62% plan on implementing virtual contact centres over the next 18 months
Virtual contact centres (i.e., cloud-based contact systems that allow agents and managers to collaborate across distributed locations), are rapidly becoming the industry norm. According to Cisco, 28% of contact centres already have virtual contact centre capabilities thanks to the cloud and another 62% plan on implementing it over the next 18 months. Indeed, the COVID-19 pandemic made virtual contact centres a must-have for business continuity and customer service, as it allowed agents to continue working from the safety of their homes.
One of the first questions to ask when considering a virtual contact centre for your company is the timeline it will require. But before we can answer that question, we need to understand the various phases involved in the transition to a virtual contact centre.
This is the first step towards a robust and value-adding virtual contact centre, leveraging cloud technology to service customers across channels other than voice. Chatbots, messaging apps, email, web forms, and social media are among the key channels to explore. You could, technically, skip this step and build a voice-only virtual contact centre, but it is advisable to add on digital service capabilities to maximise the returns from your investment.
Thanks to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), this is probably the least time-consuming step you will face when implementing a virtual contact centre. Your contact centre data must be transformed, existing integrations have to be set up for the cloud, and you have to allocate seats and resources as per your agent workforce. Fortunately, SaaS allows contact centre solution vendors to take care of this process remotely, requiring very little time or effort from your end.
Moving to a virtual contact centre is a massive cultural and operational upheaval for your workforce. You can expect employee engagement levels to dip slightly, at least towards the beginning and agents might struggle to stay fully productive without a full-time manager and IT support. A robust change management strategy ensures that agents are physically and emotionally prepared to tackle the needs of a virtual contact centre, and the requisite processes are in place.
While it will take a little time to get used to virtual contact centre systems, your productivity and CSAT levels should stabilise after the first few weeks. You can leverage post-call surveys and manager/self-assessments to monitor progress and address any teething troubles.
The core process of getting a virtual contact centre up and running (transitioning from existing systems to a WFH/remote environment) will take anywhere between 2 and 4 weeks. Keep in mind that this includes phases 2 and 3 – you might need to devote additional time for channel reconfigurations and productivity review before and after you have transitioned.