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12 Tips For Managing Remote Call Center Agents

Updated: Jun 24, 2021

The world is changing, or rather, the world is evolving. People now favor working from the comfort of their homes, as opposed to a physical location. This is best illustrated by the growing number of legitimate home-based jobs in society today. The preference for legit online jobs, in Customer Support, Copy-writing, Proofreading, etc. is sky-rocketing, and this is not surprising at all, as the world is going virtual. In a similar fashion, call and contact centers are also going remote.

12 tips for managing remote call center agents in 2021 and beyond

So what are remote call centers?

Call centers, generally, are operations that are responsible for handling calls with the customers of a business, both incoming and outgoing calls. Call centers are predominantly physical customer services.

Remote call centers, just like call centers with a physical location, are also responsible for handling inbound and outbound calls, emails, chat and support tickets. Unlike traditional call centers, remote call centers utilize agents that work remotely rather than in a physical office environment.

Remote call center agents use virtual contact center tools to interact with team members and the customers of the firm. The interactions are done online.

There are several benefits to hiring a remote team, some of which are:

Higher flexibility in schedules:

Nowadays, call centers often operate all throughout the day. Customers can call at any time of the day and get attended to. Running a system like this can become particularly challenging with physical call-centers, especially in light of current pandemic. With remote call centers, operating an all-day customer service operation is not only more feasible but more convenient as well. There is greater flexibility in work schedules and it is easier to have agents working from the comfort of their homes at 2 am than to have them working in an office.

Increased productivity:

Having to go to an office to work can be particularly challenging for some. Many people have to wake up very early, combine their domestic responsibilities with getting ready for work, spend hours in traffic, etc. They often end up being tired and stressed before starting the day’s work, leading to reduced productivity. Mothers for example, have to combine the stress of nursing children with getting prepared to head out for work. Working as a remote agent is one of the best work from home jobs for moms, as they can handle their domestic responsibilities without the additional stress of commuting for work.

Better workers:

Remote agents do not meet or interact with customers in a physical location. They can be anywhere in the world. This serves as an added advantage when hiring the agents, as the firm is not limited to just locals or people in that region. They get access to the best agents from all over the world.

Lower operational costs:

Remote agents typically make use of their gadgets and tools when working. They also work from their comfortable locations. This limits the burden on the company, financially, as the company does not have to pay exorbitant prices for real estate or maintenance of tools. This also helps the company to remain competitive in offering the best rates to clients.

Essentials to managing remote call center agents

While the general idea of a remote call center is not complicated, the transition from a physical call center to a remote call center is not as straightforward, though. A lot of things, or essentials, have to be considered and put in place to make sure the transition is successful. Below are twelve of the essentials to managing remote call center agents.

1. Take full advantage of video conferencing

The general idea of a remote call center is working from a remote location. All the agents are not in the same place. At times, the agents may even be in different countries or continents. It, therefore, becomes impossible to communicate through regular physical meetings like with regular 9-5 jobs. This is where video conferencing comes into play.

There are applications and software programs for video conferencing (Zoom for example). The video calls help to bring people who may never meet physically together, and this is important, as it makes every agent feel like part of one big body.

2.Develop and inculcate a strong company culture

Strong company culture is needed in all businesses and this is what we strive for at Cube&Arrow. Developing and inculcating one in remote companies are considerably more difficult because of the distance. Workers and agents are not present physically, and this may create a gulf or disconnect between the agents and the company. This disconnect may end up affecting the company severely if not correctly managed.

When developing your company culture, the following factors must be taken into consideration:

a. The mission of the company: Every manager of the company must have a clear idea of what the company aims at achieving. This piece of information is not limited to managers alone, though, as agents must also be informed of the company’s mission.

b. The agents of the company: Considering the agents of the company when developing a company culture is non-negotiable. Agents are a vital part of the company, and adequate provisions have to be made for them regarding the company’s culture.

The customers of the company: A firm cannot stand without customers. Everyone in the company needs to have a clear idea of how customers should be treated before, during, and after business transactions.

With a strong company culture, everyone in the company will feel connected. It will ultimately be like one central body, as opposed to several different bodies scattered across the world.

3. Utilize collaboration tools

There are several tools that enable agents of the company and the managers to collaborate- Zoom, Slack, Skype just to name a few. There are other tools that we will discuss at a later time that make the collaboration process much easier. The team of agents, though not physically connected, can be more interactive than the representatives in a traditional office space.

