The COVID-19 pandemic has forced contact center organizations to shift to remote work environments, and it’s had a tremendous impact on the industry. Research from Nemertes has found that the percentage of companies that allow some work at home increased from 63% of companies to 91% today. Specifically, in the contact center segment, the number of companies that allow agents to work from home has changed from 58% (pre-COVID-19) to 74%.
However, there are challenges associated with remote work in contact centers.
One of the main concerns, as cited by Nemertes, is the ability to manage remote employees. Contact center organizations must ensure that agents are balancing and maximizing their work hours related to customer support activities. Remote agents could be challenged with time management issues for several different reasons: agents may have more distractions at home that can go unchecked, or the atmosphere might be more casual or perhaps more disruptive with children at home.
Contact center organizations ought to be thinking of ways of monitoring and mitigating situations where an agent is having challenges in performing against their KPIs. Moreover, remote agents could be suffering because not only are they accustomed to working under an unorthodox environment, but they also must contend with the newly added emotional aspects of their duties.
Managing agents’ emotional well-being
Contact centers have had to grapple with managing the emotional well-being of their agents during the pandemic. Call center agents have had to deal with emotional topics, such as job loss, unemployment, or scheduling COVID tests. And as the Wall Street Journal writes, in addition to getting used to new work environments, agents have had to get accustomed to different customer behaviors. For example, the Wall Street Journal references how AnswerNet, a call center company out of Willow Grove, PA, told their agents that they could ask for a break after emotional calls so that they can collect themselves. The company does not want the emotion of one call to carry over onto the next.
The bottom line is that if contact center organizations are not mitigating this new reality, it will undoubtedly impact their overall customer experience.
What can your organization do?
So, how do you monitor and support your remote working agents? Do you record all their system activities by literally recording all their daily screen interactions? And supposing that this possible, this situation will introduce a couple of real challenges. Imagine having to review the agent’s entire shift — some eight hours’ worth of screen recording. But now, imagine having to record and monitor hundreds of agents and review their work. Do you spend days looking at all your agents’ screen recording activities? Do you randomly pick an agent on a given day and a section of time?
Now imagine having to record thousands of agents. What kind of infrastructure would you need to support thousands of interactive screen and activity recordings?
What your contact center organization needs is a virtual supervisor. With a virtual supervisor, your agents will be on top of their game because working at home would be no different than physically working at the contact center – where the supervisor is monitoring and supporting their daily customer engagement activities.
The virtual supervisor will assess agent productivity with unprecedented granularity and precision through agent desktop activity measurement capabilities.
In addition, the virtual supervisor would have intrinsic features to provide the following capabilities:
- Real-time trend reporting to view immediate snapshots of average handle time and trend reporting by workflow step.
- Performance analysis to better understand precisely how your agent pool is performing specific workflows such as new order completion, customer correspondence, or cancellation processing.
- Workflow optimization to automatically identify workflow step outliers, understand underlying performance drivers, and improve your average workflow performance completion time, completion rates, and outcome.
- Workflow analysis to measure workflow activity across the entire workforce or filtered by group, team, or region.
- Control of key performance indicators to track performance metrics to control key performance indicators (KPIs) such as average handle time (AHT) through views into specific steps in a process.
However, it’s not just about virtual supervision. It’s also about the other elements that will foster a physical contact center environment with all the analytical, quality and support tools the agents need to provide the best service and support to their customers.
Even during these difficult times, you can have happy agents working at home who are performing well against their KPIs and service level agreements. And, with all the necessary tools that would assist the agents in executing their jobs.
If you would like to learn more about how OpenText™ can help your contact center organization with best in class desktop analytics and agent guidance technology in our Qfiniti product suite, please visit our website.