The 2020 pandemic has led us to anticipate the future of the contact center industry and if anything, it’s going to be remote. For what was a mere dream for contact center leaders before March 2020, has become an imposed reality turning the world of contact centers upside down. If I had to imagine the contact center industry a year ago, the typical image would have been a huge building where agents were sitting next to each other making calls and answering customer queries, while being glued to a headset and a desktop.
However, with the world getting accustomed to the new normal, the contact center industry has seen interesting trends while accommodating to new challenges and newer solutions.
With this thought, we did a survey to understand what leaders think about the future of remote contact centers and the results couldn’t have been more surprising.
Suresh Suryamurthy, CEO, iMarque Solutions, amongst many other contact center leaders, believes that Remote Contact Centers are here to stay and disrupt the major business operations.
The Critical Challenges of Remote Contact Centers
To what we call as much anticipated change, has its own set of challenges. In our survey across APAC, Middle East, Africa, and India, with contact center leaders, we have concluded that the following are the challenges that need to be addressed immediately.
IT Governance & Security
As every coin has two sides, remote contact centers are no exception. For any industry, securing their customer data is the prime concern and while the agents are working remotely, it can become a challenge for many businesses, especially financial institutions, to maintain data privacy, network security, and data security.
When the entire organization logs in through the same network, it is much easier to identify and manage the network security issues, but what would you do when the employees are working from different locations with the constant threat to your data security? This does not limit the data breach, it also leads to compromising on business reputation and customer trust.
How do businesses maintain the same level of data security and device sanity in a remote work environment? The agents, while working remotely, may report issues like poor internet connectivity, unsupportive device, or low network connectivity. What do you trust, the network, the device, or the agent?
Onboarding & Collaboration
In a physical work environment, the contact center agents learned through tribal knowledge. Now, I think the bigger challenge is to collaborate and coordinate with the agents and the supervisors.
While the organizations can now hire a diverse workforce, the virtual onboarding and training will continue to pose a challenge. More so, in a contact center industry where agents need on-call assistance from their managers and supervisors. Staying connected with agents and building a team culture is difficult when you have to seek the mutual availability of peers and managers.
In a contact center environment, the business performance depends on various metrics like average handling time, CSAT rate, SLAs, number of calls handled, conversion rate, etc. But, when the agents are working remotely, it can pose a challenge for the supervisor to keep track of each agent’s performance including break duration, agents’ availability, and hence agents’ productivity.
While the agents work from different devices and locations, it can become a challenge for the supervisors to monitor their performance in real-time and provide insights when required.
Now that we have discussed the challenges of remote contact center software, you should know how to overcome these challenges and make the most of this opportunity.
The Future of Remote Contact Centers
I would start by stating the obvious, remote contact centers are here to stay and are here to disrupt the business operations largely. But, what are the additional benefits of choosing a remote contact center for your business?
While there are many, I will talk about how you can increase your business productivity and ROI effortlessly.
Reduced Cost Pressure
Contact centers are perceived as cost centers but with a remote contact center software, you can turn your cost center into a profit center.
Contact centers invest huge money into building the physical office space, estimating to 20-30% of the cost of the contact centers. More often than not, this function runs on razor-thin margins, especially in BPO companies.
Let’s imagine this cost goes away with contact center agents working remotely. The additional saving of 30% cost on setting up infrastructural facilities in the physical office environment can be invested in alternate channels, tools, and equipment for the remote workforce. This would have long term benefits of getting the best talent from across the geographies while keeping the costs under check.
Hiring a Diverse Workforce
With remote contact centers becoming the reality of the decades to come, hiring a diverse workforce and allowing the employees to navigate through the best opportunities without worrying about the location will also be a part of the new normal.
- Businesses working in different locations can choose from a wide range of talent pool to provide a native experience to the customers
- Working remotely also lifts up the age barrier, people that are approaching a retiring age are also looking for opportunities that give them a sense of purpose and income
- Parents staying at home will also get opportunities to take care of their families and work remotely
Increased Agent Productivity
An increase in agents’ productivity will contribute to business productivity directly. When given the flexibility to work from anywhere, using any browser, and device, agents feel at ease and reports to be more productive.
In a survey that we conducted with call center agents across multiple geographies, we found that agents were happily willing to work for extended durations if they were not asked to travel and reach back home in time. And in the extra time, the agents have started to pick up on different hobbies like cooking, reading, and gardening, which keeps them motivated to deliver the best results.
Interestingly, a study by SHRM indicates the same that “of those who work remotely at least a few times per month, 77% reported greater productivity while working offsite.”
Staying Ahead of the Curve
Today, there’s an opportunity to pick the battles right and gauge into a huge opportunity of transforming the contact centers into profit centers with the right solution.
“People who can crack this soon will be ahead of the game in the market,” Sachin Bhatia shares his thoughts on the future of remote contact centers and the need to transform contact centers for the contactless world.
Ready to transform your contact center? Find the right remote contact center solution today.