Make Every Agent Your Best Agent With WFM — Even Remotely
No matter where your contact center team is physically located, bringing out their best performance can be a big challenge. Adding remote work or a hybrid setup to the mix can make things even tougher. But does it have to?
Why Agents Want To Work Remotely — And Why You Should Let Them
Remote and hybrid work are no longer hard-to-find benefits in customer support centers. In our 2022 study of contact centers in the United States and Canada, nearly 60% reported using a hybrid work model, while almost 40% of service centers were entirely remote.
Elsewhere, the International Labor Organization reports that 23 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean transitioned to telework at the beginning of the pandemic.
While some customer service centers are transitioning back to the office, agents continue to want the option to work remotely. Agents in our survey considered it the top motivator their contact center can offer, and 56% said they would consider leaving their job if they couldn’t continue.
And while you might view being back together in an office as an employee productivity booster, Gartner research has shown that assumption isn’t true — remote workers trust their organization more and are more productive than those who have never worked in traditional offices.
The dangers of bringing back agents who don’t want to be in the office are quite real. Gallup found that employees who want to work remotely but aren’t allowed to show higher rates of burnout and — echoing the results of our study — a greater desire to quit.
But letting agents continue to work outside the office doesn’t have to be a minefield of potential issues. By tracking the right metrics and using smart technology, you can keep a close eye on your agents’ success and productivity — without becoming Big Brother in the process.
Related Article: 5 Ways Contact Center Managers are Adapting to Remote Work
Important KPIs To Track For Remote Agents
No matter where your team is located, it’s critical to maintain key performance indicators (KPI) and business metrics, including CSAT, NPS, Productivity (sometimes measured as Occupancy), and Adherence. Monitoring these KPIs is essential to maintaining proper standards, regardless of where the employees are located.
But when teams are remote, you have to go a step further and employ the right technology to help. Leading CX centers rely on world-class quality management and workforce management technologies to provide excellent service and support while improving efficiency and reducing costs.
The Playvox study found 68% of agents working remotely 31-40 hours per week and most managers (64%) working remotely five or more days per week. Technologies like quality management or workforce management offer the constant support and feedback needed to deliver the high-quality service that the company expects. And they can help managers “walk the floor” remotely to stay engaged with their teams.
Related Article: How to Manage a Remote Contact Center Now: 6 Best Practices
Giving Feedback and Recognizing Agent Successes
Diagnosing opportunities for improvement in customer interactions from afar isn’t too complicated, but coaching agents to succeed and recognizing agents when they do well at a distance is a bigger challenge.
To start, it’s critical for agents to have visibility into the metrics that are most important to the business. This will help them understand how their performance impacts the business.
Once employees understand what metrics are critical to the business, it’s key to recognize an employee’s positive achievements to keep them engaged and motivated to provide a great customer experience.
If agents do become disengaged, it can damage the customer experience you’ve worked hard to build. Gartner found that disengaged agents actually make getting service harder for your customers by not resolving issues on the first contact, making them repeat information, and failing to remove steps from the process of getting service.
Engaged agents are more invested in their work and meeting the performance goals you set just for them. According to a 2022 ICMI report, most contact centers set individual performance goals (57%) and focused less on group goals (29%) or company-wide goals (14%). When you personalize the goals you set, agents will find them easier to manage and achieve.
Recognizing achievements also helps remove the anxiety some agents have around quality management. It’s not just a tool for finding out what’s wrong — it’s also a way to celebrate what’s going right.
When you do find an issue that needs to be improved through quality management, aim to coach agents toward improvement rather than resorting to negative methods like reprimanding. An automated solution that integrates with your quality management software to deliver targeted coaching will make it easier for you to get agents the support they need faster.
Focusing on keeping agents engaged and motivated will be far more productive in the end, helping you retain your team and reduce the costs of the CX department.
Related On-Demand Webinar: Coaching: Tips and Tricks to Make it Effective
Maintaining Quality Without Micromanaging
Occupation/productivity and adherence are leading indicators to watch in a hybrid work ecosystem. Customers’ high expectations — not to mention your service level agreements with them — require companies to deliver timely service.
Making sure agents work on assigned tasks during their shifts is key to providing the speedy interactions customers demand. But without the right solutions in a remote or hybrid environment, it’s impossible to tell if that’s happening. When you can’t be sure, you put your service levels — and your customer relationships — at risk.
The main objective is to be able to virtually understand what is happening in your support center remotely without micromanaging your team — a surefire way to decrease employee engagement.
When you identify agents who are struggling with productivity, support and coach them through it. A workforce management solution that allows real-time monitoring of agent adherence and productivity will help you identify these opportunities to improve faster for improved overall performance by your team.
Related Article: Capacity Planning Needs An Overhaul: 5 Tips For A Turnaround
Forecasting And Scheduling To Make Sure Every Agent Shines
An accurate forecast of the volume of interactions by service channel will be a definitive factor for capacity planning and scheduling the right number of agents in each channel. A company cannot operate efficiently with too many or too few resources.
Fortunately, there are workforce management solutions (like Playfox WFM) that use AI to take historical data and predict future needs with greater precision, calculating the optimal number of agents needed in each channel to provide an outstanding customer experience.
Spreadsheets, even with complex macros, can’t do this as efficiently as workforce management technology can.
Related Article: How WFM Tools Create Success for Omnichannel Contact Centers
Let Technology Do The Heavy Lifting
Workforce engagement management solutions, such as workforce management and quality management, are strong allies for contact centers in facing the challenges created by remote work and customers’ rapid adoption of new digital support and service channels. Integrating your CRM and your workforce engagement management solution is essential to empowering your teams and providing five-star service.
Solutions like these allow you to see what’s happening as if everyone were on site and become a more attentive, engaging manager in hybrid or remote contact center environments. They can break down silos and bring previously in-person processes to life — and give every agent an opportunity to become your best agent.
Find out more about making the most of your hybrid or remote team in our ebook The Contact Center Conflict: Remote Work vs. Return to the Office. In it, you’ll find out what agents want most as remote employees and how to deliver it.