Balancing CX Needs Between Facilities and Work-From-Home – Stephen Copage, CEO The Workloop
Many in customer experience management felt there was a standard formula when it came to how interactions were delivered to consumers. According to that view, most operators would house the bulk of their workstations in a physical contact center, and perhaps shift a small amount of work to agents working from home. My, how things have changed!
Today, in the COVID19 atmosphere, there has been a clear proof of concept with work-at-home agents driving strong interactions with consumers, either by voice or digital channel. Sometimes, it takes a crisis to demonstrate the value of alternative business models, and certainly this is one of those times. To be clear, home-based agents have always had a very strong reputation. Now going forward, they will form a much bigger part of customer experience management.
But, is the contact center set to die? The answer is an emphatic No!
As the head of an upstart front-office BPO, I am a big believer in the power of the contact center as a place of community. I am thrilled to see members of our team thrive in our premises, feeding off the positivity of each other’s energy. Every day I see people learning from one another in a positive, cooperative fashion. Obviously, the pandemic has put a temporary halt to this dynamic, which is both unfortunate and sad. But, post-COVID19 there are compelling reasons to think that there will be a shift back into contact centers. The return of agents to call centers will need to be balanced with the application of work-at-home agents.
Granted, not all enterprises will want contact center services delivered by home-based agents. There are a number of reasons for this. Much of it comes down to company culture. Home working is viewed more favorably by some enterprises more than others. Then, there is the question of regulation. There are a lot of sectors that are subject to compliance standards, and that will prevent home working for some or all of their functions. And what about the contact center facilities themselves? So many operators have spent large amounts of money setting up their delivery sites with the best technology, ergonomic furnishings and environmentally-friendly construction. Recouping the return on this investment will definitely remain a priority.
Then there is the agent factor. No one should automatically assume that contact center team members that were sent home from facilities to work remotely do not want to have at least some access to a physical site. A recent study by 5th Talent highlighted this fact. In their survey of 4,000 agents in several countries, over half the respondents stated that they would like to come back into the contact center at least part of the work week. And, while the reasons for this are certain to vary depending on the individual, collectively a majority see value in working in a contact center.
Times have changed, and the pandemic has made contact center operators more mindful of the benefits of home working. The key for any customer experience professional will be to determine how much capacity belongs in a remote setting and the amount needed to be performed on site. There is no magic formula, and a lot depends on the individual company. But, recognizing this fact and planning accordingly is an essential first step.