It’s clear remote working is here to stay, but there are challenges, especially for customer service centres – Natterbox CEO Neil Hammerton offers tips and solutions
The concept of remote working was set to become a reality for most organisations over the next decade. But due to the current global health crisis, the speed in which businesses have rolled out virtual offices has increased significantly.
Technological advancements in recent years have meant many businesses were already operating a flexible, remote working structure successfully. But this type of working doesn’t come without its challenges. The very sudden need to accommodate entire workforces from remote locations is something that many organisations did not have the opportunity to prepare for.
Ensuring all employees, particularly those in customer-facing roles, have access to the communication channels and data that they would otherwise have in an office should still be a top priority for many organisations.
Long-Distance Customer Relationships
Over the past decade, the development of hot-desking and co-operative workplaces has changed the dynamic and added a dimension of flexibility to the office. This meant organisations needed to expand the technology services available to their staff to allow for mobile computing, so employees could be connected at any desk and be supported by the tools they needed to do their jobs well. All this gives workers the flexibility to move around the office environment.
Within this same time frame, though, emerging technologies led to a further understanding, particularly among sales teams, that meeting customers face-to-face and commuting to the office were time and cost-inefficient exercises no longer essential for the job.
But the ability to manage a fully remote workforce hasn’t quite kept pace with its popularity. It has, in fact, proven to be a growing challenge for businesses, with many scrambling to adopt vital solutions to maintain business as usual. This is especially true for the customer-facing workforce dealing in sales or customer service. For those with contact centres, many servicing clients have needed them more than ever due to issues arising from the ongoing unusual circumstances, from boiler issues to insurance claims.
As we are faced with a potential future of permanent remote working, the key question is: how have and will organisations continue to deliver a service, when they themselves are also having to implement new working policies to adapt to this new way of life?
Adapting To A New Way Of Life
It’s not as simple as someone being able to log on from home. There is depth to this and, for contact centres especially, this extends to their phone system capabilities and configuration, not just for redirecting calls to mobiles but for handling call queues and hunt groups effectively.
Communication is a vital productivity enabler no matter how dispersed our workforces are. So, when face-to-face communication is rare, picking up the phone is a crucial way of building and maintaining relationships with customers, resolving challenging or complex issues, or simply ensuring the team is fully connected and engaged and not isolated.
When access to an office is simply not an option, there are many technologies available that enable the customer-facing workforce to maintain a consistent level of service. One answer lies in intelligent telecommunications technology, which is rapidly advancing and transforming how and where people work, shifting the concept of flexibility to that of freedom. In fact, new cloud-supported interfaces are already available to give users the ability to work from anywhere, on whichever device they want.
These interfaces can give customer service agents control of who can contact them (for example allowing all calls or just VIP callers) and on whichever device, whether that’s their work or personal phones, with speed. They can also enable agents to set a different number as Caller ID for outgoing calls and choose additional numbers on which to receive incoming calls.
Agents on the move or working from remote locations can benefit from the same functionality on their mobile device as in the office, with all data being shared back into the business’ CRM system.
Office-Based Functionality – Without The Office
This capability not only improves the efficiency and personalisation of future communications with customers but eliminates employee admin time. Businesses could also benefit from the increased productivity of their newly remote workforce and from knowing that their CRM information is always 100 per cent up to date.
Organisations have experienced an immediate industry-wide business continuity full-test scenario that has and will continue to expose a great many flaws in their technology. In these turbulent times, organisations need intelligent measures that can be deployed with ease and speed, enabling business leaders to focus on more pressing matters at hand. An intelligent phone system is one of the tools that can help. Rendering location irrelevant, businesses can rest assured their employees have the tools they need for seamless communication both within the organisation and outbound to customers and potential customers.