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Managing customer experience with a work-from-anywhere workforce

09 Oct 2020

Article by NICE president for Asia Pacific Darren Rushworth.

In the COVID-19 era, contact centres are looking for extreme business agility to compete effectively. Being able to move faster and respond to changing market dynamics has never been more critical. And, even though the threat from COVID-19 will eventually recede, new ways of working are unlikely to be going away.

According to a survey of 797 contact centre decision-makers conducted in April 2020, 70% are planning to keep more agents working from home after the outbreak, and 66% are planning to accelerate their move to the cloud.

The critical question that organisations need to answer is how they will maintain customer experience with a work-from-anywhere workforce. There are many factors affecting customer experience, including consistency; call control; demand spikes; connectivity; training; and responsiveness.

Cloud-based contact centres remove the need for contact centre agents to work in a central location and empowers them to work-from-anywhere.

Here are the four best practices to dramatically improve the customer experience.

Establish the work-from-anywhere foundation

Getting agents up and running is the first step. This includes ensuring the infrastructure is robust, that agents have appropriate devices, and that scripts and flows are modified to suit the new reality.

Adapt agent scheduling

Employees have different skill levels in different parts of customer experience delivery. For example, some people are excellent at customer retention, while others can sell more effectively. 

Understanding and mapping the right customer persona to the agent persona is vital for the best results. Where possible, streamline processes like approvals and meetings to avoid overwhelming agents with work that doesn’t directly contribute to the customer experience. 

In addition, flexibility is essential because it allows agents to focus on their core tasks. This lets contact centres manage service levels at an intraday level.

Manage agent performance

Keeping a close eye on quality controls is essential to give agents the coaching and feedback they need while maintaining positivity. Real-time dashboards are crucial, letting team leaders and supervisors understand exactly what’s happening and who needs help. 

While most agents are eager to perform well, there have been stories of agents calling themselves from a second phone, then putting the call on hold and leaving their desk for hours at a time. The right tools will flag this, letting managers act sooner to coach or discipline agents who are doing the wrong thing.

Communicate

Organisations need to communicate with agents more than they think they need to. Use multiple channels for communication, including phone, instant messaging and text to make sure it works for everyone. 

Set workspace and productivity expectations and get agents on board to provide exceptional customer experiences at every opportunity.

Given the ongoing and crucial importance of providing excellent customer experiences, it’s essential for contact centres to put the right technology and practices in place to support this, which requires a holistic approach that can be realised with the right cloud contact centre solution.