Virtual Call Centers: Is your work-at-home arrangement a competitive advantage?
As we move toward a post-pandemic world, customer experience professionals may be evaluating their current remote call center teams. With staff working at home for their safety during the pandemic, businesses were forced to adopt cloud-based models, while quickly hiring and training new staff remotely as demand surged.
This headlong dive into digital transformation was an eye-opening shift for many organizations and, according to some experts, may become an industry norm. But as “ norms” overall slowly return – however different they may look – how viable is a work at home customer service team? Every company will have to evaluate whether their virtual call centers are truly sustainable and meeting the needs of both employees and customers. As they make these evaluations, they should also consider whether these new arrangements actually constitute a competitive edge.
Why maintain a virtual, work-at-home call center when you don’t need to?
There are many benefits.
There are many reasons to continue to allow employees to stay at home once your organization has hit its stride with its new arrangements. Some of these new benefits and opportunities include
- Retention: In markets where there’s competition for talent, the work from home option compromises a tremendous benefit and could make all the difference in terms of retaining (and attracting) talent. Given the expense and challenges of hiring and training new staff, this benefit alone makes a virtual call center worthy of serious consideration.
- Office space: Along the same lines, allowing call center employees to work from home also frees up office space for more full-time employees across the organization. If remote staff is performing well in your call center, the space now available can be allocated to other teams that require staff to be onsite. Companies that don’t own their buildings can cut the amount of space they rent, thereby reducing facility expenses.
- Access to new talent: Having a virtual call center also means you can seek talent outside your local area. Potential employees from areas beyond a comfortable commute can now enter the talent pool, allowing you to seek more experienced and qualified team members regardless of where they live. In a competitive job market and in roles that frequently see high turnover, finding a just-right fit for every open role is critically important. Expanding recruiting targets may dramatically improve your odds for long-term success.
- Business continuity: If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s to be prepared for the unexpected. Having a remote workforce makes your business more resilient and positioned to weather nearly any kind of disaster. Situations like school closures, mild illness, mass transportation delays or highway closures, which might have negatively affected attendance in the past, don’t have any impact at all when your team is working from home.
All of these elements combine to create a unique competitive advantage for the company that can successfully build their virtual call center. Even more importantly, releasing call center operations from the restrictions of geography, size, space, and other costs allows it to scale easily to stay in lockstep with broader company growth.
If you’re going to do it, do it right.
While there are many advantages to having agents work at home for the long term, it’s not an endeavor to be taken lightly. There are many important capabilities to consider in terms of your organization’s readiness, and commitment to a work at home team. These include, but are not limited to:
- Security: Do you have all the tools you need to keep client data safe? Is your team trained to understand the importance of security?
- Technology: Does your business have the infrastructure in place to support a remote call center? Does the at-home team have the tools and resources they need for success?
- Operations: Are the right people and ratios in place, and is there accessible support for the remote team?
- Employee engagement: How is your team staying connected to the company – and to each other – as they work at home? How are you keeping them motivated and engaged?
- Training and quality: Are you prepared to train new team members remotely – and keep the skills of your current team sharp?
There are many other factors to consider, and Eventus Group can help you determine your organization’s level of maturity with regard to a virtual call center. We’ve developed the Core 64 focus areas that every company should know and understand in order to build and sustain a successful virtual call center. Contact us to learn more about this approach, and how you can achieve success in the “new normal.”
It can be hard to fathom a life without customer service in it. Before remote desktop support, live chat and other contact center solutions, there were complex phone trees and outsourced call centers and before that there were buggy IVR systems and telephone switchboards connecting you to the store you purchased the product from.