Employing an at-home workforce of call center agents starts with equipping them with the right tools. Below is a list of “must-have” technology, equipment and software that will make maintaining a dispersed workforce simple and effective while enhancing collaboration and a team-based culture.
In order to make and receive calls, your at-home agents will need a computer that meets your basic system requirements, a headset and an internet connection. If you use browser-based call center software they won’t need a telephone line, VoIP connection or a VPN. Making sure that their internet connection and system capabilities are sufficient to work optimally is a must. Many companies will provide these basics for their at-home agents. This ensures that all equipment is the same and simplifies the troubleshooting process for your IT helpdesk.
Any company that employs an at-home workforce should use browser-based call center software. With this software, all that is needed to make and receive calls is a computer, internet connection and a headset. Setup is simple: there is no hardware or software to install, no hassles with telecom providers, no plugins to update, just login and go. Browser-based call center software is also an invaluable tool for the at-home agent. It displays the entire history of a customer by integrating CRM, helpdesk systems and social media, providing your agents with a comprehensive overview of each caller as the phone rings. Enhance your agent’s capabilities and keep your dispersed team on the same page by equipping them with the most valuable information about the customer, in real-time with browser-based call center software.
An ACD is a telephony system that is typically incorporated in call center software. The ACD answers incoming calls and routes them to a specific agent. With an ACD, calls can be routed to specific agents based on customer information (i.e. the phone number the customer dialed, the information the customer input into the IVR, etc.) as well as agent information (i.e. the skill of the agent and agent availability). This is critical in making sure each remote agent only receives calls they are qualified to handle and only when they are ready to handle them.
When your agents work from home, they can easily miss important information about customers. CRMs fill this gap. CRMs compile information about each customer such as: client demographics, email, phone numbers, call logs, chat transcripts, etc. so your agent will always be up-to-date no matter where they are working. Some browser-based call center software functions as a CRM as well. Ensuring that your CRM is constantly up-to-date and that your call center agents are using it as a tool during their conversations with their customers is critical to success.
Agents have a lot to handle. They have to answer a customer’s question, make sure the conversation is pleasant and seamless, take notes and update a CRM with relevant information all at the same time. Due to the demands of their job, they sometimes forget to write down important information, enter wrong information or don’t enter information at all. Reduce these mistakes by ensuring that all customer conversations are recorded and automatically updated into your company’s systems. Then, the next time any employee would like more information about that interaction, they can listen to the call recording. Call recording is also critical for quality assurance and is essential when managing a dispersed workforce.
Call center software that allows for systematic, standardized call monitoring practices is a must-have for managing an at-home workforce. Call monitoring will allow managers to remotely train agents, drop in on live calls, provide whisper coaching when needed and ensure that your team is delivering consistently excellent service at all times.
Keeping a close eye on performance metrics is even more important when your employees are not working in the same building as you are. You can evaluate agent effectiveness with metrics such as service level, average call length, average number of transfers and average hold time. You can also see when agents are logged in, how long they have been idle, when they are on live calls and when they are unavailable. Your managers will never miss a beat with comprehensive real-time and historical data.
A chat system and video conferencing tools will help keep your team connected and ensure that management can effectively monitor performance. With these tools, at-home agents can message a manager while they are on a call, ask a colleague a question and have the security of knowing that someone will be able to help them when needed. It is also a great way to help reduce the isolative feeling that can come with working at home.
Before employing at-home agents, you should be sure that your IT team is well equipped to help setup and monitor remote workers. This includes providing them with software so they can easily diagnose and fix any technical issues that the at-home agent may be experiencing, without having to leave the office.
Workforce management tools are an easy way to create schedules and to monitor adherence to schedules. It is sophisticated software that takes into consideration agent availability, shift flexibility, call volume, etc. when formulating schedules. Workforce management tools can be invaluable, especially when you maintain a flexible and dynamic workforce.
Analyzing real-time and historical metrics are not the end all be all of analyzing an at-home agent’s performance. You should also listen to what your customers are saying. Using a post-contact customer surveying tool is the key to this process. When your customers are happy, your agents are doing a great job.
In order to effectively maintain a team of at-home call center agents, you must equip your entire team with progressive call center software and associated business tools. These tools will have an enormous impact on their professionalism and effectiveness which will translate into more successful customer interactions. They are so necessary that your team can’t afford to work without them.
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