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Dodging Common WFH Hazards in the Contact Center

In my last article, I covered some of the reasons why WFH will indeed be the “new normal” for contact centers post-pandemic. However, this process is not without challenges. Here are my suggestions for dodging what I’ve seen to be the top three:

Analyze and formalize the participation and processes for your expanded WFH policy

Many companies find the quality of their customer support initially declines when they launch permanent WFH policies. That’s because the technology often used by agents isn’t designed or optimized for a WFH scenario. As a result, it can take longer for the even the most-seasoned agent to resolve a customer’s inquiry when they WFH.

So put some real thought into your permanent WFH policy. Consider things like:

  • Eligibility. Are all agents eligible for WFH? Or will we use WFH as a reward for high performers? Are there thresholds agents need to meet to become or remain eligible for WFH? Since some agents prefer the social aspect of working in an office, will we give some or all agents a choice of working in an office or from home?
  • Equipment/technology. Does our current tech support remote employees? How can we secure data while allowing agents to WFH? Will our VPN support enough simultaneous users? What should a WFH agent do if his/her headset breaks? Do WFH agents use their own computers, or will we ship computers to them?

Retain physical space for in-person training/onboarding of new agents

Many have tried, but it’s really difficult to properly and adequately train new contact center agents while they work from home. That’s because most of the technology used by contact centers today doesn’t enable or support any sort of virtual training of new agents: the mechanisms for replicating in a virtual manner key parts of the agent training process—such as new agents shadowing experienced agents while they handle calls—simply don’t exist right now.

So, regardless of your permanent WFH/in-office headcount mix, preserve office space for the live training of new agents. Bring new hires into the office for their first 6-8 weeks of employment—allowing them to train side-by-side with experienced agents, reach very seasoned states and become self-sustaining—before sending them home to assume their regular WFH status.

Strengthen your workforce management (WFM) function

Simply put—contact centers with strong WFM functions succeed more easily with WFH. That’s because the same proactive, plan-oriented skillsets that fuel top-notch WFM—building accurate assumptions, predictions and forecasts, for example—are needed to successfully deploy, manage and scale WFH.

For more information on managing a remote workforce, visit our Managing a Remote Workforce Definitive Guide.

Dave Hoekstra has spent his entire professional career in customer service, but it wasn’t until he found WFM that he found his true passion. With over 20 years in WFM, Dave has gained insight into the real world challenges of working in today’s customer service. He is one of the few people who truly gets excited when someone wants to talk about Real Time Adherence or Net Staffing reports.
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