How to improve your contact centre efficiency in the era of work from home

As COVID-19 brings in unexpected levels of stress, contact centres are under more pressure than ever before. Here’s how they can improve their performance for the ‘new’ normal.
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The COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it unexpected levels of stress, anxiety, and fear for businesses across the globe. And the contact centres aren't insulated from the realities of this global situation.

In fact, they are under more pressure than ever before as due to global panic, they are bearing the brunt of customers’ concern and anxiety. While this pandemic is beyond the control of the contact centres, efficiency needn't be something that declines, too.

Contact centre leaders are quickly discovering that if they want to withstand any potential impact on the business, then they need to have a strategy to not just survive but thrive in this remote environment.

In light of that, here are a few tips on how to improve your contact centre performance in the future that is more cloudy than clear.

1. Deepen your commitment to being empathetic towards customers 

We all know that satisfied customers drive business success. But do you know that higher empathy can lead to increased customer satisfaction and better financial performance too?

According to one research conducted by HBR, the top 10 most empathetic companies increased their value more than twice as much as the bottom 10 and generated 50 percent more earnings. 

While most businesses are already practising empathy, what makes your business different? Or as Seth Godin says, what makes you “remarkable”? Well, you need to shift from superficial empathy to “genuine concern” – you have to anticipate and try to calibrate your customers’ emotions as much as possible in order to respond to customer needs.

The first step to do that is to understand how the customer feels by making sure you’re spending enough time listening to your customers and their individual concerns.

Secondly, you have to try to cultivate that “we’re all in this together” feeling.

Remember that due to coronavirus, not just your business but your customers are also facing challenging times. Ensure that you provide empathy in every action to show your customers that they matter – your customers will remember this long after COVID-19 leading to an increase in customer loyalty and retention.


2. Keep a check on your agents

Most contact centres tend to focus on providing an excellent customer experience while forgetting about the “stars” of the show — the agents. Don’t be one of them.

Working from home can be stressful for your agents especially in these increasingly unmooring circumstances where loneliness is creeping in everyone’s life.

Do you know that 19 percent of fully-remote employees say loneliness is their biggest struggle when working remotely? And your agents are no exception. While most leaders are shrugging and thinking that their agents are just anxious – you shouldn’t.

Why?

Because loneliness has been proven to be as dangerous as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Making it crucial for contact centre leaders to implement strategies that foster a sense of teamwork, reduce anxiety and feelings of isolation among their agents.

Here’re two such strategies:

  • Use instant messaging tools to stay connected with your agents in this remote working environment. And, yes don’t take a cookie-cutter approach. Try to know your agents’ personalities and priorities to motivate and bring out the best in them.   
  • Add a personal touch to your meeting by using video calls as there’s a lot of power in face-to-face communication. Observe your agents in these calls so that you can provide them with constructive feedback for improvement.

Your agents are as important as your customers. No matter what comes up, if you nurture them you have a better chance to improve your business overall efficiency and survive these tough times.

3. Start planning for the future

With COVID-19 continuing to peak around the globe, remote working is here to stay. While most contact centres have pretty much figured out how to work from home by now but that doesn’t mean they are well prepared for the future. Are you?

The role of the contact centre is constantly evolving – and if you’re simply focussing on servicing clients, you won’t be able to sustain in the coming future. Start preparing for the future by creating a strategy that can help your cost centre to become a revenue-generating centre rather than just a service centre.

Now the question is how to do that? Well, by focussing on customer satisfaction and engagement related initiatives - ones that clearly correlate with an increase in sales.

Also, try to reduce your customer effort by creating an omnichannel strategy – one that supports interactions across channels like web chat, email, social media, and messaging apps such as WhatsApp.

Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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