In times of crisis, your organization might need to deploy remote call center workers rather than have them report to an office as usual. Whether it be in response to a crisis like COVID-19, or another event like a natural disaster or health crisis, remote staff can provide an efficient disaster recovery model. The advances in high-speed internet, voice over internet protocol (VoIP), and faster computers have made work from home a more achievable solution today than ever before.
However, enabling a remote worker requires much more than simply taking home a computer and a telephone. How can you ensure you’re supporting your remote agents and considering the technical aspects of telework? Here are 12 tips to help make sure you have all your bases covered.
Ways to manage remote agents
1. Consider check-ins, call logs, and daily reports
While you can’t call agents into your office or easily overhear their telephone calls, managers can put in place mandatory check-ins, updates from remote agents, or even the occasional quick text chat can help keep staff on task. For example, chat applications allow managers to be in contact with an agent at a moment’s notice, as well as track online presence. Collaboration software usually includes call logs and activity reports to allow managers to monitor daily activity.
2. Leverage quality assurance tools
Contact center software allows managers to monitor call logs, status reports, and call recordings. No one likes to micromanage or be micromanaged, but call recordings are a great way to train agents and ensure calls are being handled properly. For a more in-the-moment approach, call barging and silent listening are valuable tools. Managers can listen in real-time and offer suggestions via chat. This is a great hands-on approach to support remote agents.
Managers can also train agents virtually, join live calls, or even provide silent coaching to ensure agents are providing a consistent level of service. Some call recording software provides scoring and screen capture to further enhance the training experience.
3. Examine your analytics
With call logs, managers can review the wealth of data that contact center solutions provide such as when, how long, and how many calls agents are processing. These tools also allow managers to see when agents are logged in, if they’re idle, and how long it takes an agent handle a call.
4. Use remote access and screen sharing
For more in-depth monitoring and support, remote access and screen sharing act as the virtual counter-part to strolling through the office and observing agent activity in real time. Remote access to technical support is also essential to a successful remote deployment.
5. Remember your real-time dashboard
Real-time dashboards make it easy to monitor agent activity. Chances are, you’re using this today and with remote workers this is even more helpful to stay in tune with agent performance.
6. Adhere to quality assurance and compliance
Stay engaged with your agents, enhance security in the network, and comply with any regulations regarding the ability to record calls, encrypt your communications, and adhere to any government regulations.
Technical considerations to support remote agents
7. Prepare the workspace
Does the remote environment provide adequate space, electricity, and internet connectivity for a computer and the associated hardware? Is the environment quiet and does it provide privacy to meet confidentiality concerns?
8. Have the right internet capabilities
Internet speed and reliability are crucial to a successful remote deployment of contact center software. A dedicated business-class internet connection is recommended, as many critical notification and telephone integrations are intolerant of latency. Satellite or 3G/4G wireless networks will not provide an adequate level of service. The remote agent network should be separate from the personal network to prevent other household traffic from interfering with bandwidth.
9. Check the computer
It’s necessary for the remote agent hardware and software to be setup, tested, and validated in-house prior to delivering them to the remote site. It’s also important to consider who will connect, test, and validate the system once delivered to the remote location.
Ensure the personal computer your remote agent will use meets the minimum requirements of your software. Don’t forget to investigate monitor dimensions that differ from your current configurations. If printing is required, ensure your staff have the right tools.
10. How’s the VPN connection?
Will the VPN connection require routers or other network hardware to be placed at the remote location?
11. Ask yourself these questions about telephony
- Does your telephone system provide a remote option that is compatible with your contact center software?
- Will the remote telephone be a physical or soft phone?
- If using a soft phone, will it support the same number of phone lines as the phone currently configured for your software?
- Is your headset compatible with a soft phone?
- Is all your software you use compatible?
12. Don’t forget these other technical considerations
- What’s your IT policy for remote workers?
- How does IT support remote hardware?
- If you’re using paper on-call schedules, how will this need to change?
- How will you answer separate telephones dedicated to other processes, such as code lines?
- How will you monitor alarm panels (nurse call, medical gas, etc.)?
- Will this impact your overhead announcements?
- Do you need to consider how to manage processes that require a physical presence, such as swapping pager devices?
Remote agents are a great way to quickly establish a disaster recovery/crisis response office and maintain a fully staffed team. The tools mentioned above help to ensure a high quality of service level and maintain business continuity.