The way we work is changing. The pandemic forced businesses to adopt a remote way of working, and some adapted faster and more effectively than others.
Despite the change, customer expectations have largely remained the same. Organisations have made the transition to virtual working overnight and customer support teams have done so while still responding to inquiries. While it’s crucial businesses continue to serve their customers in a timely fashion, now is the time to put the focus on supporting your remote call centre agents.
Maintain Communication and Support
Remote work strategist Laurel Farrer believes it normally takes six to 12 weeks to smoothly transition from on-site to remote work. But companies weren't afforded that kind of time, and the change was rapid. However, now that companies have been settled into this 'new normal' for a year, it's time to start asking how we can make things better.
As part of the transition to remote working, organisations have had to quickly scramble to try and replicate a workplace culture even when employees are apart. For nearly every employee, they’ve lost that face-to-face interaction they could once rely on.
It’s never been more important for managers to support their agents and keep them engaged in their work. Working remotely is tough but working remotely as part of a customer support team presents its own set of unique challenges. Communication is always vital in business, but now it’s critical to keeping everyone involved and adequately supported in their customer-facing roles.
By keeping your remote call centre agents engaged and happy, they can then do the same for your customers.
Why Call Centre Customer Service is Vital
The modern call centre is designed to deal with the digital customer, whose expectations are evolving in line with technology. Voice interactions are expected to drop from 64% to 47%, and instead chat and messaging interactions are expected to rise by 16%.
Call centres are a key part of maintaining and offering an omnichannel service to customers and provide one of the major touchpoints for customers starting their journey.
Advances in technology mean your business never has to close, and round-the-clock customer service is very real – and often expected – in today’s digital age. It's up to your call centre agents to facilitate queries and deliver brilliant customer experiences.
6 Strategies to Keep Remote Agents Engaged
Engagement is all about communication and making sure remote employees feel and understand their worth. Displaced employees still need to feel that they're contributing to business goals and that their work is having an impact.
Diversifying your communications channels helps to keep things fresh and reduces burnout. It’s a challenge to keep agent engagement levels sustainable, especially during the current climate but it just requires a concerted effort from all involved. Here are a few unique methods to try.
1. Put the focus on communication
Remote workers don't have an office environment to cultivate communication. It’s easy for remote agents to feel isolated or cut off from the rest of the business, especially if they haven’t heard from anyone in a while. Posting daily messages and scheduling regular calls with your team keeps them involved with the daily workings of the business.
Communication doesn’t need to be limited to necessary video meetings. Microsoft Teams is a great platform for facilitating cross-business chatter, work-related or otherwise. It’s considerably quicker, easier, and more efficient than communicating via email. Digital recognition of your remote agents is also a great way of encouraging engagement but also keeping those lines of communication open between your team members.
2. Build teams
Speaking of communication, forging teams between disparate members of your workforce helps improve collaboration and bring otherwise remote staff together. Teams can help people to build relationships through face-to-face interaction, even if it's via video call.
3. Set clear expectations
Help your remote agents focus their day by setting clear expectations. Engage in discussions about performance expectations, both as individuals, and in a team, so your remote agents understand they’re working as part of a collective – even when it doesn’t always feel that way. Employees who understand the big picture within their organisation are empowered to understand how their work as individuals contributes overall.
4. Use video software for meetings, but also check-ins
Video software such as Mitel MiCollab is great for those necessary meetings, but it can also be used in a way that encourages engagement and support. Remote agents are missing out on vital face-to-face communication with their colleagues and video software helps to alleviate that.
This helps to create a culture of connection throughout your workforce – for example, your agents get together for a virtual ‘check-in’ over lunch. This helps to ease some of the tension of the current climate and restore a sense of normality to the day for agents otherwise working alone.
5. Try to recreate an inclusive virtual working environment
Try to give employees that sense of office participation. Alongside effective communication and expectations, remote agents need to interact with people across the organisation.
You can make these structured activities that are refined with constant feedback. But sometimes, all you need to do is give people permission and space to interact naturally. Getting employees to participate in the business in a way that’s different from their work can help keep them engaged with the organisation as a whole.
6. Support your team with everything they need
Times are different. Understanding unique needs and requirements of your remote working employees is crucial to being able to them support them. Show employees that you’re there for them – collate their feedback on how they’re feeling and how they feel work is progressing for them with weekly surveys. Or show them your appreciation with a tailored gift. The focus here is on making sure your employee not only feels they have everything they need to do their job, but that they understand why it’s important that they do.
The Right Technology to Deliver Great Customer Experiences
At Olive, we’re able to make life easier for your remote call centre agents. Our Cloud Managed Service Platform brings together your workforce and helps them remain engaged with the business and its overarching, long-term goals.
Customer demands are changing, even now. We deliver the tools and the expertise to create an environment for your agents that helps them flourish. Our platform connects your workforce through the cloud and empowers them to deliver brilliant customer experiences.