Transitioning an on-campus contact center program into a work-from-home (WFH) agent model requires many key considerations. Whether in a time of crisis (such as the current global pandemic) or simply as a strategic business decision, work-from-home agent models are changing the landscape of the contact center industry.
Our typical work-from-home model operates as a hub-and-spoke, with agents receiving training and orientation at one of our campuses, and then taking their equipment home with them to begin their remote agent experience. In light of the current situation, not only have we transitioned our on-campus contact center agents to an at-home model, we have also implemented virtual recruiting, orientation, and training to ensure our new WFH agents receive the guidance they need to succeed.
Here are a few key tips we use to ensure our Intouch@Home agents feel supported and connected to the culture of our campuses while they work remotely from their own homes.
Ensure agents have the proper equipment sent to them, as well as thorough step-by-step instructions for a successful set-up. Not only does this provide a positive first experience with the company, it also frees up our tech team to handle bigger IT challenges.
If agents use their own equipment, we leverage security tests to ensure that each agent’s computer has the capability to perform the work, with appropriate security measures in place, including PCI compliance. This “bring your own device” setup can be activated very quickly due to the efficient check of remote hardware.
Tech teams must be able to provide support in a virtual environment instead of face-to-face, including the use of screen sharing to show agents how to fix issues as they arise.
Enabling Virtual Private Network (VPN) connectivity is another crucial step. To secure VPNs for at-home agents, we leverage a two-factor authentication on the VPN via an RSA key.
Additional technology aspects that must be in place include having cloud-based software, communication tools for agents and leaders, a flexible scheduling system for agents, and ensuring agents have hard-wired broadband internet access.
For new agents beginning their Intouch@Home journey, we deliver a virtual training curriculum, leveraging video conferencing and pre-recorded videos to ensure our new team members have a seamless training and orientation experience.
A successful WFH model involves clear communication of instructions and methodologies to ensure agents are receiving coaching and personal interactions that they would experience at our campuses.
At-home agent communication includes meeting opportunities for agents to connect with each other virtually, much like they would on a break at work. It also includes one-on-one coaching with leadership staff via video conference. Being able to experience positive interactions with co-workers can help improve at-home employee satisfaction, keeping these employees motivated.
Engaging at-home agents can be challenging, but there are many ways to convey the 24-7 Intouch culture to our agents, even from a distance.
We provide our agents with best practices for a productive WFH environment. This includes being in a quiet area, using headsets, and ensuring they are comfortable.
For new team members, our Intouch@Home experience ensures they are integrated early into our company culture. With company swag, FAQ documents, and a few finishing touches for their at-home workspaces, our WFH agents feel an immediate connection to our company and the brands we work with.
Technology is another way we keep agents engaged with our workplace culture. Through our Superpunch application, agents can manage their schedule, receive push notifications for shift reminders, and ask any questions they have to our “Answers” platform. This keeps agents connected to the culture and to other employees, even when working remotely.
Customer service is at the core of our business. We provide the same level of quality service to our agents as they do to our brands’ customers. We leverage an internal WFH support team as the main point of contact for at-home agents to ask questions about payroll, IT, and everything in between. This Tier 1 support team can escalate problems as necessary to the appropriate teams.
Although the growing need for work-from-home has resulted from the current global situation, WFH agent models are here to stay, and will continue to develop. A work-from-home model isn’t a perfect fit for all programs, but for many brands, this will be a viable solution moving forward. With the obvious benefit of being able to scale your global program quickly and adding an extra layer of business continuity and redundancy, along with agents having more flexibility, we have seen the positive impact a WFH model has on decreasing turnover, increasing morale, and improving productivity.
WFH solutions also enable greater language capabilities, as we source from a larger talent pool rather than being confined to a small region near our brick and mortar campuses. Given the benefit from a business continuity perspective, more brands are choosing to stay nimble by implementing a hybrid model with a certain percentage of customer service agents working from home at all times, while a portion remains in the brick and mortar contact center.
At the end of the day, no matter where our agents are working from, taking care of customers will remain the number one priority. By leveraging technology for creative communication methods and creating a work-from home culture, at-home agent models will continue to revolutionize the contact center industry.
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