A myth about making remote contact center agents work being the most difficult job is prevailing among customer service industry. Certainly, customer service agents were never accustomed for that style of working before. However, the pandemic has forced all businesses to reevaluate their stances about hybrid working situations. Customer service organizations started facilitating “work-from-anywhere” for their agents. Organization must overcome cultural challenges, as well as technical hurdles to be sustainable in the customer service domain.
Most customer service organizations were not really prepared for a work-from-anywhere setup earlier last year. Organizations were specifically not prepared to deal with the collaborative environment required for their agents to work remotely. Customer service leaders started applying patches to their existing legacy platforms as part of a short-term strategy. However, leaders had a parallel plan to employ a solution that is more driven by the future of work, next generation contact center approaches like digital-first, and agility. Despite of all the other technological challenges; change management, creating virtual environment and effective collaboration were and will remain prime focus for all customer service organizations going further.
“Gartner predicts by 2024, 30% of organizations will have moved their contact centers’ operations off-premises, with a 60% jump in all agents working from home.”
When addressing issues of business continuity and collaboration challenges in times of adversity, the immediate questions to ask about work-from-anywhere directives for customer service organization are:
Can your organization’s contact center leaders create a suitable remote-working environment to support customer service operations?
Does your organization’s contact center platform have the appropriate collaboration technology to implement the effectiveness of the remote working?
Address the Cultural and Environmental Challenges for Remote Agents:
Gartner advises customer service and support leaders to work closely with internal digital workplace experts to define a narrative for, and an approach to, increasing employee collaboration and keeping remote agents engaged (see How to Increase Adoption of Employee Collaboration Platforms). This work should involve planning how to take advantage of employee communications applications (see Market Guide for Employee Communications Applications) and digital workplace collaboration platforms (see Market Guide for Workstream Collaboration).
A remote working environment must be driven by positive energy, which will require more virtual team-building events and similar activities. These could be as simple as celebrations of project completions or work anniversaries, or just “happy hour” team calls where staff can unwind and discuss things other than work. Gartner also strongly recommends using workforce engagement management tools(see Magic Quadrant for Workforce Engagement Management), given the risks of overcommunication in terms of the time left to get work done and the potential impact on agents’ metrics.
Gartner recommend employing gamification to help build and maintain an engaged team by making work feel a little bit less like work. Gamification can be quite simple, and it offers a wide range of ways to keep agents motivated and rewarded. Introduce some easy-to-follow in-house gamified rewards for knowledge transfer, internal coaching, and the efforts of individual service experts.
• Magic Quadrant for Contact Center as a Service
• Critical Capabilities for Contact Center as a Service
• Forecast Analysis: Contact Center, Worldwide
• How to Optimize Microsoft Teams With Cloud Contact Center Platforms
• Hype Cycle for Customer Service and Support Technologies, 2020
• How to Choose Your Best-Fit Vendor for Contact Center as a Service
• Use Speech Analytics to Optimize Contact Center Costs With Self-Service, Process Improvement and Deeper Engagement
• Delivering Customer Service During COVID-19: 3 Steps to Implement Business Continuity in the Contact Center