Remote working is no longer the hip, new trend but something employees around the world have come to expect from their jobs. In fact, FlexJobs Annual Survey found that 58% of people want full-time remote work and 39% want hybrid – equating to a huge 97% of people wanting some form of remote work.
With up to 60% attrition in the contact center industry (McKinsey), the case for going remote only grows more compelling if you’re looking to retain and attract the best agents.
So, what do you need to take your contact center remote and how can you run a well-oiled, secure operation with your agents located anywhere?
Based on my discussions with contact center professionals, these are some of the key features they look for to successfully operate in a remote setting.
1. Remote management capability
This one’s a given, right? Supervisors can’t physically see and manage agents so you need a mechanism to help achieve this. Any good contact center software allows you to coordinate and track the entire activity of your agents. You can assign and transfer agents between projects in a few clicks, listen in and even coach on live calls without the customer hearing (“call whispering”), or change their work status and manage breaks.
But how do you replace the human connection that’s seemingly lost with remote working? You can certainly alleviate this through ensuring you’re set up with internal live chat capability, regular video calls, and upholding agent development through constructive assessments and training.
2. The right dialer
For outbound setups, the dialer makes all the difference. A good dialer can keep your agents busy on active calls, diminish wait time between conversations, and keep you hitting KPIs – all without having to continuously manage agents. There are a couple of automated dialers you can choose from – power and predictive being two of the most commonly used – but much depends on the goals of your campaigns.
Power dialeris great for tackling your contact lists head on and, quite literally, “powering through” phone numbers to reach the end of your list as quickly as possible. While your call volumes will go up, a drawback of power dialers is that your agents will likely be waiting longer for active calls due to factors such as waiting for the contact to pick up, voicemails, and inactive phone numbers. (One important thing to keep in mind is that top contact center solutions also include voicemail detection which can alleviate some of these pain points.)
Predictive dialer, on the other hand, takes a more considered approach by prioritizing active talk time above everything else. In short, the system ensures the agent always has another contact ready on the line before they conclude their current call. An effective predictive dialer will have a host of easy-to-use settings or even use algorithms to balance agent availability with call volumes. You’ll likely make fewer calls with a predictive dialer compared to its “power” counterpart, but the outcomes of these calls will typically be a lot better.
3. A real-time KPI dashboard
Imagine being a supervisor working from home and, at a glance, seeing all call activity as it’s happening right in front of you; number of calls in progress, average wait and handling times, queue sizes, and conversions. That’s the power of a real-time KPI dashboard.
A good contact center dashboard will allow you to dig deeper into the overarching metrics and monitor a team’s or individual’s performance so you can address any issues swiftly.
While dashboards are certainly nothing new in contact centers, they’re absolutely pivotal in a remote setting where you have zero physical visibility over agents. What’s more, if you need to supplement your dashboard with new or custom KPIs for specific campaigns, your contact center software should allow you to do this in just a few clicks – all from the comfort of your own home.
4. Omnichannel functionality
Omnichannel contact centers enable their agents to instantly switch between customer channels (e.g. voice, email, SMS, live chat) for both outbound and inbound communication. It’s a powerful innovation in the industry because of its ability to give agent-customer communication a genuinely seamless flow.
In the context of the remote contact center, omnichannel is a must because agents can instantly view and continue interactions without disrupting the customer experience. This means agents can easily transfer between customer conversations, no matter where in the world they’re located. What’s more, any agent can pick up a previous interaction and quickly read all historical communication using just one interface.
5. A secure, cloud VPN
Possibly the greatest risk factor of a remote contact center is information and data security. You’re allowing agents to potentially handle a huge amount of sensitive details while they’re not physically present in a centralized office.
One way to significantly diminish data handling risk is by using a virtual private network (VPN). A cloud-based VPN allows your agents to securely send and receive encrypted data on an entirely private network. You can also take a number of other measures to boost information security, such as:
Two-factor authentication and ensuring agents use hard-wired internet to reduce the chance of hacks or data leaks
Changing your contact center software’s permissions so only authorized personnel can access certain information