Nearly 100 people were infected with coronavirus in a Seoul call center, forming the biggest COVID-19 cluster to date in Seoul, South Korea.
Call centers are literally a hotspot for infectious outbreaks because they typically have large numbers of people on a single floor.
Many businesses have already asked their staff to work from home to reduce the potential spread of the coronavirus amongst their employees. Last Friday, March 13, Cloudflare's co-founder and CEO Matthew Prince sent out an email to all its customers noting a 10% increase in Internet usage patterns in regions impacted by COVID-19. Peak Internet traffic has surged 30% in Italy which has had a national lockdown.
If your system does not allow your employees to work from home, you have to figure out a contingency plan so you can continue to monitor your employees and route calls even when they're at home.
Are You Prepared To Have All Your Agents Work From Home?
Even if you already have work-from-home capabilities for your agents, you have to consider the impact of having ALL your agents work from home.
You need to determine the impact on your work processes and how they can subsequently affect customer experience.
To manage agents who are working from home, there are some factors that need to be in place.
1. Ensure your agents have the technology infrastructure they need
Virtual desktops are essential for remote agents to perform their tasks as if they were in the office.
There are virtual desktop integrator platforms that allow businesses to take control of the computer until the agent logs off the platform. This helps to prevent information fraud and strengthen data security.
You can allow your agents to bring their office headsets and other equipment home over the period of the coronavirus crisis.
Shopify is allowing its employees to take home their laptops and computers, and giving each employee $1,000 to purchase any office supplies they need to work from home.
2. Set communication guidelines
Communication is more challenging with remote work.
Set guidelines on how your agents should communicate with your managers and with each other. Many tools such as Microsoft Skype for Business and Cisco WebEx are available for this.
Your managers should also schedule regular check-ins with agents to keep communication channels open.
3. Set measures to effectively monitor your agents
It's even more important to be able to monitor your agents' performance since your managers will not sit near your agents and help them with difficult calls.
You need effective call center analytics software for this, and NeoSound Intelligence's dashboards give you a quick overview of how your agents are doing on their calls.
The dashboards show various performance metrics and agents' KPIs (key performance indicators), e.g. the proportion of calls that are emotional or silent for each agent, and the most popular stopwords they are using in their calls.
Emotional calls are calls where the customer is using a very emotional tone, possibly indicating that they are upset or unhappy. On the other hand, silent calls have longer pauses which may indicate that your agent spends significant time trying to find the best answer to the customer. This indicates he or she may need more education in certain topics to address customer questions more efficiently and reduce average handle time.
NeoSound’s solution analyses each call to help the company to find the communication gaps, detect the areas of improvement and efficiently coach the agents on the best-discovered samples.
NeoSound also allows you to set up stopwords to flag out words and phrases that you do not want your agents to be using, and set up compliance words that you want your agents to use. It then assigns a compliance rate so you can easily see which agents need more guidance on best practice.
With these technical capabilities, you can quickly see which agents need more help to uphold communication standards and your managers can follow up with the agents accordingly.
Ultimately this improves communication between the company and consumers, and increases customer satisfaction in these challenging times when we all have to do our best to organise our remote business operations.
We Can Get Through This and Get Stronger
Let's hope that humanity will overcome this crisis as we have survived other pandemics and crises in the past.
Having employees work from home can help us re-examine our work processes and business resiliency for a stronger business. This way they save on commute time and the planet benefits from reduced emissions from transportation and resource wastage caused by traffic.
In the screenshot below, NASA Earth Observatory found that nitrogen dioxide over China plummeted with the coronavirus quarantines as businesses shut down for the crisis.
NO2 amounts have dropped with the coronavirus quarantine, Chinese New Year, and a related economic slowdown.
Crisis brings transformation, and as the world heals, let’s believe that everyone will emerge stronger from the crisis.