Measure Success: Ensure CX Thrives When Agents Work From Home
Companies, consumers, and the stock market -- all are experiencing the anxiety associated with unpredictable events. In this time of disquiet, it’s more important than ever to give our customers confidence we can continue to support them and deliver a consistent customer experience (CX) -- Gartner tells us “81% of companies say they compete mostly or completely on the basis of CX.”
As a contact center leader, responding to customers rapidly and completely is what you do. The challenge at hand is this: continue to provide the exemplary level of service customers expect, regardless of location. To ensure uninterrupted support, that may mean you are scrambling to enable agents to work from home. If so, see our blog “How to Start a Home Agent Program” for a quick tutorial on the topics you’ll need to address.
Now let's look at how you will measure the success of your home-based contact center. These topics will guide your planning.
What are the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) or metrics?
And, do the KPIs you measure today change with a remote workforce? The answer should be “no.” If the answer is “yes” or you are uncertain, you run the risk of providing inconsistent service to customers, among a variety of other issues. I recommend reassessing whether you are measuring the “right” metrics in your contact center. This blog "What Contact Center Metrics Matter" will help you get started.
Are the same rules in place?
When agents work from home, be sure they’re aware that the need to meet critical contact center (as well as individual) KPIs is unchanged. Are there any variations in your expectations? Let your workforce know.
Agents may expect more flexibility -- but can you give them that flexibility and still meet your metrics? The old saying “out of sight, out of mind” may be a subconscious thought in your agents' minds, making schedule adherence a challenge. Make it clear to everyone that the same managing/reporting tools are used regardless of where they’re physically located. Tempted to toss in a load of laundry or unload the dishwasher? Real-time reports and monitoring will show when they’re not on the job. Give agents visibility into their own metrics for self-accountability; then they can see the detrimental impact of short, unscheduled breaks on both customers and team members.
Clearly set expectations for the work environment. Life happens: dogs bark, kids come charging home from school, the doorbell rings. The goal is to find a spot that eliminates background noises to the extent possible. If you’ve asked agents to work from home for business continuity, you may have to be a bit more flexible. Nevertheless, urge them to work from an area best suited for conveying a professional image.
What if they need help with a customer inquiry? When a supervisor/manager or other expert is no longer within walking distance, urge them to use tools like Expert Connect to get answers immediately.
How will you monitor and manage?
Fortunately, you can use the same real-time reports and historical analytics to stay on track regardless of where the team is physically located. Some of these capabilities become more important, though, when agents are out of your line of sight. For example, you want:
- Live monitoring that gives visibility into agent desktops, whether they’re on a call or not.
- Robust customizable reports and dashboards to ensure out-of-sight is NOT out-of-mind.
- Real-time alerts (visual and/or audible) that flag when you’re in danger of missing metrics.
When you hold your regular weekly meetings with agents, schedule the calls as video meetings. What do you see? If chaos reigns in your agent’s environment, it’s a pretty sure bet that’s what your customers are experiencing too.
What other tools that can help?
If your contact center is small to mid-sized, you may not be using valuable workforce engagement management tools like Quality Management, Workforce Management, and Speech Analytics because you considered them unaffordable. We recently wrote an ebook that dispels this and other myths. Historically, they truly were unaffordable for many. When those solutions were premises-based, the up-front purchase and installation costs were prohibitive. That’s no longer the case. Flash forward to cloud-based solutions such as 8x8 Contact Center and you eliminate the tens of thousands of dollars of purchase and installation costs, with little to no start-up charges. That means these tools are now attainable for companies of all sizes.
These applications are especially helpful with a remote workforce. Did an agent log in late, leave early, or take unscheduled breaks? Workforce Management gives you an at-a-glance notification of schedule exceptions. Does an agent need to shift schedules? Easily find another agent to cover the gap. Quality Management enables you to set easily build assessment forms, score interactions, and track the progress of every agent to optimize performance.
Hopefully, work-from-home agents give customers the same care and respect as if you were within earshot of them in the contact center. If that’s not the case, Speech Analytics shows the exceptions. For example, you can:
- Filter to the top what needs your attention, since you can’t walk through the contact center.
- Easily search for problematic phrases or calls with negative emotions.
- Tag the applicable conversation segment and send the agent notification directly; specific examples and annotations help them fine-tune performance.
- Look for role-model examples to share with other agents for training purposes.
The bottom line is this. If you need to quickly transition your contact center to work from home to provide business continuity, managing your workforce need not be an added anxiety. With the tools at your disposal and the right metrics and dashboards to monitor performance, it’s ready, set, go. You’re prepared to respond quickly and successfully, ensuring you meet business goals without missing a beat.