We talk cloud contact centre with Chris Cyrol, Product Marketing Manager at RingCentral
The sudden need to stay at home has meant big changes in the way we work – none more so than in customer service and contact centre operations.
While some businesses have adapted swiftly, for others the process has been more problematic. The need isn’t novel, however; the trend to work from home has many other drivers beyond a global pandemic.
To compete in a highly-competitive, operationally agile marketplace, even contact centres must evolve and innovate. Enabling remote work provides numerous benefits to the contact centre, including access to a broader talent pool, follow-the-sun scheduling and guaranteed business continuity.
Change can be difficult and complicated, which could explain the reticence for customer service teams to leave behind their familiar on-premises contact centres. But with businesses across the world having to deal with the fallout from Coronavirus, change has become more necessity than recommendation.
If you’re a contact centre faced with the need to take your workforce remote, what does that mean in practical terms?
Agents already working with a cloud-based contact centre will experience little difference when switching to remote work. A web-based platform means agents can simply take their mobile computers and softphones home, connect them to the internet, and log in to the software to start working.
One of the most drastic changes is how communication and collaboration changes. In the office environment, everybody is used to seeing each other face-to-face in an established pattern of communication, but this is suddenly gone or has changed drastically.
Contact centre managers need to ensure all agents have access to an online collaboration tool where expert groups can be established, or just a team social channel to keep the communication going and to prevent agents from feeling isolated or helpless.
From a workforce perspective, enabling remote working has been found to decrease employee churn as agents benefit from increased flexibility. Furthermore, according to Chris Cyrol, Product Marketing Manager at RingCentral, “Overheads fall due to a lighter reliance on office space, heating, cooling and electricity.”
Widening the recruitment net opens up access to agents with the most desirable skillsets, which can lead to more productive agents delivering a better customer experience. While remote workers must be able to self-manage and apply discipline to maintain peak performance, the autonomy provided by remote work empowers individuals to set themselves up for success by managing their environment and working habits.
As with all aspects of digital transformation, making the switch to remote working isn’t simply a case of plugging in a new system. The transition needs to be based on needs evaluation, business processes, employee enablement and risk management. While vendors are well qualified to assist with planning and implementation, the business must be prepared to fully identify and articulate its own needs.
“Define clearly what the organisation wants to accomplish with going remote,” says Chris Cyrol
“Check with your existing agents if they have the required space and surrounding environment to work from home. Consider retaining some hot-desking capability at the office location. Ideally, workflow plans should be conducted with your existing agents.”
For remote working to be truly viable, organisations need to move to a cloud contact centre solution that includes online collaboration tools to keep the workforce connected and collaborative. It’s essential that employees are enabled with all the tools, along with access to all the information they need, in order to do their best work.
A staged implementation allows time for the workforce to train on and troubleshoot software as it is introduced into workflows. To achieve a successful transition, says Chris, “Agents must be trained and feel comfortable with the new environment, and start in groups to work from home, rather than trying to shift everybody at once.” This kind of gradual approach helps to catch and iron out glitches before they have a chance to dramatically affect productivity.
Organisations should also maintain open communication with remote agents and hold regular update meetings to keep them informed, trained and engaged. Thorough evaluation of the implementation will reflect whether or not the project can be deemed a success. Once the transition is complete and working well, it’s important to celebrate that success with the entire team to encourage ownership and spread recognition.
Situations are likely to change after the switch, so it’s important to be aware of those changes and how to deal with them. Allow for a ‘growing in’ period. Products and promotions will change, so there will be plenty of flux in the daily operation. This could also mean that new functions or feature upgrades are added to the contact centre. Training and regular communication will be key to continuing a successful contact centre operation.
There are many elements that should be taken care of in order to optimise the working from home experience. To help businesses and individuals get these in place, RingCentral created a remote working resources hub and an online remote working playbook.
For more information about remote working, visit www.ringcentral.co.uk