Working from home is the new reality for employees all around the world, as countries are taking drastic measures to limit the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak. Governments are increasingly asking businesses to allow their employees to work remotely from their homes or shift work to less affected regions to maintain business continuity. Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Facebook have expanded their work-from-home recommendations to include every staff member worldwide.
For contact centers, like any other environment where colleagues work in close physical proximity, working from office during a crisis like this has the potential risk of spreading the virus among the agents. It can further jeopardize the operations. As a business continuity plan, work from home is the best choice that most contact centers have right now for crisis management (CM).
Thanks to the availability of high-speed internet and cloud-based contact center solutions, agents can now easily connect to their systems at home through their PCs. Remote contact centers are not only more convenient but can be more productive. To help contact centers prepare and ensure for a productive work from home experience of their agents, we have created a checklist.
The checklist covers valuable tips on how to keep the agents safe and manage your agents remotely to support customers, intending to minimize the impact on the organization’s operations and profitability.
- Identify key business applications required and how your staff will access them from their homes or alternative remote location.
- Identify any client, contractual, HR, legal, or compliance requirements to be met for staff working from home or alternative remote location.
- Identify critical call types that must be answered and determine a mechanism to segregate those calls.
- Establish at-home agent policies, procedures, and work ethic guidelines and what is expected from agents.
- Ensure the contact center procures enough computers and docking stations for all agents who will be working remotely.
- Ensure you have a mechanism to label and track the PCs for asset control before distribution.
- Make sure the agents’ machines are viable for remote work.
- Determine minimum staffing requirements for critical inbound and outbound calls.
- Ensure the administrative staff can remotely change call routing, messaging, and related call center functionality.
- Ensure call center leadership has access to call center monitoring, reporting, and recording and determine your at-home call center agent is performing optimally.
- Determine situational specific routing and announcements that should be activated for critical call types.
- Determine appropriate messaging for non-critical call types, how these calls will be routed, and who needs to be notified
- Identify criteria for changing call routing, messaging, or moving call types between critical and non-critical classification
- Establish a disaster recovery (DR) functional team for mission-critical agents of major departments.
- Test the waters by allowing a few agents to work from home first to confirm that everything works fine before rolling the work-at-home agent plan.
- Schedule daily communication sessions between managers and at-home agents to provide feedback and reduce feelings of isolation.
- Use chat systems to provide in-the-moment feedback while the agent is on the phone.
- Create and share a list of requirements and issues in setting up a virtual contact center.
- Check with your legal teams to ensure there are no customer data privacy concerns.
- Check with your HR department to ensure this meets local workforce policies and procedures.
- Ensure all agents have adequate internet speed at their homes. If the internet speed is not sufficient, consider reimbursing them for the cost difference to increase their speed.
- Ensure that all machines have appropriate browsers and applications downloaded and installed for the agents to use.
- Ensure the PCs have up-to-date antivirus software installed and processes in place to protect against malicious hijacking of information via malware.
- Ensure all agents can access their corporate email addresses.
- Ensure all your agents are trained before they start working remotely.
- Ensure you share all resources, such as credentials, with the agents to access the appropriate URLs and applications.
- Ensure that the agents’ PCs can connect to your company’s network if they need to access other systems and tools.
- Ensure that all agents have functional headsets compatible with their computers they will be using while working remotely. Test headsets to ensure they work clearly and with good quality before they begin interacting with customers.
- Ensure your agents’ contact information is accurate and updated in your HR management.
- Set clear expectations and processes for your agents to clock their time while they are working from home.
- Create and put in place an emergency communication to communicate related events, company updates, etc., while your contact center is in remote mode.
- Consider making changes to your IVR scripts to reflect your contact center’s current situation, including estimated wait time information, and your Hours of Operation.
- Remind agents this will only be for a temporary period.
- Ensure the agents know who to call to inform if they become sick. Develop an effective mechanism to track and report all agents who become sick.
How can Acqueon help you during business interruptions such as the COVID-19 pandemic?
Acqueon’s AI-driven conversational engagement suite comes with several built-in, emergency response capabilities to keep daily operations going with minimal interruption during any emergency, including COVID 19.
Managing spikes in traffic.
All contact centers in healthcare, travel, education, and public services face intense spikes in call volumes during the COVID-19 pandemic. But the question is: Are you equipped to manage the surge in phone calls from customers and reassure their expectations? The Acqueon platform offers intelligent callbacks, and targeted preemptive notifications can alleviate all inbound congestions by offering scheduled callbacks to non-critical calls and immediate callbacks to critical calls, as-soon-as agents become available.
Handling disrupted supply chain situations
The coronavirus outbreak is causing significant disruption to the global supply of critical goods in healthcare and retail. It has triggered a flood of communication from suppliers, struggling to meet the current demand. Acqueon’s automated campaigns can proactively send real-time updates about the product availability, out-of-stock products, and services available to the buyers.
Manage critical resources
Now is the time that all businesses, especially in healthcare, optimize the availability of their critical resources. Acqueon’s automated appointments help them achieve the same by prioritizing critical appointments and rescheduling non-urgent ones based on availability, expertise, and location. It can also minimize no-shows with reminders or easy reschedule options, effectively reducing the increased volume of rescheduling.
As more and more companies are shifting to a work-from-home model, there is an increased need for rapid one-to-many notifications to be sent out to field-based staff and/or employees regarding frequent updates and news within the organization. Acqueon’s Admin Console can handle the flurry of changes, making it easy to deploy agents in their work-from-home environment.
2-way SMS notifications
Notifications are a critical tool for communicating in times of crisis. Targeted/tailored notifications are required to inform the availability of supplies, safe home delivery, and curbside pickup for contactless deliveries. Acqueon’s effective custom notifications capabilities can quickly assemble contact lists to push real-time notifications, similar to Amazon-Prime-like messages, with a call-to-action button.
Communication automation is the only solution to offload your front-line agents when they are overwhelmed by a large number of calls and communication activities. Acqueon’s conversational engagement bot can ease this workload by taking up the 2-way conversation to the next level, blending messaging channels like SMS, email, and IVR.
Collections impose a lot of financial pressure on businesses during emergencies. That’s because most collectors find it difficult to scale outreach and effectively engage with debtors. Acqueon engagement suite allows debt collectors to prioritize debtors with the highest likelihood to pay, provide options to make a partial or deferred payment, and re-assure people late with their payments about the continuity of critical services. It also enables collectors to send advanced notice of coming due and/or overdue payment.
Want to know more about how Acqueon can set up a robust crisis management at your contact center during this COVID 19 pandemic? Click here to request for a demo or contact our experts.