2020. 04. 03.
Who will handle the calls during the pandemic? Here’s how thousands of call operators could work remotely
When it’s about customer service center, we commonly think of an enormous open office, packed with workstations and hundreds of people being busy. However, the same people could do the same job even from home. Introducing remote work can be a smart solution, not only to control the corona virus, but also to avoid current trends of redundancies. Not only in case of call centers, but for any enterprise that earns its living from customers.
Everyone just stay home!
Easier said than done, if our lives are set up for a location fixed work. In call centers and corporate customer services, several thousands of operators are picking up phones in these very moments to handle complaints, inform about opening hours of medical centers, extend insurances, or to help set up a wifi.
Their work is more needed than ever, while they are sitting within arm reach of each other in an office being heavily exposed to the threat of corona virus. The situation is not any better at smaller companies either, where a few customer service operators are fighting phone extensions only available from the office. Those who are not in the office anymore have been probably fired by the employer.
Anyway, phones have to be answered even in times of an epidemic.
Keep them in the office, or let them go? (Maybe none of them?)
The problem of course is well known by every corporation, but their responses vary in a wide range. Some companies just keep sending their employees in the office during the epidemic, and try to restrain the virus by strict hygiene instructions with more or less success.
News from overseas are sometimes quite disturbing. In a recent article of Slate magazine an employer, of a major US cable company reveals the situations at their customer service center caused by the ignorant management behavior. Other companies react to the current situation by immediate layoff, while a third group of enterprises decide to overcome the problem by reorganizing their staff to remote work .
We’re installing laptops for home office…
„We have initiated our Work from home program”, „100% of our operators work from home”, Our clients want us to send our colleagues to home office, and we are prepared to do so” – these are the answers contact center managers gave from the UK to Indonesia when replying to the question of ContactCenterWorld, asking how their company reacts to the epidemic.
These fortunate enterprises obviously have the appropriate technology to operate their call and contact center tasks remotely. However, before anyone would think it’s about a costly high-tech solution, let us reveal, that the quote in our subtitle comes from the manager of an Australian nonprofit charity organization. The solution is a virtual call center, accessible from a web browser. Not only is it not more expensive, but it is actually significantly cheaper than its on-premise, hardware-heavy version.
Call center is no longer a place, but a service
Virtual call center accessible from the web has a main advantage, that a new workstation, or even a thousands of them, can be created in a few moments, anywhere. All you need to provide your operator is a headset and a laptop or desktop and you can send them home with a corona-safe goodbye elbow bump. With this package they can start receiving and initiating calls in their living room via an everyday internet connection right away.
So call center is no longer a place, but a service, built on a cloud system that can be provided from anywhere. Customer center operators have an access to everything they need for their work right from their couch.
Meanwhile, supervisors sitting in another couch far away can coordinate their work seamlessly in real-time. They can set up call quees , can listen into conversations, or train new colleagues. In the virtual call center, every single performance measurement can be easily and precisely tracked, call reports can be downloaded instantly, recordings of calls are accessible in the cloud immediately.
However, all these are mere technological functions and features. What is more important, how all this can dismantle the usual frames of limiting working patterns within the customer service sector. The option of remote working primarily means and existential survival for the employee in times of epidemic, but it has other gains as well.
Home office provides both freedom and responsibility for coworkers and this kind of higher independence can contribute a never before seen motivation and momentum to work.
Sales and customer relationship are not location bound either
Virtual call centers platforms can do more than help customer service sector survive the crisis. They provide obvious alternative for enterprises busy with sales or services and for all those who don’t want to loose their customers during the pandemic. In the following period, companies are probably facing the most difficult times of their lives, and those giving up their customer relations first, will be looking into serious losses.
Call centers, utility providers, SSCs, insurance companies, banks, webshops and retailers have one single thing in common: they have to remain available for their clients at all times. Now more than ever. To achieve this, they need customer service staff, working from home safely, among the appropriate circumstances.
The coolest web shop in the world (of which we remembered in a long previous post with unconcealed enthusiasm) has already sent all their staff into home office. In its recent video Zappos promises that they will launch frequent HO broadcasts to demonstrate: work can be done this way easily.
Let’s follow and learn from them.