Many people have called 2020 the year of radical change. One of the biggest being the shift from physical work culture to a remote environment. As businesses moved to virtual solutions in a hurry, the question of employee productivity arose, while also highlighting the importance of mental and physical health of workers.
Therefore, organisations that have been supportive of their employees by arranging tests for them and giving leeway to sick staff, and also those spreading awareness and donating to relief programs have become the talk of the town. They’re being applauded for showing a humanistic side in the otherwise ruthless corporate world.
As mentioned in this Forbes article, a firm’s biggest asset is its people. Business owners now understand the importance of investing time and energy into building strong customer service teams, and improving their dedication to the company.
In all this, we must recognise the importance of the Internet for allowing us to continue our lives despite social distancing. Not just personally, but also professionally. If cloud transformation was not possible, a lot of industries could have simply vanished from the face of the earth. Thankfully, advanced technology has now made home offices easy to set up and manage.
Here are seven ways to enhance contact centre team productivity while operating from home:
1. Integrate cloud telephony
Traditional office set-ups have a phone line connected to a PBX system. Therefore, employees are bound to a physical location and the firm ends up spending more on expensive hardware, storage and maintenance. As a result, companies are now increasingly making the switch to cloud telephony and for the good.
Cloud communications run on the cloud, of course. Therefore, all you need for this system is a stable Internet connection and your own device—from landlines to mobile phones or even laptops, anything is possible.
Especially in the work-from-home model, the cloud telephony offers unparalleled advantages with its multitude of features such as virtual phone numbers, IVRs, call analytics and reports, surveys, and much more.
Most importantly, cloud telephony bridges the gap between you and the world. You can reach whomever you want without any location concerns. Most service providers offer local or toll-free numbers as well.
2. Give employees flexibility
Our households are busier than ever these days—with parents working from home and kids learning virtually. The erratic schedules and random requests further blur the lines between work and private lives. Different employees, depending on their living situations and family needs, would be more productive at different times of the day.
That being said, it is important to make sure that as a company, you shift your focus to a work-based, rather than time-based culture. If employees are required to get set amounts of work done without worrying about the daily hours clocked, they can focus on integrating their home life better into their workdays.
Giving your staff the freedom to better plan and execute their work will not only increase their productivity, but also boost their loyalty to your firm.
You can also employ cloud telephony services like virtual numbers manned by multiple employees or IVRs for efficient load distribution so that no one is overburdened and no call gets missed.
At the same time, if your employees are working on flexible timings, it’s important to notify customers of the same. Send out an email blast or broadcast a message updating people of your support timings and numbers.
3. Have a plan B, and maybe even a plan C
If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that nothing is set in stone. After all, who would have thought that COVID-19 would turn into a pandemic affecting the entire planet?
You need to always have contingency plans in place to adapt to unwarranted events, and a back up to that plan as well. Only then can you ensure business continuity at every stage.
For your contact centre, you need to prepare for situations where phone and Internet lines may be down. Having a backup cloud server helps here, and your provider should also have contingency systems in place to cover for any downtime.
Let your customers know in advance that they can drop you an email if they are unable to reach your service for 24 hours or more. This ensures that their query does not go unanswered, and also saves time and effort of the customer.
4. Create a safe space
A workplace is no longer a space where you simply do the job and get paid. It’s an environment now, which looks at things beyond the quantity and quality of work—to how people are doing.
Conduct timely check-ins, set up grievance centres with qualified professionals, create a supportive culture with open-door policies and encourage communication at all costs.
Sharing your struggles with your team can help employees feel comfortable to be vulnerable and seek help if required. Most importantly, you need to make sure that there will be no judgment or repercussions for a person reaching out for help.
5. Have constant training
In life, you never stop learning. Whether it be personal or professional, improving your workforce will only improve your business.
For customer support teams, these training sessions can include use of cloud telephony solutions and setting up at home, better communication, call and performance analysis, tone and fluency of language, deeper understanding of the working of your products and services, and much more.
In fact, it’s encouraged to hold regular life skills and qualitative sessions. For instance, you can hold body language sessions, or teach stress management techniques.
6. Encourage open communication
The best way to grow is to ask for feedback. Whether it be related to work from home structures, timings, targets or anything else, employees should give their timely feedback and suggestions on how they can better operate.
Not just internally, but external feedback is also essential for a successful remote transition. Gather customer feedback to see how the new functions affect them and ask for their suggestions as well.
Most importantly, make sure that the feedback is being explored, discussed, and if viable, implemented. There is no point in sitting on feedback. It will work against the company, as employees and customers alike will begin to treat the reviews as a formality and lose trust in the business’s intentions.
7. Revisit employee policy
Since everything about work has changed, it is obvious that contracts and employee policies should be looked at again as well. This includes not only timings and deliverables but also policies regarding leaves and appraisals.
In the current uncertain climate, it is important to assure financial security to your employees. In case any pay cuts or downsizing is being planned, employees should be made aware and given enough time to prepare.
Many companies are creating specific policies in relevance to the pandemic. Read here about the legal obligations a company has around Coronavirus.
The corona pandemic has forced business to shift to remote working. Here are 7 ways you can make your home offices productive.