How to improve agent productivity during remote working
The groundwork for remote working was set by a good number of businesses during the pandemic, and now that it continues to be relevant, there’s a whole new playbook being adopted with a notable focus on agent productivity in remote working and hybrid working environments.
While the work-at-home environment itself has been the major driver for increased productivity, organizations still must rely on solutions to monitor employee activities. This transition demands enhanced collaboration tools, ease of management, and more operational flexibility.
The importance of agent productivity
To continue enjoying the benefits of working remotely, contact centers must ensure the productivity of their agents. This is only possible if the agents are equipped with the necessary tools and empowered with a strong support system.
Maintaining an optimal level of agent productivity helps deliver a quality customer experience through efficient, effective, and personalized customer engagement.
5 ways to optimize agent productivity in a remote working environment
Thanks to several flexible processes, automation, and new technologies, here are a few ways to keep remote-working agents engaged and productive.
1. Centralize channel management
Today’s digital landscape requires one to be present on a number of digital channels: email, live chat, social media, messaging applications, etc. Therefore, relying on separate tools is not practical when it comes to managing all of them efficiently and delivering quick responses.
Having different teams for each channel isn’t a feasible approach either, as it does not adapt to the latest challenges in customer experience. The best strategy for successful multiple-channel management is to centralize it to a single platform and sort the teams by skills.
Cloud-based tools allow for immediate deployment of remote work; all agents require are a computer and an internet connection, removing the need for hardware-dependent on-premises tools. Using a single tool also reduces business costs and the need for training.
Thank to open platforms, it is now possible to have a complete ecosystem of tools that can boost agent productivity. Agents no longer have to switch across multiple tools with such flexibility, and with the integration of the CRM with the contact center solution, agents can easily access all customer information on a single tab. This way, businesses can easily add new users and channels and quickly adapt to changes.
2. Facilitate collaboration between agents and AI
Unlike the initial apprehension, AI is not here to replace agents but rather to empower them. In a collaboration between AI and agents, each plays a separate role. While basic inquiries like order tracking and document requests are handled by AI-powered chatbots, the agents focus on tasks that require more complex interactions. This is only possible through a smooth handover between contact center AI and agents.
The goal is always to improve the customer experience by streamlining the process and ensuring a seamless transition between both AI and agents on the same channel, with transparency for the customers.
It’s important to offer support for all agent interactions while, at the same time, giving them the autonomy to come up with their own resolutions for different customer problems.
3. Promote employee empowerment
Agents are active on the customer service frontline, which means that when they are motivated, they deliver their best service to the customers. Therefore, employee engagement is considered one of the core competencies of delivering top customer experience.
Employee empowerment gives employees the authority, responsibility, resources, and freedom to make their own decisions and solve work-related matters. This is crucial as agents are not in the office, and they should be capable of solving issues and taking initiatives within a defined perimeter without constantly having to rely on others’ approval. For instance, a discount offered immediately to customers who experienced an issue will result in more satisfied customers.
In a remote working environment, accessing multiple tools can be taxing for agents or even worse if some are on-premises. A cloud-based contact center software is the best solution that centralizes all digital channels. After logging in, agents can start handling all customer interactions on all channels on the same platform.
With the right tools and convenience, agents are empowered to focus more on improving customer satisfaction, and agent productivity increases.
4. Deflect calls to digital channels
It may come as a surprise that while customers are getting used to interacting via channels like messaging apps, many of them still rely on phone calls because they are not aware of all the digital options available. Call deflection solves this issue.
Managing calls from home can be challenging for agents, especially when they have to maintain a quiet environment. By offering an alternative digital channel when customers call customer service, call deflection reduces customer waiting time and streamlines interaction management for businesses.
Another reason to consider call deflection is that more and more agents are comfortable with and prefer text-based communication—a personal habit that shouldn’t be overlooked. Asynchronous channels are easier to manage as agents can handle more than one interaction at a time remotely from a computer without the need for additional hardware— and background noise is not an issue!
Call deflection can also work with chatbots to complete specific tasks like processing a payment or authenticating users, making it optimal for both customers and companies.
5. Monitor agent productivity and activity remotely
As everyone works from separate locations, monitoring agent productivity and activity can be challenging for supervisors. Cloud-based solutions can significantly benefit a situation like this.
Customer engagement platforms give a holistic view of essential KPIs across all channels, including metrics like average handling time (AHT), customer satisfaction, first-contact resolution, and more.
These analytics from the platform ensures that the customer service objectives are still achieved remotely. Additionally, it can be used to pilot activities like assigning agents to certain tasks in real-time and follow it at an individual level to determine where support is required even when agents are working remotely thus enhancing agent productivity.
Here are a few ways to monitor and track agent productivity in a remote contact center environment and optimize business operations for the best results:
- Have a policy in place for measuring remote agent productivity
- Define KPIs for measuring agent productivity in remote working conditions
- Set milestones for each assigned agent task
- Use project management software and a proven system to track work progress
- Estimate completion time for each task
- Track the time that agents are spending on work
- Implement a solid reporting structure and analyze reports to understand agent performance
- Keep track of call logs, customer satisfaction, handling times, etc.
All the gathered information can help determine the weak and strong areas of agent productivity and where additional training and support may be required.
While allowing contact center representatives to work from home can generate positive results, it may not necessarily mean an increase in productivity. The managers and supervisors must be intentional about the support and resources they provide for these agents to truly benefit from a remote workforce.
Improve agent productivity with contact center software, HGS Agent X.
Prakash Hariharasubramanian, Director & Practice Lead, Intelligent Process Automation (IPA), HGS
Prakash has led various IPA implementations across multiple industry verticals in his tenure of 7 years with HGS. In his role, Prakash develops IPA practice frameworks, creates IPA solutions, and serves as a key automation evangelist for HGS.
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