20 Dec A guide to setting up a remote contact center
The customer service industry is changing in so many ways. The most vital of which is the way contact centers operate. Back in the day, the only way to run a contact center was to have a physical space, cram as many agents as you need into cubicles, and have them do their jobs using traditional (physical) phone systems! But technologies change, and we now have the option of allowing contact center agents to work from home (WFH).
The Covid 19 Pandemic, as we all know, has forced everyone to take stock of how they run their operations and to pursue technologies that allowed for them to adapt. Luckily, VOIP has been around long enough and was in prime position to allow everyone to connect using the powers of the internet. And what a wonderful technology it is! Let’s look at the steps of stepping up a virtual contact center and how you and your business can benefit from it.
For this, we are using our very own Nautilus Contact Center Solution as an example.
What is a remote contact center?
A remote contact center is (almost) everything a traditional contact center is not. Yes, it serves the same purpose of offering customer resolution, but it does so freed from the constraints of the traditional contact center environment. It runs on the internet, and is thereby untethered to traditional PBX systems. This makes it possible to potentially being run from practically anywhere.
Remote contact centers have been slowly growing in popularity, but was propelled forward by the pandemic. Businesses were forced to allow their workers to operate from their homes, and in time they realized the benefits of this.
What you need for a remote contact center
The following are the necessary tools you will need when running a virtual or remote contact center. The ones listed here are the must-haves, and allow you to operate your business well.
- A strong and stable internet connection
- Capable computers
- Virtual contact center software (ie Nautilus)
- Time to train your team on the use of the software
Transitioning to a remote environment can be a daunting experience for the business, the customer service agents, and customers as well. So many things can go wrong, but can easily be avoided with preparation and the right training.
A step by step guide to remote contact centers
Specify your industry and the kind of service you will be offering.
This is very important as knowing which kind of features you will end up needing. Will your team be doing outbound calls? Or is it mostly inbound calls for a hotel? Do you have a customer relationship management (CRM) software that you need to integrate?
Create a call flow.
A call flow is a basically a map that a call takes in its journey to find resolution. Customer service agents use this to gauge the steps they need to take to better assist their customers. Having the right call flow allows for a better customer journey!
Use the right software.
Ideally one that offers a cloud calling solution and a reporting portal. There are many cloud companies who offer different solutions at different rates. Choosing one that covers all your needs is very important, as not all VOIP plans are built the same way.
Offer an omnichannel experience.
A big trend of the past few years is the use of an omnichannel solution. This allows your team to handle live chat, SMS, and phone call inquiries in one place. Popular examples would be Zendesk and Nautilus’s own Nautilus Talk.
Provide proper training to your team.
Running a contact center on the cloud is a different experience that offers its own share of pros and cons. Potential team members will have to be provided a set number of soft skills including customer service, as well as some minor technical proficiency in the event that something in their computer or the software they use breaks down. Another thing is the fact that working remotely requires a level of trust and self-proficiency. Team members will be acting on faith and should be open to being tracked remotely.
Have backup plans in the event of a blackout.
In case of power and internet connection failure, it would be advisable to provide your team with an Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) and an internet backup plan (in case internet connection is disrupted). If at all possible, having a backup power generator is also a good thing to have.
Keep company morale and engagement up.
In a remote contact center, everyone is working away from each other thereby making connections difficult. The key to a functional contact center is harmony and having a supportive network. A contact center environment by nature is very stressful, and its easy for your staff to lose morale if they’re constantly under stress. Having fun and engaging company interactions will go a long way in helping keep everyone happy!
A remote contact center environment is growing more and more popular. Westjet, a major Canadian Airline, is currently one of the biggest companies who are openly promoting its use of a remote contact center. Other companies like Adecco, Concentrix, and Robert Half International are other examples who are successfully employing WFH contact center agents.
The truth is, remote contact centers are at a point now that it is operationally sound to run. Some say that Covid-19 was what pushed the remote workspace to the forefront, and maybe that is true. But the truth remains: the technology is available, and the world is ready for it.