Companies with no prior provision for work-at-home (WAH) got their customer service teams home quickly, but compromises had to be made to achieve this.

After all, it’s one thing to move people out of the building and onto their home broadband to work at home, but what was given up along the way?

Some businesses, for example, managed to get their agents working remotely, but they have been unable to handle phone calls, meaning that customers could only email or chat. And, while chat and messaging offer quick responses, they aren’t quite the same as picking up the phone and being reassured through hearing a real, human voice on the other end of it.

Chat usually accounts for approximately 10% of interactions and, while email figures are higher, phone overwhelmingly remains the core customer service communication channel. If that channel is not available, customers are left with the options they view as second best.

So, one of the major compromises that has been made, in the short term at least, is that customers aren’t offered the full range of communication options normally available.

However, tools are available to maintain the same level of service in a work-at-home environment. Companies across the world use them, and they work. The issue is that businesses that have discounted WAH as an option, don’t have these tools available.

In another area of perceived compromise, many companies have avoided home-based support, citing that it’s less secure than in-centre operations. In the current scenario, they’ve compromised by sending people home as securely as they can but are relaxing their usual in-centre standards.

Again, this need not be a compromise. Using the right tools and methods, security standards can be very tight, even as agents work at home, but businesses need the tools and insights in place as they move forward.

Finally, internal communication and employee support is an area businesses have struggled with over the past few weeks, and the impact is still to be fully felt. When an agent needs to speak to their team leader, a subject specialist, or IT support, doing this is not as simple as raising their hand or finding an individual nearby. Communications can’t work the same way as in a building due to the physical distance involved, but they can still work very effectively – managers just need to understand the differences and have right tools to enable them.

So, while many companies have made compromises to get their customer service teams home, quickly and with very little notice, this doesn’t mean work-at-home as a concept requires compromise. Far from it.

To eliminate compromises, customer service leaders must decide whether work-at-home is to become a feature of their future model. And, if it’s a “yes”, they are next faced with a make or buy decision to either invest in a relationship with the right partner, or build what they need for themselves. Without the right experience, a trusted partner will provide resources and experience to guarantee success.

To find out more about avoiding compromises when introducing work-at-home, get in touch.

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