The spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus globally has imposed telework as a means of prevention in many industries. In Spain and France, for example, authorities are advocating that companies facilitate working from home in view of the exceptional situation the region is experiencing.
The advantage of the contact center industry is that many of the tasks can be performed remotely. For this, it is essential to have the right technology (software and hardware) and to establish a clear work process that guarantees efficiency, productivity, continuity and security in the deployment of the operation.
In inConcert we have been working since 2008 with extensive telework operations. Based on this experience, we leave you some recommendations that will help minimize the impact in exceptional situations such as the one imposed today by the epidemic.
Everyone has gone home, now what?
The company cannot expect the employee to wake up the day after sending him/her home as an expert teleworker. Many of them probably do not have previous experience working remotely, nor do they have the optimal conditions to perform their tasks from their place of residence. Therefore, implementing a remote operation requires a process of adaptation, hand in hand with proper training.
The first thing you need to do is to survey the availability of your team to work from home. Do they have a computer? Do they have a quiet space where they can perform their tasks comfortably? What facilities can the company provide for the employee to accomplish their tasks?
Once you have the initial overview, provide your team with all the necessary information before you start. Explain clearly and simply how they should use the technology; and the work and communication processes so that they maintain the level of performance as if they were in the office.
The fact that workers use their own computers and residential connections (or public Wi-Fi) leads to two concerns. First, that the equipment used is powerful enough to operate continuously and agile. The second, and more critical, is that security and cybersecurity conditions are guaranteed. In other words, the system must not be breached and the protection of company and customer data must be ensured.
In order to guarantee the technical conditions, it is important that you consult your technology provider if they have a contingency plan and what alternatives they offer for the connection of remote users. Ask for support from your supplier to contract, configure and activate the solutions you need to deploy your telework operation. The key is to abstract as much as possible from the conditions of the computer used by the teleworker; and reduce risks by using connections with protected access.
In addition to having all the functional guarantees in terms of technology, it is essential to maintain the communication flow as if you were in the office.
Trust is essential here. We assume that all employees will perform their daily tasks in the same way. But other tools can also be used to simplify communication and the organization of work in all roles.
The first thing is to establish a clear communication channel for the company. It is more advisable to use a specialized app for companies than personal contact channels such as WhatsApp, where work communications are intermingled with personal ones. In general, contact center platforms have internal messaging for team members; the ideal is to centralize communication in the contact tool itself. A response deadline can be established outside of which the use of personal channels is enabled.
On the other hand, it’s important to oil the remote management of tasks. Again, contact center platforms often offer management, monitoring and coaching tools in real time or delayed.
For those working in marketing and sales, it is important that all processes stay within the CRM or your marketing automation platform. This facilitates teamwork and even self-management of tasks for each employee.
Outside of the contact center solutions, there are other task management and time tracking tools that are widely used by freelance workers. If the company considers it necessary (and covers needs that are not within its contact center technology), it can implement the use of these tools to better organize remote tasks. In this case, it is important to train workers in the correct use of each platform and establish uniform procedures so that their adoption does not end up complicating the dynamics more than it helps.
It is possible that in the process of implementing the new contingency plan, the productivity and service capacity of the contact center may decrease. To counteract this, bots are of great help in covering the interactions that cannot be attended with the usual efficiency.
There is no need to develop a bot with advanced artificial intelligence (for which a longer time is required). You can opt for an RTI bot, with preconfigured options, to provide first assistance before an agent is available to serve the customer. This way, the impatience of waiting in line is calmed and the agents get the interaction already started, with basic data on what the customer needs.
InConcert is working with many of our clients according to a contingency plan that we designed especially to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. If you have any questions or concerns, you can consult our team.