Working with virtual teams of agents in your contact center can sometimes mean you feel disconnected from them — or even worried that you aren’t able to properly manage their performance.
Those concerns might be why almost half of the contact center leaders in our 2022 remote work research study told us that they’re bringing agents back to the office this year.
Not being in the same space as your agents means you have to go the extra mile to keep team communication, training, and motivation running smoothly. Fortunately, there are solutions to help address your concerns, and we’ve got some suggestions for the best contact center software for remote workers.
Agents who felt their contact centers were handling remote work well told us they appreciated:
- Clear expectations
- Connection through tools like Slack
- Freedom to direct their own work without micromanagement
- Being engaged regularly and offered training opportunities
Agents who thought their contact centers had some improvements to make with regard to remote work say they wish they had:
- Frequent check-ins and more availability from managers
- Regular inclusion in company events
- More engagement and opportunities to collaborate as virtual teams
For their part, the managers in our study believe they’ve done a good job supporting their remote customer service teams. Sixty-four percent (64%) say their contact center has been extremely or very successful in supporting remote agents.
To maintain productive connections, contact centers in our study turned to remote work software options like Zoom (54%) and Slack (27%) during the last year. While these are great virtual meeting tools for communicating in and engaging as a group, you might need other technology in place for one-on-one coaching for individual agents.
Keep yourself available for regular check-ins with your agents by automating what you can. Look into a coaching solution, like Playvox Coaching, that creates learning plans for every agent based on their needs and allows them to communicate with you through closed-loop feedback.
When you seek out the right software for remote workers, you’ll take the manual work out of analyzing the training needs of each agent and building unique plans for them. You’ll then find yourself with more time to keep creating an engaging environment for your remote agents.
Agents in our study felt that well-designed and effectively delivered training was key to their success in remote work. Part of your job as a contact center leader is to meet agents where they are and deliver training in ways that work for them.
For instance, Lindsey J., an agent at a pharmaceutical company, told us she’s a visual learner, so she likes to review new material with self-paced videos followed by instructor-led training.
Karla D., another agent at a pharmaceutical company, says she learns best with simulated,
exercise-based training in which she can “play” with new software before using it live.
Managers and agents in our survey weren’t on the same page when it comes to training, with managers favoring instructor-led training and agents preferring to work with another CSR to learn the ropes of handling customer interactions.
No matter what training style you use in your contact center, you can support what agents learn in a classroom or from a more experienced agent with online learning. Remote work software options like Playvox Learning can help you ensure all your agents learn procedures the same way and hear a consistent message from you. It will also let you deliver targeted training to agents who need help in specific areas.
With so many retirees rejoining the workforce, you might be concerned that your Baby Boomer agents won’t enjoy learning online. But they’re already adept at it in their daily lives — 78% of Baby Boomers say they often turn to YouTube to learn something new. They’ll fit right in with your Millennial and Gen Z agents, who are digital natives and comfortable with digital learning.
Performance And Quality Management
Almost half the contact center managers in our study said they would be bringing agents back to an office in 2022. But 87% of agents said their job satisfaction had increased greatly or somewhat with remote work. So why the disconnect?
A 2020 Gartner report suggests that companies’ hesitation to continue remote work is because they perceive it will have negative effects on productivity, trust, and culture — not that it actually does.
Gartner found that more fully remote employees trusted their organization (51%) than employees who had never worked remotely (26%). Their study also showed that remote employees are more likely to report high discretionary effort and high enterprise contribution.
If concerns about agent performance and maintaining high quality are pushing you to ask your agents to return to the office, remote work software options that help you monitor those issues from afar will set your mind at ease — and potentially make you more efficient than ever.
Look for integrated solutions that work hand-in-hand to give you progress reports for your remote agents. Playvox Performance shows you at a glance how agents are doing with your most important KPIs, while Playvox Quality Management tracks and analyzes how agents handle every type of interaction. Paired together, they can show you the impact of behavior adjustments on hard metrics so you know exactly which agents need to improve in specific areas.
Related eBook: 9 Contact Center Metrics Essential for Success
Our study revealed that agents and managers don’t see eye to eye on the best way to motivate remote and hybrid workplaces.
Agents’ top motivational technique is having the option to work remotely, while managers favor more traditional motivators like recognition, incentives, and activities.
Offering remote work is a powerful tool for employee retention, but it can be hard to keep everyone engaged, motivated, and working as a team. Playvox Motivation helps you do that through gamification and healthy competition.
With badges and leaderboards, you can help individual agents shine by awarding points for earning excellent quality scores, completing learning courses, and engaging in coaching sessions. When you make learning and improvement a good time, agents will respond — no matter where they’re located.
Related Article: 5 Proven Strategies To Help Remote Contact Center Agents Feel Valued
Offering remote work helps you retain your existing employees and bring on new ones as you grow — nearly half of the managers in our study told us they used it to recruit during the last year. It also lets you expand your hiring search beyond the area around your physical location to find the best new employees.
To keep up with your team no matter where they are, you need software for remote workers. Playvox Workforce Management lets you get a real-time view of planned and actual capacity for every location and work type.
Seventy-six (76%) of agents in our survey told us control over their time was why they preferred remote work. Show your team you’re in touch with their needs — use Playvox Workforce Management to set predefined rules for employee scheduling and then let them handle their own shift swaps. It’s more convenient for your remote employees — and one fewer thing on your plate.
Playvox WFM also lets you take on the challenges of capacity planning in a modern omnichannel support center. The days of offering phone support only are long gone, after all. Playvox lets you easily handle the concurrent model common for digital service channels like chat, email, and social media.
Related Article: How WFM Tools Create Success for Omnichannel Contact Centers
Turn To Technology To Support Remote Work
Remote work is becoming a must for contact centers, but to make it work for everyone involved, you’ll need to make sure you have the right tools in place. Finding the best contact center software for remote workers to support your goals will help you manage your employees and keep your sanity intact.
Learn more about how other contact center leaders are handling remote work in our latest eBook, The Contact Center Conflict: Remote Work vs. Return to the Office.