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Ensuring Effective Communication When Customer Service Agents Work From Home

November 2, 2020
Ensuring Effective Communication When Customer Service Agents Work From Home

Work from home is a hot topic, whether seen as an opportunity or an obstacle. Many businesses are required to have some employees work from home, either because of local health regulations or because of an internal policy of employee safety.

When customer service agents work from home, things get particularly tricky. Service reps never work in isolation, as it is their job definition to be constantly communicating – with customers and colleagues. Below, we'll examine agent communications more closely and suggest methods to ensure they remain effective.

Agent-Customer Communication

It is the primary duty of service reps to interact to customers. These interactions take place over different channels, such as phone calls, chat and messaging, video, and social media. Each of these channels presents its unique challenges:

  • Voice – requires a quiet environment. Good audio equipment can filter out a lot of ambient noise, but it will not be highly effective if a kid starts to cry in the same room as the agent.
  • Video – requires a professional-looking background. Many video platforms can take care of this – to an extent. It also requires agents to wear proper attire – not the usual WFH pajamas.
  • Social, chat, and other textual media are easier to handle at home. Just make sure your cat does not jump on the keyboard.

Agent-Colleague Communication

You might think this is easier than talking to customers, but many employers cite internal communications and collaboration as the biggest downside of working from home. Here too, there are different types of communication, each presenting other challenges.

  • Consultations – are often informal, ad-hoc discussion. An agent working in the office might leave their seat and reach out to a nearby manager to ask a question – which they cannot do when working from home.
  • Learning – is a natural part of every agent's work, as the knowledge required to respond to customer requests constantly evolves. Indeed employees are probably used to self-learning using LMS systems, but doing this in isolation is still more difficult.
  • Handing cases over – occurs when a customer request has to be transferred to an agent who is more knowledgeable or better suited to handle it than the one who received it in the first place.

Tying Everything Together Is The Real Challenge

We can think of a solution to each of the specific difficulties discussed – either a technology or a method. However, the big challenge is making all of these solutions work together. In other words, we are talking about workflow.

According to a recent article in CustomerThink magazine, "More importantly in remote and future work-from-home scenarios, digital transformation and workflow mean that regardless of where a customer service agent (or any other employee is, for that matter), work can continue."

This is where Customer-Centric BPM (business process management) takes the driver's seat. By managing the workflow of handling the customer's case and customer-agent communications, such a BPM solution can provide the following benefits:

  • Bridging the gap between different communication platforms, enabling a seamless transfer of cases between agents who handle different channels.
  • Automating the transfer of cases from self-service channels to service reps and from reps to back-office staff, making the process quicker and error-proof.
  • Routing customer calls while considering not only agent skills but also WFH constraints and offline tasks workload.
  • Automatically messaging customers based on events, such as letting them know an agent has seen their request and will contact them soon.
  • Integrating scheduled interactions, such as a video appointment that was booked in advance, into the process.

The Bottom Line

A perfect solution enabling customer service agents' work from home, includes:

  • Communication platforms, such as voice, video and chat.
  • Customer-Centric BPM to connect all the customer journey touch-points and back-office processes together.
  • Effective management tools for maintaining remote agents' performance and level of service.

Q-nomy offers all of the above, deliverable as a secure cloud service. Contact us to learn more.

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