So You’ve Moved to a Virtual Contact Center, Now What?

Curious to know how your virtual contact center strategy is faring? We asked a panel of experts from top brands in Retail, SaaS and Business Process Outsourcing to share their learnings on shifting to working from home.

For businesses, recent events have placed great pressure on digital and virtual channels. Whether it’s driving sales, preserving customer experience, or maintaining business continuity, for many businesses, the contact center has become the only remaining point of customer interaction.

Contact centers have had to adapt to recent times and quickly transition to distributed work-from-home operations. This is no easy task, requiring significant and complex changes to processes, tools, and day-to-day operations.

On our recent webinar, we asked a panel of experts to share tips and best practices for making the transition to virtual contact centers. We were joined by panelists from a variety of industries: Retail (SleepNumber), SaaS (Intuit) and Business Process Outsourcing (TTEC). For most panelists, this is the first time they’ve had to operate virtual contact centers. Thankfully, they were willing to share some of their findings. Here are our key learnings and takeaways.

  1. Customers need your help more now, than ever. While many customers aren’t spending, those that are are doing so carefully. Customers are looking for agents to help them right-size to the best product for their current needs. Linda Vasquez from Intuit says, “Customers are telling us less and less what they want, and are taking the time to ensure every dollar they spend is for the best.” Every customer is going through a unique situation, so giving your agents the bandwidth to explore is important. Laurence Levin from SleepNumber said, “We measure average handle times, but we don’t hold our agents accountable to this because of unintended customer experience consequences.”
  2. The frontline needs resources. Whether this is access to leadership, improved knowledge centers for product and process information or local information about their region. In these times, don’t be afraid to invest in tools. Holden Olsen from TTEC says “We have a great employee communications team so our employees can have the most relevant and up to date information.” While each locale has different rules and regulations, it’s important centralize products and process information. Consistently communicating and pointing teams to easy-to-find central resource centers is key. Streamlining which channels are used for which types of information can be beneficial to agents and leadership alike. Linda mentions that she can now quantify the types of questions that frontlines are asking. Something that most contact centers lose sight of are the day-to-day questions that agents ask, so focusing certain channels to certain topics can identify areas to focus on when developing future training material.
  3. Put your people first. “Assume all positive intent,” says Laurence. “When our employees are passionate advocates of our brand, they create customers who became passionate about our brand.” Creating a culture that allows for growth and connection is important at a time like this. Gamification and recognition are paramount. “We have a gamification tool that allows agents and team leaders to acquire points that they can then turn into rewards. Points are earned from events like quality scores graded from customer interactions, to proactive solutions which turn our business problems into real fixes,” said Holden Olsen from TTEC. The team leader plays an important role in the contact center, sometimes even the role of life coach. “Pancakes and pajamas” is a fun new way that Intuit has allowed agents to connect on the weekends to learn how to cook and celebrate what they have going on in their lives.
  4. Technology helps. Maintain consistency by using auto AI, like Cresta’s real-time coaching to deliver meaningful suggestions to agents to keep them informed, on-message and performing at their best. Productivity shouldn’t wane by moving to an at-home virtual contact center. In fact “many businesses have seen an increase in in-chair occupancy with at-home solutions,” Holden mentioned. The key to growth is empowering the team through different means. Real-time dashboards to show improvements, voice analytics to provide qualitative and quantitative feedback, and “managing the mean” are all ways to empower your team. As businesses shift, so does the mean. It’s important to analyze these behaviors and trends to quickly uncover coaching opportunities.

With all the moving parts of a contact center, there is certainly no shortage of work to be done in this new virtual world.

We hope these insights from those who have already made the move to virtual contact centers prove helpful. We’d like to thank the panelists for their time and hard work. Their organizations are clearly in good hands.