CT Pros Blog

How to be an Effective Remote-Based Contact Center Manager

Oct 13, 2020

 

Managing a contact center team becomes a bit trickier when you or your agents are remote. Managers still must balance customer needs and agent capabilities while facing a new mix of technological challenges and concerns. Being apart can create breakdowns in traditional workflows and introduce new concerns at all operational levels. 

Thankfully, there are some best practices and platforms you can use to make the most of a tough situation. If you’re working apart from your team, here are our thoughts on how to achieve high levels of customer service and high-quality performance. 

 

Take Time to Engage with Your Employees 

Remote contact center management comes with its own set of challenges when compared to how a traditional contact center is ran.  

Perhaps the biggest is that leaders and managers can lack visibility into their agents’ moods and the struggles or frustrations they face. There’s no effortless way to pop over to someone’s desk to ask a question or have an open-door policy that allows people to stop by as needed. Remote work removes some of the immediate, in-person attention that teams may need. 

To address this, managers need to take proactive steps to engage with staff. Create standardized group interactions beyond just meetings and look for ways you can engage with team members individually. Something as simple as sending an instant message to an agent to ask about their day can help. 

Turn this into a staff habit by mandating check-ins, such as providing call logs and daily reports.  

Managers can use these to check for changes in employee behaviors or results. You might be able to identify a pattern in performance or an area of need. Staying on top of these documents can help you protect your employees and head off any issues before they cause long-term concerns. 

If you’re struggling with connection or monitoring for your team, look at unified communications (UC) tools for a quick way to interact and engage. These platforms make it easy to send a simple message to ask someone how they are. 

In the world of remote work, it’s easy to have people feel isolated and alone. Managers are responsible for counteracting this by providing a positive, team-focused atmosphere that counteracts these concerns and creates engagement. Lead by example by using tools that are available and encourage others to do the same to ensure that communication is strong and active. 

 

Redefine your training processes 

Training is essential in your contact center, and it sets the stage for overall success. Your employees need to go through your training process and actively participate so that they can do their best and understand policies and technology. 

Many companies are no longer offering in-person training events and activities. The same is true for many contact centers that are moving to remote settings to gain access to a greater diversity of talent

Teams that span the globe require a mix of remote training sessions.  Build out a full-fledged training regimen with different time zones in mind and consider offering additional training materials that allow agents to move at their own pace. 

This can include tests and reviews to ensure that employees can demonstrate a high level of proficiency and understanding. Additional training could be conducted through live events to encourage discussion and allow teams to ask questions. 

You can also turn to existing collaboration tools for training that need a more “hands on” approach, such as webinars,video calls, and screen recordings. 

To make the training process less daunting, Focus on small progressions. This could help encourage people to complete the training, especially if rewards are tied to overall progress. This method is called gamification and it is proven to improve training success, engagement and lesson retention. 

 

Create and share your most valuable metrics, including why they matter 

Contact centers always operate around performance, and going remote doesn’t change that. What it will impact is the need for you to make it clear with agents about what metrics are essential and why. 

Remote contact centers can sometimes come with fewer clues to the overall satisfaction, engagement, and capabilities of your team. You can’t walk around the office to see who is paying attention to their smartphone or who is looking frustrated with their calls that day. Data is vital because it can help you judge someone’s capabilities and success while also highlighting potential issues. 

To ensure that the evaluation process feels fair, managers should clearly define what matters most to your overall mission and for individual agents. Tell the team what you’re checking and how it directly impacts them. 

 

Examples of what your targets and goals should look like: 

 

  • Reducing call abandonment rate - This isn’t necessarily something any individual agent can accomplish. However, their performance for this goal may be judged based on the average speed of an answer or average handle time. 

  • Lower the average after-call work time - If you’ve brought on a new call center system to speed up processes and cut budgets, tell your team this goal and that you expect to see improvements in this area. 

  • Increase in customer satisfaction levels –  Customer satisfaction is an important metric to every company, but it is also measured in many ways. That is why it is important to tell your agents how you rate this. For example, if there is a 30 second survey a customer fills out that determines this metric, that should be brought to the agents’ attention. 

 

Build off past work to improve contact center metrics, and see about leveraging the right technology to support your remote team. Contact center platforms can be helpful not only in collecting this data but showing it as well. If dashboards can help employees see where they’re behind, they may take more proactive steps to address issues. 

 

Cloud contact center solutions can make a difference 

Cloud solutions that are designed for contact centers can help you tackle specific issues that your agents may be facing. It also comes with features that could help you manage daily activities and identify what your staff needs such as data gathering, analyzing performance metrics, flagging calls from repeat customers, and identifying which calls go on for too long. 

You may also want to identify where your company needs greater engagement and try to find a system for these channels. Thankfully, many now offer more robust features such as omnichannel functionality — social media engagement, SMS texting, email, website chat, and more. You want to cover the channels customers use and ensure that supervisors and managers can monitor agents and interactions easily. 

We recommend that companies put at least their contact center in the cloud. If there are restrictions with moving other business operations to the cloud you can employ a hybrid approach to ensure those operations remain on-premise. 

 

Get help when you need it 

Managing a contact center is difficult, but the right mix of technology and training can ease that burden. Instead of trying to do it all yourself, turn to trusted, reliable partners who can access your needs and make suggestions based on where you want your agents and performance to be. 

 

7 practical tips for your day-to-day 

 To conclude, we have gathered 7 take-aways that should be considered while managing a remote contact center. We based this list on our partnerships, customers, and own experience with contact center and agent management. 

 

1. Engage teams regularly. 

Set a consistent cadence for all meetings and check-ins. Mix requirements such as video calls, voice calls, project management updates, and emails. Include team-building activities and Q&A sessions

2. Reinforce measurements.  

The metrics that you identified earlier should not only be made public, but also discussed regularly in meetings that review performance specifically. 

3. Hold agents accountable with data.  

If someone is underperforming or having issues, discuss it with them, and show proof. Make your case and demonstrate how someone can improve — it protects you, the company, and gives staff a clear goal for success. 

4. Set aside time to be available for staff.  

Go beyond being approachable and let everyone know that you’ve got openings on your schedule just for them when needed. Think of it as virtual open office hours. 

5. Stick to schedules.  

Even if you know your team is at home and could come in a few minutes early, they shouldn’t. Don’t ask for this because turning schedule creep into a habit can negate the morale benefits of going remote

6. Give yourself time.  

Managers need to take high-level approaches to their goals, too. That can mean reviewing large sets of customer and staff data, which takes time. Even if you’re remote, you need dedicated time to get your work done. Create space in your schedule to look at feedback, satisfaction surveys, and other essential information to improve your entire operation. 

7. Ask your team what they need and see if you can help.  

Work with your team to identify problems they’re facing in general as well as those unique to remote work. Address what you can and ask leadership for help on larger items. Show your team that you’ll take care of them, and they’re more likely to keep turning out great performances. 

 

Converged Technology Professionals can offer the advice you need, especially if you’re struggling with the move to a remote team. Get a free demo to see what’s out there or just ask for more information about moving your contact center to the cloud. Our experts can help with full cloud migration or smaller projects to add a contact center solution to your existing phone system. 

 

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