Navigating the Transition to Remote Contact Center Operations

Posted by Jeff Stormer

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As we continue to adjust the changes that social distancing has brought to our society, businesses have been compelled to embrace the idea of digital transformation. While many were hesitant to adopt these practices pre-pandemic, they now realize that many efficiencies can be gained through work-at-home implementations. This concept is especially true in a contact center, since the agents who provide customer engagement can often do so from anywhere.

Many businesses were able to meet the challenges presented by COVID-19 head-on by quickly instituting work-at-home policies for their contact center staff, keeping operations running at baseline levels. And now that the dust has settled, these organizations are experiencing the profound benefits industry pundits have raved about for years, like greater efficiency, lower operating costs, and happier agents.

The Benefits of Deploying Virtual Contact Center Solutions

For the Business: Reduced Costs & Increased Productivity

From an operations standpoint, there are significant cost efficiencies associated with managing a virtual contact center. Both agents and managers can work seamlessly and transparently, ensuring that service levels are obtained. Work-at-home deployments also reduce the physical footprint, giving businesses an opportunity to save significantly on commercial real estate expenditures and other operational costs.

Just how much can a business stand to save by transitioning to a digital contact center? In a study conducted by Gallup Research in late 2019, businesses found they saved approximately $10,000 per year in reduced real estate costs, while overall productivity increased by 20 percent.

As we all face a future where a growing number of employees will go virtual, it’s good to know that there is a proof-of-concept that validates the virtual contact center. Having crossed that threshold, the market will have a greater incentive to take advantage of these new efficiencies, and extend them to the many businesses that are still coming to grips with properly managing a virtualized contact center.

For the Agent: Improved Quality of Life

In addition to the profound financial advantages to companies, virtual contact centers offer many benefits to the agents that staff these departments. Instead of working in a large, cavernous, and impersonal room, agents can work comfortably, intimately, and efficiently — all of which translates to greater output, higher job satisfaction, and reduced turn-over. Gallup found that up to a whopping 80 percent of employees would prefer working from home, and that was before the pandemic.

Any business that can offer a work-at-home environment will quickly see improvements across many of the key metrics that matter in a contact center: agent productivity, customer satisfaction scores, reduced expenses, and higher employee retention. For example, according to Gallup, agencies that reduced telework policies saw increased sick leave and vacation requests from those workers. The return to on-site work yielded no productivity increases, and actually made two-thirds of those employees consider quitting. The same article asserted that as remote environments become more common, companies that don’t embrace the virtual workforce may have difficulty competing for talent.

Employee retention is particularly pertinent in contact center environments, where turn-over is typically high, since service agents deal with disgruntled customers and are tasked with resolving stress-inducing issues on a daily basis. If those agents are able to work in a more flexible and comfortable environment, it’s more likely they’ll stay in their positions longer, and business owners will see a better return on their investment in those employees.

What to Look For in a Virtual Contact Center Solution

There are some “must-haves” when virtualizing a contact center. The platform’s capabilities must work as seamlessly in virtual environments as they would as part of an on-premises infrastructure. The solution needs to project a unified corporate identity to incoming callers, as if all agents and employees on the system are located in the same room. It should be completely transparent to the outside world that workers are located in different areas.

Most importantly, however, an effective solution needs to be flexible enough to not just fit into a team’s workstyle — it needs to fit into their workflow at the same time. More and more businesses in an increasing number of verticals are realizing the need for effective customer engagement, while simultaneously grappling with the transition into a work-from-home environment. By giving those customers a set of comprehensive tools that can meaningfully impact their daily operations, channel partners can empower those customers to improve processes and identify new efficiencies, allowing them to focus their efforts on not just adjusting to a remote environment, but using it to become an even stronger team in the process.

But just how can a Contact Center solution address the needs of such a wide range of customers? The key is to consider how those customers are themselves operating as a sort of “non-traditional” contact center. To learn more, download our exclusive Frost & Sullivan white paper. We cover how a growing number of teams across organizations are leveraging Contact Center technology to improve the customer experience, increase First Contact Resolution, and create new efficiencies.

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