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Latest 19 Mar 2020 | Best Practices

6 Tips for Shifting to a Remote Contact Center

The current pandemic is having an unprecedented effect on the way we go about our lives. When a situation like this occurs, we are indebted to people who work on the front line of service helping people to navigate the uncertainties of the situation.

With travel plans changing, retailers stretched and events being postponed until further notice, concerned consumers have been reaching out to support teams in huge numbers. 

Until recently, that meant contacting someone working in a contact center. This network of customer support agents has a vital role to play in bringing some semblance of normality to our everyday lives. But what happens now that governments around the world are recommending or enforcing social distancing? Emphasizing and asking us all to work from home where we can. 

Just like many businesses that are fortunate to continue operating with employees working from home, contact centers have also begun shifting to remote working. We already have a few clients that have fully distributed contact centers and others have been in touch for advice on how to approach it.

Here are 6 tips for transitioning seamlessly to a remote contact center:

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1. A robust video conferencing platform is worth its weight in gold

In a normal contact center, you and your team have plenty of time for face-to-face interactions. Going remote doesn’t mean you lose this. It just means you have to think about it differently. We’re not running a contact center, but we use Zoom for all of our internal (and most of our external) video conferencing. Whatever system you choose, utilize it for training team members and regular weekly team meetings. We ask all of our employees to make sure their cameras are on so we can see everyone's faces. It’s a small touch but it makes a big difference in replicating the feeling of being in the same room together.

2. Utilize your analytics suite

You use this every day under normal circumstances and then shouldn’t change when going remote. In some cases, agents may take time to adapt to working from home. Use the tools you have available to monitor their performance and provide any additional training to support their transition from the contact center.

3. IP and machine locking

Every connection to the internet can be identified via an IP address (a numerical identifier such as 92.71.13.124). You can limit access to particular IP addresses so that employees are restricted to accessing trusted networks and minimize damage from a compromised account. The same can also be done for devices to ensure employees are only logging in on approved machines.

*Top Tip* ALWAYS make sure your video is on for Zoom calls. This way, people feel more connected in conversation.

4. Setting agent permissions

With people working remotely, lines can get blurred. By restricting permissions, you can ensure agents only have access to what they need. This helps them to focus on the support they’re providing without having the distraction of anything outside of their remit.

5. Intelligent case distribution

Different contact centers and different platforms have varying ways of distributing cases to agents. We have a feature called Play Mode that matches the customer conversation back to the agent who has been handling the query. This is even more important to get right when you go remote. With no physical visibility of who’s handling what, smooth distribution ensures there are no clashes with agents working on the same case. Customers also benefit by not having to repeat themselves to a new agent each time they get in touch.

6. Queues and categorization

It's always important to be tagging queries based on the customer’s intent and queuing them to the most suitable agent. It's absolutely vital when going remote. Without being able to easily shout over the desk to each other (use Slack to achieve this) the teams need to rely on a queueing system to route and categorize information and report on it in a way the team can understand and the company can relate to. With the current climate, it’s invaluable to understand where your volume is coming from and why.

These are just some tips that I hope help as you make the transition to a remote contact center. If you’re going through the process yourself and have any additional advice, please get in touch @conversocial and we can add your tips to this list. Hopefully, it can become a useful resource for others who are adapting to this change.

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