Over recent months, many organisations have adopted home-based teams for customer service delivery.
The level of their success was heavily influenced by whether work-at-home (WAH) was part of their existing CX model, or if lockdown forced them to adapt to a home environment because in-centre operations had shut down.
In both cases, the rapid change had an impact on customer service and, equally important, the management of team performance and individuals who now found themselves working remotely.
For organisations that have WAH as part of their core service, they know it’s not simply a case of transferring in-centre processes and reusing them in an at-home environment. It requires different insights, approaches, and communications to what worked in-centre.
Managing Home-Based Agents
When work-at-home is considered or discussed as a possible support solution, one of the top questions asked is “how do you manage home-based agents?”
SYKESHome, our approach to WAH, has developed and improved over the years. It starts with understanding that everything happens within the virtual space: recruitment, training, coaching, monitoring and communications, all take place virtually. Technology, like our OneTEAM platform, supports agents as they interact with team leads, catch up with colleagues in chat rooms during breaks, complete training and manage upcoming shifts. It also allows team leads to manage agents across any location and geography.
Recruitment and training are equally important to WAH success. Not every candidate will flourish in the home environment, so identifying this early in the process is key for building a successful work-at-home team.
Access to data and analytics plays a significant role in the management of agent performance. To successfully monitor activity, companies must be able to collect relevant data and utilise it effectively.
For example, listening to a call while also observing what is happening on the agent’s screen allows team leads to understand if their people are using the available tech in the best way, and if there are any issues making processes more complex or lengthy which impact agent and customer experience.
The Right Technology
As mentioned above, having the right technology to support home-based agents is vital. Companies that had already established work-at-home saw a smoother transition from in-centre during the crisis. This success was down to having the necessary technology in place to enable them to continue receiving calls, emails, and chats. It also ensured team leaders could observe and manage agents while they went through this change, which limited impact on performance.
Its also worth considering that technology designed for work-at-home can be utilised in-centre. Contact through digital channels ensures a level of social distancing, which is a key best practice for all businesses today.
Ultimately, from a customer perspective, it doesn’t matter if agents are based at home or in-centre as long as their calls, chats and emails are dealt with effectively and efficiently. To achieve this, managers need to be able to monitor activity and communicate to adjust performance, wherever agents are based.
The answer lies in understanding the motivations and influences that affect people working remotely and in using technology to provide visibility, collaboration, and assistance to frontline employees and managers.
As a side note to this blog, we explored how to measure and manage agent performance, wherever they work, in our recent Directors Club virtual panel discussion.
Panellists from key disciplines within SYKES offered their perspectives and experience on managing high standards of performance and excellence in customer service operations.