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March 30, 2020

When contact changes: Our five lessons from transitioning to remote contact centers

As the world unites to slow the spread of COVID-19, businesses are stepping up to play their part. They have shut down physical offices and store-fronts and instituted work-from-home (WFH) policies to keep citizens and employees safe. While this is clearly the right thing to do, the shift to remote work and virtual channels has significant implications for businesses. This is particularly true for contact centers.

From airlines to retail to healthcare, customers are desperate for support and information as they figure out how to navigate this new reality. Now more than ever, businesses are trying to deliver consistency in a world that is changing every day. We have been in close contact with customers and prospects regarding their contact center operations and we’re finding that many contact centers have, or are intending, to close their physical contact center operation and move to a virtual WFH solution.

This is the right thing to do, but it creates a handful of challenges. In terms of demand, closing retail shops puts a greater load on virtual channels, like call and chats. In terms of supply, having agents who are dormant or working-from-home reduces contact center throughput and capacity. The increased demand coupled with the limited supply makes it absolutely critical that remote contact centers are able to deliver a high-quality virtual experience.

However, creating an experience that aligns with what customers have come to expect from the in-store experience is difficult. It requires delivering a consistent message and experience, conducting quality control and coaching in a distributed environment, and understanding contact center metrics. Ultimately, companies are looking to minimize the impact that the virus will have on their business, keep the customer experience consistent, and support agents in their day-to-day lives.

When transitioning to a remote contact center, here are 5 things to consider.

  1. Be transparent. While you want to minimize the impact on the customer experience, practice transparency when appropriate. The goal is to make the transition as seamless as possible. Customers understand that operations have shifted in light of recent events, but notifying them of revised operations will help keep customer expectations at bay.  Consider additional language in your IVR or Pre-Chat alerts.
  2. Maintain quality and compliance. A virtual contact center should adhere to the same standards as a physical one. Reporting and communication are key and easy to lose sight of, but they are the backbone of success for any contact center, especially virtual.
  3. Deliver consistent, tailored messaging across all interactions. Arm agents for success by equipping them with the tools they need to be successful.
  4. Understand what’s going well and where there’s room for improvement. Consider daily war-rooms for each team to join to report activities, educate themselves on current initiatives, and keep in contact with one another. Mental-health and connection to people is important and war-rooms provide a quick and easy way to accomplish these tasks. Plus, it allows for cultural-building activities like kudos sharing!
  5. And finally, have empathy and patience for your agents. Many of your employees are balancing more than just work responsibilities.  They are likely worried about the health and safety of their loved ones. And if they are parents, they are responsible for educating and entertaining their kids while schools are closed.

Cresta is here to support businesses as they make the transition to remote contract centers. We offer an AI-based solution that reduces the need for in-house mentoring and supervision. With real-time coaching, companies like Intuit and Cox Communications are able to handle 2X their daily chat volume and increase revenues by 12%. Our engineers can tailor the model to your business and ensure your agents have the expertise and support to handle whatever comes their way.

In these unprecedented and frightening times, contact center agents are on the front lines of dealing with the crisis. At Cresta, our mission is to put them in the best position possible to succeed.