Team unity and harmony are essential to the success of any business, and call centers are not excluded. These collaboration tools will make it easier for the agents in the team to share information amongst one another, and with the heads of the company.

The call center platform the company uses should have communication tools. There may be times where agents need to work together on a project; these communication tools will come in handy.

4. Gamification

Gamification, in simple terms, is the process of adding games or the likes to a task to promote participation in that particular task. Everyone loves games, everyone loves prizes, so it only makes sense to take advantage of this in increasing productivity amongst call center agents. Gamifying customer service involves the use of specific rewards and recognition to agents that perform best in the call center. Gamification drives a positive competitive spirit, and this is important in increasing productivity.

Gamification also makes workers happy and motivated, and according to a study conducted in 2015, happy workers are markedly more productive than non-happy or unhappy workers by as much as 12 percent.

The rewards to be earned is left to the manager of the call center agents to decide. The rewards could be financial or non-financial. Giving raises or some amount of money is useful. Non-financial rewards like better schedules, longer breaks, actual prizes, vacation, etc. are also useful.

5. Proper training of agents

Agents have to be adequately trained in any call center, given that any mistake can be detrimental to the business. In physical call centers, newer agents can interact with more experienced agents and gain invaluable information. The same applies even more to remote call centers because of the distance. Team leads and campaign managers need to be actively involved and ensure that remote agents are fully assimilated.

Agents must be appropriately trained before they interact with customers. This applies to both remote and physical contact centers. The company should have a trial period for new agents to ensure they understand the rudiments of the job. Training can and should also be done while working. This training can be done through collaboration tools that were previously mentioned.

6. Monitor the customer service being provided to clients.

Customers are always right, goes the popular saying. Customer service is undoubtedly critical to the success of any business. In light of this, monitoring customer service is a must. The manager of the company should get feedback from customers periodically to know exactly how they feel about the services rendered by the agents. This feedback will be crucial in evaluating agents and drawing out areas of improvement. The feedback can be obtained through texts, calls, or even physical meetings, if possible.

There are also several analytical devices and tools to monitor and track the satisfaction of customers. Managers should ensure they take full advantage of these tools, as happy customers promote business growth.

7. Get feedback from agents

It is not enough to have feedback from customers. Feedback from agents is also crucial. The manager needs to know how the agents feel about the job. This feedback is essential as it makes the agents feel like they are genuinely part of the company. Feedback from agents is crucial to the growth of the company, as dissatisfaction from the side of the agents will result in decreased productivity by the agents.

8. Provide agents with all they need

This probably goes without saying. Agents need to be provided with all the tools they need to make their job easy and efficient. Most legitimate home-based jobs often involve the workers utilizing personal tools, but this is not always the case with remote call center agents. Operating a call center remotely requires additional tools. Poor internet connection, outdated software programs, etc., can harm the company. Managers should ensure agents have all they need to work effectively.

9. Create and stick to a schedule

A schedule is critical in remote work. Conventional physical jobs are typically in the confines of 9-5. Remote work can also be fixed but in most instances they operate on a 24/7 basis and agents are working at any time of the day. The flexibility of the agents hired enables the company to offer 24/7 services. It all starts with creating the perfect schedule. Upon creation of the schedule, managers should ensure they stick to it. Don’t take advantage of the agents working from home and creep in additional tasks outside of the schedule and assigned role, as that will only cause friction between you and the agents.

10. Steady communication

Communication is vital in any business, but it is particularly tricky when the workers are thousands of miles away. Management should regularly communicate with the team members of the company. Communication does not have to be every day, but consistency is the key. The communication can be done through calls, texts, or video calls. Remember this, communication helps to foster unity within the company.

11. Know your limits

As a remote call center you should be fully aware of your agent count at all times. At Cube&Arrow Inc we believe in building a great relationship with all our clients as a result we choose quality over quantity. We ensure that the management team is equipped with the necessary tools and personnel to manage and effectively monitor the team. This ensures that our clients are able to reach out to the person/s in charge without having to go through several lines of management to handle a simple query.

12. Recognize agents

All workers want to feel like part of the company. They want to feel recognized. The same applies for remote call center agents. One way of increasing productivity in the company is recognizing the efforts of agents. Even if there are concerns or issues with the work of a particular agent, start by recognizing the good that the agent is doing for the company. Recognition should be sincere and individualized for the agents.

Managing remote call center agents is not an easy task, but it is not impossible. Following the essentials above will not only make the transition from hiring physical to remote call center agents smooth but it will also make the move successful.

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