Managing a contact center team is a challenge at the best of times. If your contact center hasn’t been driven remote by the pandemic, it will likely feel the impact soon — so prepare to go remote now.
Besides the obvious technical issues, this presents to those still working on legacy systems, employees are getting more and more worried for their health, pointing the contact center conditions as perfect for transmission of the virus.
Managing Remote Contact Center Agents
Although there are a lot of similarities, there are also a great many differences between managing a team, and managing a remote team — especially a contact center team!
How do you as a call center manager help your team transition from office to home, while keeping performance on track and dealing with a wave of newly-remote customers?
Here are 5 tips on managing your virtual call center team.
1. Set Clear Expectations with Your Virtual Support Team
One thing that doesn’t change when managing your contact center team remotely is the need for clear goal-setting.
Set you and your team up for success by making sure everyone is in agreement about their goals and the reasons behind them — and as well as your expectations about their new environment. And set some specific deadlines.
Set new goals together
Whether you’ve been experiencing Coronavirus-related call spikes or not, changing your team’s working environment will impact their ability to provide your customers with support.
Do what you can to assess that impact, and agree on the team’s new KPIs together. It’s important to make sure every agent is happy with their goals and believes in their ability to meet them easily.The truth is — even if your contact center hasn't been impacted by the coronavirus outbreak, it will be soon. #cctr #coronavirus #remoteworking Click To Tweet
This may mean setting new time-slots, getting new equipment set-up, or changing some of your metrics to account for the changes to your contact center.
Focus on results
It can be stressful for some managers to not see their agents actually working. If this is you make sure you have an agreed-up way of telling if they actually are making themselves available for calls
Make sure your KPIs are focused on actually relevant business goals and you don’t start throwing in random activity-monitoring ones that could actually harm productivity.
Trust your agents a little bit. It’s still micromanaging if you’re constantly watching, even if you’re not there.
Be flexible with your expectations
One thing that shouldn’t be forgotten is setting your expectations for things meetings, timeliness, Zoom background hilarity, and any other frequent business process.It's still micromanaging if you're constantly watching, even if you're not physically there. Trust your agents a little bit. #cctr #coronavirus #remoteworking Click To Tweet
If you’re expecting everyone to be reachable on Slack or Email in a certain amount of time, make sure everyone is aware of that and is able to meet that expectation.
But do remember that working from home — especially with many families now confined together — can present a lot of new challenges. Talk to your agents about their personal challenges and what you can do to alleviate them.
Something that we’ve all probably noticed a lot more of scope or ‘schedule’ creep. It can actually be very difficult to stop working from home at times; do the best you can to help your team maintain a work-life balance.
2. Communicate Constantly with Your Remote Support Agents
Great communication is good practice at any time, but definitely even more so now. Not only does it keep you on the same page day-to-day, it can also help to mitigate some of the loneliness that can creep in with working from home.
It’s easy to forget all the little micro-conversations we have throughout the day — both personal and business-related — that all add up towards making your company’s culture.It's easy to forget all the little micro-conversations we have throughout the day — both personal and business-related — that all add up towards making your company's culture. #cctr #coronavirus #remoteworking Click To Tweet
Remote teams need even more ‘team-building’ opportunities than physical teams. Schedule ‘remote happy hours’ so your agents have the opportunity to connect with colleagues and talk through how things are going.
Most businesses have remembered to communicate with their customers, but you’re going to have to make some changes to effectively communicate with your team during a crisis.
3. Embrace Remote Contact Center Management Technology
Besides navigating the minefield of video meeting software out there, we’ve all bumped into more than our fair share of technical issues over the last couple of weeks.
Although these are to be expected, they’re compounded when you’re trying out several new things at once, in your office bedroom, with your 2-year old wrapped around your legs.
Make sure your agents have everything they need to do the job properly, even if that’s just a little more flexibility on when they log in.
You may need to explore new tools or software to help your agents handle their workload better, as many contact centers are now doing; these could also help with QA, training, and communication that may otherwise have been done in the office.
And you’ll be using remote working and communication-specific tools like video conferencing & Slack a LOT more than normal, so take your time to find the right one for your team.Moving your team remote means using tools like video conferencing & Slack a LOT more than normal, so take your time to find the right one for your team. #cctr #coronavirus #remoteworking Click To Tweet
4. Have Some Fun in Your Virtual Office
Working from home can be a mixed bag, so it’s important to keep things light and fun whenever possible. People will miss their team more than you realize, and the lack of a commute can sometimes make the lines between work and home very blurry.
Find some virtual versions of the things you would normally do as a team or with colleagues, such as coffee breaks, after work drinks, Friday happy hours, and — if you’re feeling up to it logistically — even a pizza party!
We miss our work family at Fonolo, and so we’ve scheduled a video chat over coffee every morning to help to bookend our day and have a chat as we normally would. We’ve also added a games party on Friday evenings to wrap up the week with a bit of fun. You could even work in some virtual team-building activities.
5. Get Virtually Constant Feedback
Finally, get constant feedback from start to finish. Get feedback from your team on how they’re finding things and ways to improve, including the technology that you’re using.
Is it doing the job it’s supposed to? Is it helping our hindering your remote contact center team? Listen to your team’s feedback; this is new ground for most people, so striking out on your own is likely to end badly.
The other way to monitor your agents is through your customers. Get constant feedback from your customers to help you find areas where things are breaking or the processes need to be better adapted to a remote working team.