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Contact center workforce 
Best practices for
shifting to remote work

Author: Shane Schick

Contact centers have emerged as an integral part of the effort to build an outstanding customer experience. When customers feel they're getting personalized attention from an agent, they're more likely to remain loyal and even recommend the company to their friends and family.

For many organizations, it may be difficult, at first, to imagine running a contact center anywhere but within their organization's own walls. But faced with the need to manage a remote workforce, business decision-makers will inevitably have some concerns to address. What if important data isn't captured or managed correctly? How can you ensure the security of so many remote devices? How can you prevent outages and downtime to ensure a seamless customer experience?

Technology has transformed contact center workforce management; with the right solutions in place, remote agents look less like a liability and more like an opportunity you can't afford to ignore.

The inevitable challenges

Many companies made considerable investments in IT and communications tools when they set up their first on-premises contact centers. While the prospect of a remote contact center might invoke the unpleasant notion of recreating microcosms of that environment within each agent's home, cloud computing offers a more streamlined alternative.

Remote cloud contact center software can be accessed nearly anywhere, providing agents with the tools they need to manage voice and digital channels simultaneously. This includes the ability to connect with customers by phone, email, chat or social media—in other words, meeting customers in whatever medium they choose to use.

Next, advanced contact routing eliminates the need for a contact center manager to intervene when a customer's problem is urgent or requires specific expertise. Instead, the technology not only identifies the best agent but also ensures they have the information they need to improve their response.

On the back end, managers can use workforce optimization technology to address the most common (and formerly time-intensive) tasks such as finding and scheduling available agents. No part of this setup requires physical proximity to the agent. In fact, the analytics of contact center workforce management solutions allows them to monitor and optimize the team's performance, adding third-party apps, such as a customer relationship management system, to arm agents with stronger, real-time customer intelligence.

How to prepare and react

Recognizing a remote contact center's potential requires a shift in mindset, but it won't take long once you get started. It may be time to change or reprioritize traditional metrics for success as this approach becomes the new normal.

Instead of rigidly adhering to key performance indicators around call times or cost per contact, agents working from home could be measured by how well they demonstrate empathy to customers, resulting in reduced churn and increased business.

No matter where they are, an agent's ability to engage with customers may become a better way of assessing whether an experience was satisfying, or if a customer would recommend the company to their peers.

Make the move to remote

The COVID-19 pandemic has been the catalyst for many organizations to set up or move operations to function as remote contact centers. While the move to remote workforce management may have been born out of necessity, the advantages are clear, and many businesses are enjoying greater productivity, better efficiency and happier customers.

Learn how you can set up a Virtual Contact Center to start seeing these results for yourself.