In the age of Customer Experience, every company - small business to large enterprise needs some kind of contact centre. A streamlined support framework for managing customer contact and developing customer relationships around your offerings is vital. The contact centre is not only a function for sales and service delivery. These spaces are the communication stream from brand to customer. And notably, contact centres offer key information, support and reassurance for customers in times of personal and economic crisis.
So, how do businesses successfully adapt to the changing work environment?
With companies undergoing business model, operational and process adjustments to meet the demands of 2020, building and sustaining efficient service delivery minimises costs and risks. The contact centre and associated customer experience either drives customer retention or drives customers away.
The pandemic has fast-tracked new approaches and practices for contact centres and these include methods of hiring, training and development.
While a remote workforce is beneficial to both companies and employees — training, motivating and developing remote employees brings new challenges.
Here are 7 key areas to consider in achieving a high-performing, engaged remote contact centre workforce.
1. Talent Acquisition – Hire right the first time.
It’s fundamental to identify people with the personality, soft skills and work ethic to become top performers working from home. A blend of online tools, virtual interviewing and a consistent policy provides the best chance of hiring the right fit, the first time.
- Pre-screen to identify skills.
- Utilise online assessments for language, technical, and psychometric evaluation.
- Include competency-based interview techniques with well-defined scoring guidelines.
- Develop unique culture tests to ensure the candidate understands the community.
- Use background screening tools for background and employment checks.
2. Onboarding - Virtually introduce new hires to the team.
A meaningful onboarding process makes new employees feel welcome, valued and motivated while working from home. Use video collaboration tools and encourage constant communication within an immersive, interconnected business environment. To help build relationships faster, train team leads to build on the personal relationship throughout every interaction rather than reverting to management mode.
Celine Aubert, Chief of Staff Development at Covalen says “Creating that sense of community starts at the beginning. Contact centres have a young workforce who are intent on socialising and bonding. We focus on finding creative ways to promote continuous employee engagement. We want new employees to feel the warmth and connection of being part of a bigger team. So, we kick off with a video introduction where everyone talks about who they are, and what they do. This helps to develop relationships and engagement from the outset.”
Creating a support structure by connecting top-performers to new employees enables a constant flow of information and a clearer, faster route to effective performance. It encourages new contact centre employees to reach out with questions and get the best advice.
3. Tools and learning - Equip new employees with the right tools and resources.
Induction training, enhancement training, and ongoing development are essential to inspiring conclusive knowledge of your business offerings and company culture. With much of this done remotely during 2020, L&D requires a whole new approach with new expected outcomes. Programmes that focus on wellness as much as skills development are essential.
All-remote learning and development can still happen in face-to-face sessions online. What’s significant, is that trainers design highly interactive courses to hold the attention of employees, while providing the information, care, and resources to support employee wellness.
Celine says “Our onboarding programme includes a wellbeing induction that explains all about our health and wellbeing programmes, their significance, and how easy it is to engage. Employees may not express their personal situation — so from the start, we want them to know they can reach out anytime.”
4. Attendance - Justify the importance of adhering to your attendance policy.
Employees need to know how to report lateness or absence, and who to report it to. It’s worth checking that they understand your attendance policy. Then, by explaining how these factors can impact their performance evaluation, their colleagues, and the service level agreement, it provides greater awareness of how all the pieces fit together — and how their contribution is integral to achieving goals.
5. Create scripts to guide sales and service goals.
New contact centre employees need to practice their approach to customer communication, to achieve a specific goal. Providing examples of appropriate dialogue and a roadmap of communication and transfer techniques will prepare them for effective customer contact.
Also, best practice call etiquette and online communication archives will provide insight and logic. Choose examples based on key customer issues, for example, dealing with customer frustration/ how to respond when they don’t know the solution/ when to escalate a call.
6. Quality is key - Continually reinforce quality.
To provide exceptional service consistently, employees need to realise the valuable role they play in building customer relationships. Educate employees about quality standards and how quality is achieved and maintained. Explain how service quality impacts customer conversion rates, retention and loyalty.
According to Celine Aubert, Chief of Staff Development at Covalen, “Quality comes through people management and making sure new employees have excellent support from the beginning. When we moved our contact centre employees to work from home, we immediately adjusted all our touchpoints”.
7. Happy contact centre employees = happy customers.
Sustaining happiness is especially relevant now. Support channels, constant collaboration, awareness of challenges, and managing with empathy — are crucial. This includes a robust employee assistance programme (EAP) with courses, resources, one-to-one sessions and a knowledgebase of topics.
Coping and thriving through these challenging times is what really matters now.