How to maintain business continuity for your contact centre workforce during Covid-19

Matt McConnell is CEO of Intradiem.

First and foremost, our thoughts go out to everyone impacted by the virus. Like many other businesses – we have shifted to a “work-from home” model for the time being, and we believe that these unprecedented challenges will dramatically shift the way many businesses work in the future, long after the passing of this crisis.

A majority of companies operating contact centres are not currently set up to properly manage a remote or at-home agent workforce. Or, they have been slow to scale to these models. The current Covid-19 pandemic demonstrates that being able to manage a remote workforce is critical. As a result, many companies are scrambling to deal with this crisis as they try to move their contact centre operations to a remote model.

Workforce automation provides the foundation for remote contact centre models. The solution enables you to effectively engage and manage your contact centre employees when your managers cannot be physically present. Think of it as having an automated manager—for every single agent — that is 100 percent ready and available to manage a workforce, regardless of their location. This automated manager is plugged into all systems, is aware of every changing condition and can efficiently guide every agent through each second of the day, 24 hours a day. For managers who are not accustomed to managing 15 to 18 agents working at home, an automated manager keeps agents connected and engaged while helping with productivity.

In order to optimise call centre operations and effectively monitor, manage performance, and engage your remote agents, you need to be able to “clone” your best supervisor and have one to assist every agent. To accomplish that, you need an automation solution that can process high volumes of contact centre data in real-time.

Real-time communications and training can be dynamically delivered to agents’ desktops without impacting service levels. Here are a few examples of what you can do:

  • Deliver critical communications (e.g., brief leadership videos or emails explaining the latest company updates and protocols)
  • Cross train agents to ensure coverage and support in multiple areas · Continue with agent development and coaching plans to stay connected to a remote workforce and further your agent engagement initiatives.

Optimising management of remote agents is when supervisor and managers are not physically present. Workforce automation helps you efficiently:

  • Monitor service levels and alert agents to move to a ready state to take calls when volume spikes
  • Monitor volume across channels and alert agents to move to the high-volume channel
  • Control handle time during high volume
  • Optimise schedule adherence to keep agents on track.

Automation will become even more critical as contact centres evolve from “tethered” remote models (where remote agents remain in close proximity to facilities and return frequently for training, coaching and other activities) to true virtual work from home models, where agents are geographically dispersed and spend 100% of their time in their home office.

With workforce automation, companies can enable remote agents to be as productive as if they were sitting at their stations within your center. This virus is just one example of how “the unexpected” can wreak havoc on our businesses and our way of life.

In times of unprecedented change, organisations that move quickly to deploy critical technologies like workforce automation can take current challenges like these and reform operations into a sustainable, long-term competitive advantage.

Photo by Alexander Andrews on Unsplash

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