams and Enghouse’s Contact Center (CC) solution, which enabled its 130 agents to both collaborate more closely and to work from home.
While Flogas found the new CC solution easy and intuitive to use and was able to get up and running with it quickly, to ensure supervisors and agents were using it to its full potential, Enghouse Interactive delivered complementary training, tailored to each job role. Enghouse showed flexibility in making active use of video calls to continue to deliver training remotely during the pandemic.
2.Ensuring high-quality, consistent service
Wherever agents are based, they need to be delivering high-quality customer service – and that means managers need to be able to monitor every interaction, across every channel, against key SLAs, in real-time.
Monitoring technology can keep track of both phone and online activity during working hours to identify and investigate discrepancies (such as multiple calls to non-work numbers or the use of unverified applications). Cloud-based call recording solutions deliver the same evidence-based audit trail as within the contact centre, delivering reassurance to both businesses and customers.
Your remote working technology therefore must enable you to go beyond basic reporting metrics to:
- Measure performance against specific business KPIs (such as abandoned calls or CSAT and NPS)
- Record and monitor calls in the same way as within the contact centre and make that information quickly available to supervisors
- Capture the entire customer journey with every interaction, from start to finish
- Enable the fast collection of feedback, from consumers and employees
3.Focus on supporting staff to work effectively
Successful businesses recognised that the switch to remote working was an enormous change for agents and put in place greater communication, collaboration and support to help them adjust.
Moving forward, companies need to redouble their efforts to ensure agents have everything they need to maintain their wellbeing and optimise their performance through an effective working environment.
As well as agents, managers and supervisors need to be able to coach, support and develop staff remotely. That requires access to high-quality, real-time performance reporting and tools such as real-time speech analytics. This can be used to analyse live calls to give feedback to agents and supervisors, delivering automated quality assurance, measuring legal compliance and providing the ability to coach agents, irrespective of location.
4.Maintain the highest levels of security
Ensuring compliance and protecting confidential customer information when staff are working remotely is vital.
Businesses need to reiterate that the same processes around confidentiality and security must be followed by remote workers. They also need to add additional rules to protect the privacy of both information and the agents themselves, such as requiring that calls cannot be overheard and that cameras should be off when talking to customers.
Predicting the future is nigh-on impossible, but it is clear that remote working is going to be a significant part of contact centre operations moving forward. That’s why organisations need to ensure they have the right technology in place to support longer-term remote working if they are to provide the experience that customers – and staff – require.
About Jeremy Payne, International VP Marketing, Enghouse Interactive
Jeremy has over two decades of distinguished experience in the software and services industry and has worked as a marketing leader within several blue chip corporates across the globe. In his current role as VP International Marketing at Enghouse Interactive, Jeremy is responsible for the commercialisation of the company’s four key solutions across Europe Middle East and Africa. He is an expert in Customer Relationship and Interaction Management, as well as Business Process Improvement and Social CRM and has travelled globally presenting on the key trends in these areas.