Dorottya Márton of VCC Live shares her advice for improving your communication with remote agents.
There has been a lot written about the increasing trend of remote work and its benefits. The upside of remote work involves improved employee well-being, reduced burnout levels and even higher levels of productivity. Remote work is also beneficial for most organizations, as it reduces operational costs.
Additionally, it can be seen as a beneficial long-term move. Having a stable remote-work infrastructure in place within your organization enables you and your team to keep business afloat in unexpected circumstances that may result in mobility restrictions.
However, developing a remote-work infrastructure also comes with its obstacles. Among these, communication is listed as the number one challenge when working remotely. How do you get oversight on when, how, and what your employees are working on? How do you align your daily and weekly goals?
Managing effective communication in a remote contact centre can seem intimidating at first. However, if you establish a few simple guidelines along with the right technology, you’ll be able to harvest the benefits of a remote-work infrastructure.
Check in Regularly
It is important to check in with your team on a regular basis. This will help you align your daily or weekly goals and it helps make sure that your team members have support concerning any issues that they might have. Decide on a regular team meeting schedule and stick to it.
With this, you actively create a platform for employees to address any roadblocks in their work before it becomes a bigger issue. Additionally, regular check-ins are good for maintaining morale, in order to avoid loneliness.
When establishing a check-in routine with your team, make sure that you have the right technology in place. There are a host of available technologies to help you effectively manage your team communications.
These involve easily accessible video conferencing and team collaboration tools, such as Zoom, Slack, or Google Hangouts.
Next to the regularly scheduled team meetings, remember to encourage your team members to turn to you or their supervisors if they want to run through any additional questions or ideas.
It is better to address any issues or confusion head-on at the beginning of your remote work operations.
Have the Right Tools in Place
The right technology can easily help you establish a smooth, in-office experience, making your work just as or even more effective than on-premise.
The activities in your remote contact centre can easily be tracked with cloud-based systems. With user state logs, you can keep track of agents’ states to find out, for example, when agents are on a call, use a broken code, log in or out, or exceed the allowed break limit.
Real-time monitoring can also give you direct insight into ongoing conversations, and call-whispering features will allow you to give feedback to an agent without the client hearing.
Additionally, with the help of certain cloud contact centres, you can transfer employees between projects, or change their status from a distance.
Features such as a user activity log can also help you in keeping your remote employees’ work under supervision. This feature enables you or the supervisor of your team to log daily updates and log-in requests, and it updates do-not-call registries.
Set up Communications Guidelines
When managing your remote-work communications, it is very important to establish clear guidelines for communication and collaboration. These guidelines don’t have to be complicated.
The aim is to establish what and where to communicate during work, in order to make the process of managing and addressing your agents’ issues as seamless as possible.
For example, you can set up an employee guideline for this. You might ask your agents and staff to use Slack for general enquiries and email in official matters.
A possible way to help establish guidelines is to create a remote-employee handbook that clearly states how and when to communicate with supervisors and other employees. Additionally, you can also set up an easily accessible Q&A document.
Have Clear Goals and Metrics in Place
Maintaining the daily or weekly goals of your operation and understanding the resulting metrics might seem like an impossible task when facing the prospect of a remote-work infrastructure.
However, with the right technology, you can easily understand numbers remotely and even follow your operations in real time, wherever you might be working from. By having a clear oversight of your operations, you are able to set clear goals for your team.
The KPI dashboard of cloud-based contact centres provides easily understandable, real-time numbers. The dashboard statistics include quantifiable oversight, such as disposition, global and project-specific calls, and inbound statistics.
Create an Office Culture Online
Perhaps one of the hardest challenges facing remote workers is the lack of social contact with their colleagues. Office culture can be a huge contributor to comfortable work environments and it is essential for a lot of employees in maintaining their mental health and productivity.
Social contact could be as simple as having a coffee break or a short chat with a colleague.
Make your employees feel valued and part of a community, by enabling the option of lunch or coffee break video chat rooms. You can easily do this with digital video hangouts.
Alternatively, most online team collaboration tools such as Slack also have these features readily available. If you are working in a smaller organization, and your company culture permits, it is a good idea to implement regular social events, such as Zoom birthday parties, to maintain your relationship with colleagues and make them feel less alone.
Maintaining communication during remote work might seem daunting to some, especially if it is something they haven’t done before. However, with the right planning, technology, and a little patience, your remote-work operations could turn into a seamless process.
Remember to check in regularly with your team, find the right tools for managing your agents, and establish clear communication guidelines and goals for your employees to follow. Last but not least, try to create a socially supportive office culture that helps maintain your remote-work community.