Eight Tips to Keep Remote Agents Engaged in Their Work
By Brian La Roche, CallMiner
Contact center agents are increasingly drawn to the flexibility offered by remote work as it rises in popularity. From eliminating commute time and noisy office environments to more flexible schedules and a wider range of companies and roles, remote work offers many benefits that agents never had access to before the digital economy. It provides a better work-life balance for them and can have economic benefits for the hiring company.
However, remote work comes with its own set of challenges to compete with the benefits. For remote work to be effective, employees must be engaged and held responsible for a standard of work that could be easily monitored in an office environment but poses a potential risk with an employee working from home. It’s critical that employers are effectively training their remote employees and providing continuous coaching and engagement to ensure employees are delivering the right customer experience on every interaction.
Tips to Keep Remote Agents Engaged
Here are eight tips to keep your remote agents engaged and productive.
- Communicate regularly.
Whether agents sit in a cubicle or their home office, they want to feel like they are an important part of your business or else they will start to lose their drive. Schedule weekly calls with your agent team that give everybody a chance to get to know and interact with each other.This consistent communication builds strong relationships among team members, making ongoing communication easier. As their manager, it is also important that you include at-home employees in all internal communications. If you share updates desk-side, these should also be shared with remote agents via email or chat communication options.
- Set expectations.
Just like in-office agents need to know what is expected of them performance wise, so do at-home agents. Before an agent begins working from home, review performance expectations and set goals for them to meet in their new environment. The metrics used to measure an at-home agent’s performance will probably be different since they may work flexible hours or handle a specific type of incoming call.
- Personalize training.
At-home agents have different struggles, needs, and resources which sometimes requires specific training in regards to customer satisfaction, average handle time, compliance, or even sentiment. It’s important that you not only create remote agent training programs, but that you also personalize training for each specific agent. Review their performance metrics weekly to uncover areas they are struggling with and then require the agents to complete trainings specific to their weakest areas.
- Use gamification.
Gamification is the use of games and technology to offer incentives to employees based on their performance metrics. The idea of gamification encourages agents to use your software solutions, follow scripts, and keep your contact center on track to meet ongoing goals.
- Recognize effort.
Out of sight, out of mind is not a valuable strategy when it comes to managing at-home agents. It is still important to recognize their efforts and ongoing achievements through inter-office emails, on weekly calls, or during meetings. Recognition makes agents feel important and appreciated which is even more important when an agent works from home and doesn’t get to communicate daily with their manager.
- Hire the right agents.
Not every personality is cut out for working at home. If you hire agents that aren’t motivated, it will negatively impact your contact center’s productivity. The great news is that your ideal candidate pool is much larger so it is okay to be picky. Conduct multiple interviews, thoroughly check references, and pay attention to applicants that are capable of navigating an online application process with ease versus those that struggle.
- Offer feedback.
Consistent feedback that tells an agent where they measure up in regards to the expectations you set and overall contact center goals is crucial. Feedback can come in the way of call scoring, but is most beneficial when you implement an automated call scoring system.
Automated call scoring automatically scores 100% of contact center conversations and grades the agents on their performance. The software sends call scoring outcomes in real time to agents, so they know exactly where they need to improve for better results.
- Sell it to your stakeholders.
If work-at-home agents are a new avenue for your contact center, there is a high chance that not everybody will be onboard. Especially agents that still have to report to work every day. It is imperative you gather and collect data over the initial introduction so you can make improvements where necessary and share the results with the non-believers in your company.
Create a Strategy
As remote work continues to grow in popularity, companies must be flexible with their employees and build these eight tips into their workforce strategy. Adaptation to this new normal will take some time, but software like interaction analytics is the easiest method to gather the data you need, track agents’ ongoing performance, and make changes without having to do it all manually.
Brian La Roche is Director, Outreach Marketing for CallMiner. He may be reached at email@example.com.