It is an uncertain time for individuals and businesses alike and contact centres must strive to understand the impact that may have on people’s behaviour but also how they can adapt and still offer great customer service.
Likely, you’ll experience even more enquiries because of the uncertainty. If done correctly, you can leave a better impression on your customs than before the pandemic because something like this brings out the more human side of us and one, customers are more likely to be pleased by.
Additionally, you’ll need to keep your team motivated and try to consider the stressful toll this time may cause them, too.
Essentially, your contact centre needs to ensure that during and after this lockdown, your customer service remains top notch and your team supported and at the top of their game; even if they aren’t all in the same building and regardless if you have furloughed staff.
Technology to make Lockdown Easier for your Contact Centre
Your team will need certain technology in place to operate fully from home;
- Laptop – we would recommend for security measures that you supply a laptop rather than giving your team permission to use their personal laptops for work purposes. It reduces the risks of cyber threats accessing your network.
- Security and access to documents – your team will need to access company files. Depending on where you are storing those files will depend on how your team will access. Some cloud storage solutions don’t require VPN access but, in most cases, we would recommend a solution which uses VPN access to protect your files with a secure private connection. Essentially, you’ll want them to be able to access the files but also not risk anything happening to your network.
- Phone system that can be accessed remotely is essential for your team to receive all calls. Most phone systems are able to do this if IP technology is involved because they would be using their internet to connect to the system.
- Headset – your team don’t need a physical phone to use the phone system; a headset that can be plugged into their laptop where they can use a softphone application which is connected to your phone system
- Connectivity – a key component to working remotely is a good broadband solution because all of the technology you need to work remotely requires a good internet connection.
To manage and motivate you team you will need:
- Call Centre Management tools – you mostly have some contact centre management tools such as Akixi in place but now is the time to not lose focus on them. You will need to ensure your SLA’s don’t drop and you’ll need this software to do so. You’ll be able to manage performance across departments (and individually), be able to see the flow of calls coming into the business and ensure that there is enough resource available or ascertain why there isn’t the resource available.
- Unified Communications will allow your team to collaborate effectively, whilst working remotely because you’ll be able to set up “chats” to speak with each other, share files and be able to conduct video conferencing with each other from one application. Unified Communications can also help with motivating your staff and ensuring their mental health isn't impacted by working remotely.
- Surveys – the responses will tell you a lot about whether the customer service you are delivering has been affected by the lockdown and analyse it further to see if it can be improved on. This can be done after the call has been completed by diverting the customer to a phone survey or via text or email.
BreatheHR’s Culture Economy Report 2020 estimated that toxic workplaces cost the UK economy £15.7 bn every year. With that in mind, it’s important to maintain a healthy company culture, even more so when the team is based remotely.
Once the starts to ease and even when it is considered over, you have two main options:
Permanent Remote Working Contact Centre
You may decide that it worked well over the lockdown and with minor tweaks it could work even better. Remote Contact Centres worked before and during the lockdown so why can’t they work afterwards? You may only need to consider revising some of your company’s policies or recruitment practices. Don’t forget, you’ll save substantial overheads if that is the path you choose to take.
Stagger Return to Work
With this option you are most likely going to transfer back to a more traditional environment with everyone in the same office but with COVID-19 guidelines with maintaining distance this may be difficult as typically, contact centres are busy, crowded spaces.
The main elements you’ll need to consider is the:
- Work Rota – how many people can you have in at one time? You may decide to stagger shifts so it reduces the amount of people coming in/leaving at one time.
- Desk spaces – ensuring there is enough space around to maintain distance from colleagues so this could be adding in desk shielding but also moving desks. If you are moving desks, you’ll need to ensure there is appropriate data cabling in place but also, Wi-Fi access if they are moving to where a data cable isn’t present.
- Communal areas – ensuring that staff who are in communal areas don’t increase the risk of infection or are exposed to it. You may consider staggering lunch breaks to help resolve this or simply put in shielded areas or other protective equipment.
Depending on your business and the footfall of your contact centre, you may want to take it further by considering these options:
- Thermal Cameras – you can get CCTV Cameras which have temperature detection where they can detect elevated skin-surface temperatures. They can be used for rapid and preliminary temperature screening in office buildings, factories, stations, airports and other public places, with accuracy up to +/-0.3oC.
- Touch free Entry/exit – you can get a touch-free terminal which allows your staff to enter a building, record attendance and simultaneously check temperature without having to touch a terminal or gate, using face recognition and thermographic technologies. The touch-free nature of the terminal makes access easier and safer, suitable for long-term temperature screening with access control for any scenarios with a high footfall of people. It can also be configured to allow for people to ‘self-check’ their temperature.
- Density Control – which is people counting technology. It is a display with real-time alerts to ensure pre-defined capacity thresholds are never exceeded, even in locations with multiple entrances and exits. It means you can ensure that you never exceed “capacity” in your building which would increase risk of infections spreading.