Blog: Top 10 Takeaways for Contact Centre Remote Working in the New Normal

If the COVID-19 crisis proved anything, it was the limitations of on-premise legacy contact centres. Many companies, forced to switch agents to home working, struggled to cope with off-scale traffic spikes while enacting business continuity plans that hadn’t accounted for pandemics and similar extreme events.

Conversely, moving to agent home working was relatively simple for organisations with a cloud-based contact platform like Foehn VoxivoCX or Genesys Cloud. In some cases, they were up and running in just 48 hours.

There’s been a lot to learn in a short time. Here are our top 10 takeaways for contact centre infrastructure in the new normal.

A. The big picture: it’s all in the cloud

1. Keep up the momentum on digital transformation.
The COVID-19 crisis forced many companies to accelerate digital transformation plans. The question “Does it meet the needs of home workers?” is now front-of-mind when evaluating new ideas. But sadly, contact centres still rank low when it comes to executive sponsorship and budget. Stand your ground.

2. Build your business case for cloud now – the timing’s perfect.
Business continuity is top of mind with senior management, after many found themselves unprepared at the start of the crisis. If you’re still using an on-premise contact centre platform, now’s the time to drive home the benefits of switching to the cloud.

3. Be prepared to adapt to changing events.
When the crisis began, companies with cloud-based contact centres were able to maintain similar service levels to those before the lockdown. Looking ahead, cloud gives them the agility and digital roadmap to replace expensive call handling with cheaper customer engagement channels.

B. Cloud functionality that empowers remote workers and responds to customer needs

4. Offer multiple forms of customer self-service.
Cost-effective options include web chat and social, mobile and help centre services, along with cognitive bot and robotic process automation.

5. Motivate agents and simplify routine activities.
Regular contact, challenges and light-hearted competitions lessen the effects of isolation by keeping staff engaged. Intuitive tools that take the grind out of repetitive tasks help boost morale and job satisfaction too.

6. Equip supervisors to upskill agents and schedule resources remotely.
The ability to observe and coach staff from a distance, using tools like speech transcription and text analytics, is essential. You’ll also need a flexible scheduling system to cope with more fluid home working shift patterns.

C. Solid, but agile, implementation methodology

7. Obtain inputs from all stakeholders.
Change management projects run solely by IT with little input from others are unlikely to end well. Engage end users and business stakeholders, so you can deliver a solution tailored to their needs.

8. Execute in short sprints.
Implement in stages, like a relay rather than a marathon, testing and learning as you go. That makes it easier, if necessary, to assess outcomes and adjust your planning.

9. Define roles and communicate clearly.
Assemble your best experts with the right skills, define and allocate roles (including a senior accountable person from the business with decision-making clout). Bring everyone else with you by selling the vision internally, and identify cloud early adopters to help embed the vision. Report progress regularly.

10. Have a Plan B.
Draw up a transparent process for handling change requests. Make sure there’s a rollback procedure in case something breaks. And be prepared to adapt at short notice to business needs.

In summary, we’d recommend viewing enforced changes in working practices as a springboard to future improvements. Whether moving to the cloud or adding new customer engagement channels, now is the time. Equip your agents and supervisors with tools that make light work of admin and keep everyone skilled and engaged. Implement with agility and include all your stakeholders along the way.

If you want to learn more, read our guide on ‘CX lessons learnt from the COVID-19 lockdown‘.

More about the author
Julian Barrow

Julian Barrow is a sales leader at Foehn Ltd., committed to on-going service delivery excellence to clients and a commitment to exceptional customer experience. Julian’s experience ranges from large corporates and contact centres to SMBs and start-up businesses. As a Genesys Gold partner, Julian is a recognised leader in helping clients move to cloud contact centre and helping them realise the benefits of agility, innovation and scale. He is well-known in the industry for his understanding of both the technology and the importance of brilliant partnerships.