Opinion

How to make the most of an at-home contact centre operation

COVID-19 and the challenges it presents have already impacted on so many of our organisations.  Our priority, like many others, has been the health and safety of our employees, deploying thousands to a secure, work-from-home environment whilst continuing to support the needs of our customers.

We are quickly recognising this is going to be the “new norm” and in this new world, at-home solutions at scale will be a required element for all business operations going forward.  So how can you make the most of an at-home contact centre operation;

Flexibility and technology are key

Seasonality, crises, and other fluctuations in volume mean there is a roller coaster nature to staffing contact centres. And unplanned events like bad weather, power interruptions, or even widespread illness threaten to disrupt routine contact centre operations.  When it comes to workforce management and productivity, the more flexibility you have in ramping up or down quickly with a variety of dispersed staff, the better you will be at meeting service levels and delivering a great customer experience. Those companies able to use technology well to keep going and rethink their business model for the future by fast-tracking digital transformation will be ones ahead of their competition.

Access to a wider talent pool

A great benefit of the at-home model is that home agents aren’t limited by geography.  They tend to be older, more experienced, more educated, and stay with a company longer than traditional agents. Be discerning in the recruitment stage to find the right agents to serve customers with effectiveness and efficiency.

At-home agents bring professional and life experience to a client programme, along with higher educational backgrounds.  This also creates opportunities for a wider talent pool with access to veterans and disabled people and opportunities to employ people with languages skills, industry specialists and brand advocacy.

Safety and security

Information security is the number one concern when it comes to the at-home model. Often, fear about data breaches prevent companies from implementing home-based agents.  However, many of these fears can be put aside through;

People controls: Dramatically different demographic makes for a safer work environment with drug and background screening for all new hires and ongoing digital training and testing on security issues.

Technology controls: Real-time access and monitoring and-point security protection and VPN access solution. Network level controls and security certificate for second factor of authentication. Systems scanned for latest OS and security software patch updates and for integrity of applications, workstation takeover potential in case of emergency and use of web-based cameras.

Process controls: Manual oversight and monitoring, pre-deployment formal assessment and risk readout, enterprise Info Security Programme, live service observe and screen monitoring, recorded voice and screen capture, real-time Team Lead engagement/monitoring, spot inspection for user engagement and employee IP and System alert process for change to location or PC.

Simply put there are many technologies, processes, and procedures that can be put in place to prevent any data missteps. The high quality of home-based agents and continuous training on security protocols help keep information security a priority for everyone.

Effectiveness and Efficiencies

A home-based model can provide much more value to a business (and customers) than traditional contact centres. There are cost savings to be had; low operational costs, lower average handle time, less attrition and absenteeism and lower technology budget when employees have their own devices.  As well as opportunities to elevate the quality of customer interactions and the customer experience through the highly skilled and trained agents able to provide a higher standard of service.

Continual learning…virtually

The options for employee training and ongoing learning are expansive in a work-at-home environment. The reduced expense, compared to  brick-and-mortar training, allows for many types of online and digital continual training such as simulated learning, de-brief discussions, online self-paced courses, virtual classrooms with live trainers, targeted profile hiring, outcome-based learning (vs. schedule-based).

Moving to a home-based model is a strategic decision, so find an experienced partner to make the end-to-end transition as frictionless as possible.

It’s not necessary to completely upend your contact centre. Begin by transitioning some of your associates to at-home, then gradually increase seats.

As with any project that touches customers, make sure any decisions will positively impact your customers. Be sure the home-based model meets the needs of your customers as much as, or better than, the brick-and-mortar model.

For more information on the flexibility of a work-from-home model, downloaded the ‘Success begins at home’ eBook here: https://www.ttec.com/resources/ebooks-and-strategy-guides/resiliency-begins-home.

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