COVID-19 has been a worldwide catalyst for change particularly around the decade-long debate on remote or home-working. When Calabrio interviewed over 300 contact centre professionals to gain a better understanding of the impacts of the pandemic on customer service organisations, the overall message was clear – there is no going back to business as usual. Before Coronavirus, 1 in 3 contact centres had at least 50% of their agents working remotely. Compare this with the situation since lockdown. Today, in 9 out of 10 contact centres the majority of agents work remotely, a trend that is unlikely to be reversed. In fact, an astonishing 85% of employers plan to continue flexible hours as they enjoy the benefits of greater employee satisfaction along with higher productivity, service flexibility, more available agent hours and cost savings.
Dig deeper into the differences between the UK and the US and the results are both interesting and a little surprising. Despite a global increase in remote working, 73% of UK contact centres have moved three-quarters of their agents to work remotely compared with only 59% of US contact centres moving just over half of their agents to remote places. At the same time, managers in the UK report fewer significant changes and challenges than their US peers. Plus, US managers voice concerns over lower agent happiness with remote working.
So why have UK contact centres responded more quickly and effectively to remote working? The biggest clue to preparedness lies in the cloud. While the percentage of already fully-cloud-based contact centres are similar in the UK and US, UK contact centres are more rapidly deploying additional cloud-based software, giving them a distinct advantage from the outset. It’s a sentiment shared by UK analyst ContactBabel in its 2020 report on Cloud-based contact centre solutions which states a sharp rise in the number of home-based agents in the UK is “driven entirely by the cloud.” Interestingly, despite a marked increase in remote working States-side, the situation there is predicted to be short-term with “an expected pull-back to a centralised environment”, perhaps indicating a greater cultural difference between the two regions than at first apparent.
At Calabrio, we see a definite shift towards giving agents the ‘right tools and tech’ to do their job as they are forced to deepen their capacity for self-management, problem-solving, independent technology set-up and greater security awareness – all essential skills for thriving in a remote environment. Ninety-five percent of contact centres are continuing to invest or increase their investment in remote working solutions and this is where the cloud, especially when integrated with the latest Workforce Engagement Management (WEM) solutions – comes into its own to:
For more insights and inspiration on how to add agility to your contact centre operations, download the full results of Calabrio’s latest survey entitled “The State of the Contact Centre: Embracing the Evolving World of Work.”