This is not the time for any company or executive to be vaunting the superiority of their respective solutions or service offerings. The world as we have known it has changed markedly over the past two months. March has been a blur. No contact center professional has slept well since the outset of COVID. They know that business-as-usual simply will not cut it when it comes to ensuring strong consumer management until this crisis is finally over.
This is why the work-at-home model’s attributes have become so evident. Recent struggles are forcing even former skeptics of its potential. Bricks-and-mortar has by all accounts been punished by the onslaught of COVID. The time for a more practical way of delivering customer experience with virtualized agents is now.
Let’s look at the facts. For the foreseeable future, there is no viable way for traditional contact centers to operate as they have. Until the COVID pandemic has been at least stabilized, it is hard to imagine any executive will want to assemble large numbers of employees together in an interior workspace, where the risk of contagion is too great. And ongoing regulation may prevent this from happening, in order to limit the virus’ spread. The cost of screening agents, supervisors and managers is also significant, as is augmenting the facilities needed to prevent the spread of infection (like more hand-sanitizer stations, increasing the frequency and depth of cleaning and taking on the space needed for social distancing agents from each other).
But, as we all know, business goes on even in disruptive times. Consumers have questions that need answers, and the companies that they buy from cannot come up short. It is times like these that enterprises need to exceed customer expectations for service. But, with bricks-and-mortar operators clearly limited over the course of COVID, the possibility of harnessing a motivated workforce that can operate from home simply makes sense.
Home-working ticks the right boxes for enterprise contact center managers as they attempt to ensure the right quality service to end-users. With agents working exclusively from their residences, the risk of exposure is effectively zero.
To be clear, this is not to say that a home-based brand ambassador will not be exposed to COVID in the course of their daily lives. But, they will not be in a contact center work environment. And, if the home-based agent workforce is virtualized across the United States, enterprises can access the largest possible pool of talent, one that brings linguistic capabilities, functional expertise, and vertical familiarity. This contrasts sharply with traditional facilities, which are certain to see their agent population diminish over the short term in the face of self-quarantining and ever-increasing regulation on the numbers of people assembled in one place.
So, how best to take advantage of home-working for an enterprise that wants to ensure the integrity of the loyalty of its consumers? Practically speaking, while this is a way of delivering customer experience that is operationally straightforward, recruiting, training and deploying a virtual labor force is not something that can be done in short order. Therefore, it is imperative that interested executives work with a provider that not only offers work-at-home solutions, but one that has the experience needed to ramp up the best possible agents quickly. This is vital to maintaining the high-quality levels of service that end-users expect. It is essential to find the right partner that has the processes and technology in place alongside talent that will drive the best possible outcomes.
We collectively await the conclusion of the COVID nightmare. In the meantime, work-at-home is the key to getting through the current customer experience challenge.