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Dmitry Arkhipov: Remote contact centers. Workplaces and employees in the new realities

Surprisingly, the remote work of contact centers did not become a business response to the need to adapt to coronavirus restrictions. Experiments with this format began several years before Covid-19, and by the beginning of the pandemic, they had already demonstrated their viability.

The “new reality” is only an increase in the number of customer interactions with the business through contact centers due to the growth of online sales and remote service. If some professions and business areas slowed down during the pandemic, contact centers were at the forefront and showed the highest demand.

The increased pace of penetration of new technologies-chatbots and messengers has not reduced the load on operators processing voice calls and video calls. According to Statista analytics, it is the phone and email that customers consider the easiest-to-use channels of interaction. And according to Microsoft, 71% of consumers prefer a voice communication channel.

The physical presence of the employee in the contact center has ceased to be important. Only 23% of the companies surveyed by CCW Digital see the need for this. Others consider it a good solution to organize workplaces using a hybrid model or completely in a remote format. But what is still important in the future is the skill of working with complex interactions.

Respondents note that contact center specialists need to learn how to work in a situation where the client has most likely already tried chatbots or passed the initial interaction using another tool. The contact center specialist should be able to correctly pick up the connection and provide the client with seamless switching between channels.

The technical base for work — a computer and a stable Internet connection is at the disposal of the majority of employees of contact centers and applicants. This significantly reduces the cost of equipping a remote workplace and increases staff productivity by using familiar devices. However, the presence of an employee’s own database has a number of problems that need to be solved. In particular, technical specialists have to configure software products in the “zoo” of various computers, laptops, and operating system versions. And most importantly, you have to do it remotely.

In addition, you need to be sure of the quality of the home Internet, the ability of employees to always be online and provide high-quality voice or video streaming. There is no need to save money here. It is better not to rely on the headsets and USB webcams available to the employee, but to invest in equipping the remote workplace with professional call centre headsets and accessories. They provide consistently high sound and video quality and also have the most suitable characteristics for contact centers. In particular, professional headsets are able to convey the emotional coloring of the voice, the importance of which was mentioned above. They also have a noise reduction system, without which the performance of duties in a home environment can be difficult due to a large (and sometimes uncontrolled) number of extraneous sounds.

In 2020, many companies found themselves in a difficult situation, faced with a significantly increased number of calls, a large number of new customers, and pressure due to the need to provide a service of at least high quality. The employees of the contact centers had to facilitate interaction and meet the growing expectations in the customer experience.

The market research conducted by CCW Digital helped to identify the most important qualities of contact center employees. Empathy was in the first place, it was noted by 68% of companies. In the case of customer service, these are not long and kind conversations, as they may seem at first glance. This means the ability to adapt to each client and appropriately change the tone depending on the situation. For example, if a client wants to get the fastest and easiest solution — the empathic response of a support specialist will be to understand the urgency of the issue and provide the fastest and most unhindered support.

However, maintaining a friendly tone of communication is still important and 63% of companies pay attention to this. They believe that friendliness and the ability to evoke emotions are extremely important for contact center specialists. Also, attention should be paid to the ability of employees to work with different communication channels, adapting to the most convenient for the client, as well as comprehensively solve even the most complex tasks.

As a result, the specialists of contact centers are most expected to develop empathy, use a sympathetic tone, develop skills in using digital tools, and the ability to work in the “one window” format with different communication channels.

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