Where Does My Call Center Go From Here? Preparing for Post COVID-19
If you feel your call center is not where you need it to be, if you’re not comfortable with your at-home plan, or if this type of event happens again, are you feeling uneasy that you will be ready? This pandemic has been a worst-case scenario for a lot of people and companies, meaning after this is over and the dust has settled, you need to be responsive to what COULD happen next. The world is giving everyone a one time only get-out-of-jail-free card, but it’s not going to be so forgiving next time.
You NEED To Be In The Cloud
There are no more excuses for not being in the Cloud. You need to be able to be flexible for your customers. The largest companies in the world are now in the Cloud and with today’s technology, security is not an excuse anymore. You need to have the telephony platform redundancy to have access to premise-based as well as at-home work options. As long as you have the internet, your agents should be able to work from home. If you are not in the cloud, you are risking the life of your call center by not having that security net if another pandemic-like event were to happen.
Importance of the Internet
The internet is no longer a privilege, it’s a necessity. Have a plan for any agents that do not have internet at home. Internet is the lifeline to a call center, and it’s been that way for a while but it’s taking a larger impact. As 5G expands, I think there will be new achievements we’ll be able to reach in terms of connectivity and security.
Redundancy In Your Call Center
Redundancy in the call center isn’t just having a generator or having two or three pipes of internet coming in. Have fully redundant operation. That includes: additional servers, backing up absolutely everything, and have a real and legitimate disaster recovery plan. I’ll admit, we didn’t have an as fleshed-out DRP as what was necessary for the time, but it is so vitally important that you don’t get caught without one. Disaster Recovery takes business continuity a whole other step forward. Have a plan and articulate it on paper. For bonus points: document your transition.
Optimizing for Call Center Technology
Speech analytics become much more important in the at-home environment when you’re not physically with your agents. You all know that I am a huge advocate for speech analytics, but realistically speaking, with an at-home force you can’t walk up and down your call center aisles and sit down individually with your agents. You need to reach out, listen more, monitor more, and beef up QA. There are too many variables for at-home workers. They have kids, pets, spouses, plenty of other distractions. This is why speech analytics and QA become so much more important because it’s a way to monitor how your conversations are going without having to physically be there. While you’re at it, take a look at your dashboards, make sure that they’re set up and optimized for real-time.
Check in on your reps. While some reps say they love working from home, there’s a lot of them that think it’s lonely and boring. They liked the camaraderie, they liked the crosstalk, they played games, and their friends were there. So, double the amount of communication you have with your agents. Expand one-on-one communication, play games remotely, video chat, send an IM. Keep in touch more, because it’s harder to.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: you are only as strong as your middle management. Make sure you thank them for the work they are doing and train them for following procedures and giving procedures. Make sure your team is up to the task of at-home work and management, which is more touchpoints, looking at data more, and connecting with their agents more. You cannot do this on your own. I appreciate your management.
For those of you with internal call centers, you might not be able to accomplish all of this. Your company makes a product or hosts a service, customer support may not be a strong suit. Outsourcing is going to take a much larger role than it is now, and even if you have an internal call center (and coming back to that redundancy topic), also outsourcing, so that if this kind of thing happens again, you’re prepared. It is most important to always be thinking about what can be done to benefit the agent, the client, and the customer.