How to run a contact center – from home

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In this opinion piece, Kelly Brickley, Enterprise Telecommunications Solutions Consultant at Digital Island, draws on her white paper to explain why it’s vital for contact centers to be lone wolves, rather than to follow the herd.

New technology means that contact centers can operate just as efficiently from a distance.

One of the main by-products of Covid-19 has been the need for businesses – and even central agencies like contact centers – to work from home.

It sounds like a contradiction in the terms: a contact center and working from home? But what we’ve seen throughout the pandemic is that there is cloud-based technology that can not only make working from home easier, but also add new, highly efficient capabilities to contact centers, providing huge benefits to the company.

Anyone who supports customers through a contact center knows that data and KPIs are essential in a contact center to ensure that inbound workload is handled within a reasonable time frame and that customers don’t languish in a queue. .

However, it is a delicate balancing act. On the one hand, you want to provide your customers with a high level of service – where they don’t wait too long to speak to someone, and their request, complaint, or support issue is resolved as quickly and painlessly as possible. It is preferably on the first call, without going from pillar to post.

On the other hand, from an operational point of view, you need to maximize efficiency. After all, every second that an agent engages with a client costs you money. Each inbound or outbound interaction includes the labor expense and the dollar value of the call itself.
It is therefore essential to achieve this perfect balance between customer service and operating costs.

So what to do? Well, when setting KPIs you can follow the herd and accepted industry standards or take a lone wolf stance and focus only on what matters to your business – what works for you. your customers ; what you can realistically afford and achieve.

Realistic expectations
The mean processing time (AHT) is a key metric. But by telling agents that contacts should not exceed “X” minutes (because that means you need more people and it will cost too much), it encourages negative behaviors, such as rushing the customer, creating a record for another department to manage, miss opportunities to sell or educate customers on how to self-serve.

Customers experience double-dealing – when they just want their problem handled smoothly and efficiently, and solved quickly, by one person, the first time. Their initial investment of “X minutes” with the first agent can potentially be doubled or tripled when they enter a “pass the package” cycle. When they need to explain their problem repeatedly, it’s understandable that their attitude towards your help desk is negative.

COPC’s 2020 Consumer Experiences and Opinions: A Year Like No Other benchmark series reports: “Customers who transfer are less satisfied than those who do not transfer.”

The loss of positive customer perception is a high price to pay for rigidly adhering to an inadequate package or AHT.

It may only take a few minutes to adjust your AHT to get an initial resolution. So while you may need to negotiate a bit more time and money, the investment in improving the customer experience will likely reward you in terms of customer satisfaction, value, and ultimately, loyalty.

Cloud based technology
It is increasingly clear that working from home offers benefits for both employer and employee, but requires more give and take.

Working remotely, without the assistance of a nearby team leader ready to help, can affect average turnaround time and occupancy rates. There is a greater demand for self-sufficiency of agents, which promotes the need for the right tools and a good knowledge base. It’s important to look at the environments your agents work in, the factors that impact them, and realign your pre-Covid KPIs to reflect those changes.

Interestingly, modern cloud-based contact center applications support the work-from-home scenario from an employer and agent perspective more perfectly than almost any other technology, due to the availability in the workplace. real-time agent queue and status.

For the agents, it is as usual with a change of scenery and no travel. For employers, contact center technology tools provide full, real-time visibility into what each agent is doing. You can monitor call quality, record every interaction, measure every KPI, giving real accountability.

You can also consider using bots combined with powerful knowledge-based tools to proactively provide your team with the on-site information needed to improve first-contact resolution rates. For example, a bot listening to the customer’s call can provide instant and accurate information to the agent’s screen during the call. As a result, the call is resolved faster, and you hit both your average processing time and your call resolution rate KPIs.

As self-service technology (SST) grows in popularity, so does customer expectations. Usage has increased, but customer satisfaction is still considered too low.

“Although the resolution of issues via SST was low (at 69%), the rate improved compared to previous years. The good news, however, is that “satisfaction with OSH appears to be increasing year over year (from 40% satisfaction with the first two boxes in 2018 to 60% in 2020),” according to the COPC Consumer report.

If you enable bots to serve customers, there should be a targeted first contact KPI so that the customer can resolve themselves without necessarily going through an agent. If you reduce inbound call volumes, you can afford to increase your average handling time KPIs, so agents can use the time to add more value by selling cross-product or incentive services or products.

In human terms, average processing time can impact agent satisfaction levels. When given too little time to resolve the average call – the first time around – agents become frustrated. It can cost you dearly. At a time when qualified resources are increasingly scarce, retention is increasingly critical.

If your technology supports agents working remotely (and if it doesn’t these days, why not?), Then you can quickly integrate remote agents, locally and internationally, full-time or full-time. partiel.

Most importantly, you can track their individual KPIs as if you were in the same physical office and identify performance issues as they arise. With each agent equipped with their own dashboard and the team leader having a real-time view of the status of queue activity, it is easier for the whole team to understand and understand. ‘achieve goals.

For more information, read the Digital Island white paper here: