Let’s face it, we live in an age where technology is changing rapidly and innovating the way we do business around the world. And with the breakdown of what were once technological barriers, many businesses have grown more accustomed to the idea of remote employees. So much in fact, that many businesses around the world operate and thrive completely remote.
At Inflow, we’ve seen the benefits of this idea take form in our everyday operations. For contact centers, adding agents that work partly or exclusively remote offers many benefits. Not only does it reduce overhead, but it offers greater flexibility and increased job satisfaction among agents.
Contact centers have been pretty familiar with remote phone communication for a while, since this is the channel where a majority of customer communication takes place. And while there are plenty of advantages to having remote agents, there are certainly some downsides as well. As inContact recently pointed out, this includes “limiting face-to-face conversations and making it harder to track performance”. For more information on this, check out their full blog post here.
But don’t let that stop you from reaping the benefits of adopting a remote lifestyle. If you’ve recently implemented remote agents, or plan to in the near future, here are five tips to help you manage them better:
For contact center agents, there’s no formal education to prepare you for the industry. If you’re a contact center agent who’s feeling like you’re ‘winging it’, don’t fret. Most of the education you’ll get is on-the-job.
If you really want to ensure the success of your agents, staff training is a must. It’s preferably done in-house, but that’s not always an option with remote agents. Instead, think about designing a training program with an online component that’s tailored toward remote agents. Their experiences with your call center will be different than those of in-house staffers, and the training should reflect that. It’ll also be important to make sure the agent or agents have all they need to get their remote call center started, including a supervisor or mentor who is available for the first couple weeks to answer any questions.
- Leverage Workforce Optimization
One of the biggest challenges in managing remote agents involves tracking employee performance. That’s why familiarizing remote agents with workforce optimization software can really help take some of the pressure off while ensuring you’re maintaining the highest levels of customer service. The tools usually included with this type of software include call quality monitoring, call recording, performance management, coaching, and more, all of which assist managers in feeling a little more confident with their remote agents’ work.
- Frequent Communication
It’s true, communication is key. Given their distance, it’s not uncommon for remote agents to feel out of the loop on various company communications. That’s why it’s important to have strategies in place to make your communication effective and efficient. Having them phone-in to company-wide meetings when necessary can be a good strategy, as well as weekly or even daily check-ins. Getting all employees on an instant messaging system to answer questions quickly can also make the team feel more connected. Whatever you decide, make sure the remote agents feel they have the support needed to perform at optimum levels.
- Cloud Contact Center Software
Unlike traditional premise-based contact center software, moving your contact center infrastructure to the cloud can ensure your entire staff are all working off the same systems and with the same tools no matter where they are. This leads to consistency, a level-playing field, and also helps to resolve any technical issues.
- Performance Management Analytics
We mentioned earlier how workforce optimization software can help with performance management. No matter what type of software you decide to use, you’ll also want to keep a close eye on analytics. Getting good data on your agents’ activity while they’re logged into the system —especially in areas like call volume, efficiency, call length, and quality score— is imperative. Not only will accurate metrics let you gauge your agents’ daily workload, but they’ll also assist when the time comes for annual performance reviews and coaching sessions.
Managing remote employees decades ago was a little bit of a gamble. Thankfully, technology has given us a lot more insight into the process and support to get the job done right.
At Inflow, we offer industry-leading innovative support to help get your contact center on track. Join one of our educational webinars, subscribe to our blogs, or contact us today and find out the benefits of partnering with Inflow to design, deploy and maintain your unified communications solution.
Founded in 1997, Inflow is one of the nation’s top Unified Communications and Contact Center consultants in today’s market. Pioneers in cloud unified communications and cloud contact center success, Inflow is the first company to provide contact center consulting and training focused solely on helping you elevate your customer experience.
With over 200,000 endpoints supported under Inflow’s innovative success programs around the world, Inflow built its brand and reputation around providing unrivaled customer support. Inflow is in Mitel/ShoreTel’s top 2% in global customer satisfaction, and quickly acquiring a top spot with RingCentral, Genesys PureCloud and NICE inContact.
By partnering with Inflow, you can expect the highest level of strategic consultation, execution, and optimization available in the industry.