With major challenges from the transition to working from home, the contact center industry is forced to change.
Customer service is evolving, and contact centers have been forced to rapidly adapt. More than ever before, consumers know and expect more from the companies they support. The COVID-19 crisis has pushed customer representatives and contact center operators across the globe to work from home. As recruiting and hiring also move to a virtual setting, the need for efficient and effective remote hiring at contact centers is extremely important right now.
In this post, we discuss the problems contact centers are struggling with when transitioning to working from home in the COVID-19 era. The top challenges include:
- Needing More Remote Agents
- Hiring the Best Agents
- Transitioning From the Contact Center to Home
- Controlling the Technology
1. Needing More Remote Agents
As the pandemic hit across the world, contact centers’ main concern was making sure service levels didn’t stall as demand greatly increased in certain industries. Spaces like the CDC saw their volume increase 100 times, an impossible burden for the current agents. Contact centers simultaneously had to help their employees move and faced the additional challenge that comes with staffing during a pandemic. As volume continues to increase in some agencies, contact centers are essential in providing customer support and therefore are placing greater emphasis on streamlining their processes and on hiring.
2. Hiring the Best Agents
With the demand spike post-COVID-19, some contact centers had to remotely hire and train hundreds of agents within a few weeks. Even under normal circumstances, the hiring process is limited in its ability to identify the best candidates’. Contact center hiring managers require more effective assessments and hiring tools to accurately judge candidates’ skills, critical competencies, and work behaviors. An expanded group of potential candidates from the lack of geographic constraints involves greater screening time and costs, more room for human error, and an overall lower probability of identifying the best people. Virtual interviews can also pose a problem. While candidates do not need to show up to a specific location, they will have to make sure they installed the right programs, tested microphones and speakers, and be familiar with scheduling programs and video contact software. Under any conditions but especially during the COVID-19 crisis, managers cannot afford these problems.
3. Transitioning From the Contact Center to Home
Most customer service organizations did not have processes in place for training and managing their staff remotely. As a result, the quick, unorganized transition prevented agents from being able to replicate their CX working environment, lacking the necessary hardware and software to field customer service calls. Contact centers were forced to (and struggled to) develop these procedures in order to hygienically ship hardware and software equipment to all workers.
4. Controlling the Technology
Accessing the technology was only part of the problem. In contact centers and most corporations data centers and cloud providers ensure application data resides close to the data center for security and speed. As employees went home, software had to be run on consumer-grade broadband connections with the danger of crashes and slow processing times. T-Mobile’s CIO Cody Sanford was forced to change the company’s cloud routing architecture in order to support the thousands of disparate remote connections. The inability to control the technology leads to unwanted inefficiencies and poorer job performance.
The customer experience is now the virtual experience. According to Gartner, 35% of the customer experience workforce will work from home by 2023, an increase of 5% in 2017. contact centers need to adapt to the changes in business continuity planning, labor practices, and the challenges brought by COVID-19. Managing the transition to working from home and increase in volume involve focusing on the importance of remote hiring. The best hiring practices will identify the most qualified candidates, leading to significantly less turnover and increased job performance.
For more information on current industry challenges in contact center recruiting, read about the turnover problems in the contact center industry.