Maintaining call center efficiency can sometimes seem like an impossibly daunting task; while preserving – and increasing – customer satisfaction, employee effectiveness and overall organization, one may believe that throwing virtualization into the mix will only drag things down into further chaos. This is where call center managers’ critical roles come into play. By implementing the proper practices, call center managers can make a huge difference and impact on services, and will discover that transitioning to and handling a virtual call center will only secure and increase business continuity.
You want to make sure that your call center is running smoothly and efficiently, and when put in a managerial position, you must be sure that employees are fully supervised and supported while still scouting potential candidates and creating, developing and executing innovative training programs and incentives to keep momentum up. Needless to say, there’s a lot which needs to be done, but when done right, everything easily falls into place.
“Management of contact centers is often referred to as ‘chaos management,’ with all the moving parts involved in running a contact center. The presence of home-based agents, most of whom may live hundreds, if not thousands of miles away from HQ, can multiply those challenges,” explains this Working Solutions (News - Alert) blog.
When considering implementing a virtual call center, there will obviously be some challenges to face, as with any business. Here are some ways to avoid chaotic management and to successfully carry out a virtual call center as a virtual call center manager:
Just because virtual agents are not physically present doesn’t mean they don’t need full training. It might be tempting, considering the age-old saying, “out of sight, out of mind,” but it’s crucial to make sure that you don’t cut corners when it comes to training your virtual call center workers. While these workers are typically characterized by their self-motivation and willingness to learn, managers must still track their training to make sure that their needs are being met and to provide them with the proper motivation needed to promote professional and personal growth.
“If an agent is having difficulty with a task, ask him what his perspective is and try to come to a solution together. Encourage agents to discuss any concerns and questions they have with other tasks. Doing so helps to build a strong bond between agents and their manager,” says this related Working Solutions blog from earlier this year.
Keeping an eye on your off-site agents is essential to maintain a strong connection between the agent and the company. You want to make sure that when your virtual workers’ journey with you is done, they will leave satisfied and happy to share their experience rather than relieved that it’s finally over.
Incentives are key to keeping agent productivity high, but what happens when your agents are not present to enjoy them? Yes, there are intangible types of incentives, such as earning a half-day or day off, but incentives become inevitably complicated when certain parts of your staff seem to be M.I.A. So what can you do? When implementing a virtual call center, integrating video conferencing solutions to keep incentives strong is very wise. This sustains the “management by walking around” method, which promotes physical presence and public acknowledgements ranging from day’s goals to major company milestones to personal greetings and birthdays. From that same earlier blog post, Working Solutions explains how this can allow managers to provide off-site agents with the proper time and attention they need, as well as enable them to reach out to managers comfortably and as needed.
Create a sense of community among staff members, putting great emphasis on those who work outside of the main call center location. Leveraging social media is the perfect way to do this. Putting your employees at the forefront of business efforts means creating a personal, interwoven web of employee interactions and comfort. This can get very tricky when staffing agents hundreds or thousands of miles away. This is where tools such as Facebook (News - Alert) or Skype can come in quite handy, allowing agents to interact closely with one another as well as with their call center managers – even when they are remote. Taking advantage of this 21rst century practice will prove undoubtedly beneficial.
“With more and more companies realizing the financial and productivity benefits of remote contact centers, and more professional workers seeking out opportunities to work out of the home, the near future will undoubtedly see more advances in remote contact center technology and management best practices,” concludes Working Solutions.
The following tips and tricks will surely leave you confident that your call center won’t suffer at the hands of geographical dispersion, but will rather thrive as a result.
8x8 (News - Alert) Inc. is a Platinum sponsor of ITEXPO West 2012. To be held Oct. 2-5 at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, TX, ITEXPO (News - Alert) offers an educational program to help corporate decision makers select the right IP-based voice, video, fax and unified communications solutions to improve their operations.
Edited by Rich Steeves