Six ways to build a positive culture for your remote contact center

How do you work together when you’re not in an office, surrounded by your coworkers? More to the point, how do managers ensure their employees are engaged and have high morale when they can’t see them in person? These questions are especially pressing for contact center supervisors and their agents as they work remotely.

Consider six ways to build a positive culture for your remote contact center team, so your agents are motivated, happy, and productive.

What is a positive culture?

positive contact center culture has a number of characteristics:

  • Agents have high morale and are enthusiastic about being at work.
  • Team members collaborate effectively, both with one another and with managers.
  • There’s frequent, appropriate, and trustworthy communication from management and HR.
  • Agents are given the tools and knowledge they need to succeed.
  • Managers can be flexible under changing circumstances.

Is a positive work culture possible with remote work?

When you think about building a positive work culture for your team, it may be difficult to imagine you can do that with remote workers. Yet, research shows it’s possible:

  • May 2020 Gallup poll points to remote workers being more engaged than their peers who work in an office – 32% vs. 28%.
  • Remote workers have higher job retention rates; a 2019 study reported that remote workers are 13% more likely to stay in their jobs for the next five years than onsite employees.
  • 2012 study from Stanford researchers revealed that transitioning to remote work boosts performance by 13%.

6 ways to build a positive work culture for a remote contact center

How do these principles and statistics apply to contact centers, especially to ones in which agents and managers are working remotely? It’s still possible for agents to work remotely and feel that they’re part of a vibrant, positive culture.

Here are six ways to create a positive work culture for contact center agents working remotely:

  1. Choose the right tools.
  2. Empower agents to find the answers themselves.
  3. Offer timely, relevant feedback to agents.
  4. Intelligently route contacts to the right agent.
  5. Customize workflows.
  6. Optimize schedules.

Choose the right tools

What do the right tools look like in a contact center environment? The right tools enable agents to connect to customers through the channel of their choice, on-site or remotely, while also giving managers real-time reports, agent monitoring capabilities, and in-depth customer surveys. Moreover, the right tools integrate with CRMs, so that agents can deliver personalized service to every customer.

It’s frustrating when the technology that’s supposed to enable agent jobs actually make them harder – 10% of workers have actually left a job because they were dissatisfied with the software and hardware they used. Cloud contact center technology allows agents to work remotely while maintaining high levels of performance and productivity.

Empower agents to find answers themselves

Two heads are better than one. There are times when your agents won’t know the answer and will need access to internal resources to answer a question. Market-leading cloud contact center solutions provide a shared directory with presence indication, so agents can reach out to company experts to solve issues.

When agents can collaborate effectively with other teams, you can see a productivity boost of 20 to 30%, according to McKinsey. Productive workers are less frustrated and more engaged, which leads to a more positive work environment for all (even for remote work). – Read more

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What it really takes for employees to succeed at remote work

What a difference a year makes. Back in 2019, remote work was seen as highly desirable by many workers, but businesses were still reluctant to offer that kind of flexibility. In fact, just 3.4% of employees were working remotely full-time.

Then COVID-19 hit, and overnight, remote work went from an outlying trend to the reality for a significant number of businesses. And it looks like it’s here to stay. Many companies plan to adopt more permanent remote positions, while others have already announced that employees will be allowed to work from home permanently

A roundtable discussion with SINC

We’ve learned a lot in 2020 about taking remote work from theory to practice and about what employees really need to succeed when working from home. To discover more about how IT leaders are enabling success within their organizations amid this new normal, RingCentral partnered with SINC to discuss the new requirements for a distributed workforce.

“[The pandemic] was a wake-up call for many businesses,” said Ken Zeng, RingCentral’s VP of Product Marketing. “A lot of folks were dabbling (with work-from-home arrangements), and this really forced the issue.” Even for businesses that already had WFH plans in place, the realities of remote work meant refining tools and strategies—and exploring their results reveals an improved roadmap for remote work 2.0.Setting Up Remote Workers for SuccessSee how leaders are tackling tomorrow’s challenges of remote workWatch Webinar

The #1 imperative for better remote workplaces

While the pandemic proved that it’s possible for employees to get their work done remotely, the next challenge for businesses is optimizing tools and workflows to make the results of working from home even better. 

“That’s really where I think the opportunity right now is, to actually take it from a responsive, reactive type of thing [to being] proactive. How can we build a better experience with our customers? How can we deliver service better? How can it be more enriching? How can we get you that information faster?” 

Overwhelmingly, the consensus was that communication makes this happen.

Lorenzo Hines, Global Senior VP of IT at Citi, said remote productivity took off when employees began widely using tools such as internal instant messaging, team intranets, and phone calls to stay in constant contact. He’s also shifted the frequency of meetings to create more opportunities for virtual face time. 

“I have required daily meetings with all of my individual teams,” Hines said. “We do that every day. That way… everybody gets the same information. [Before], I would have a weekly one-on-one and a weekly team meeting. Now that’s daily.” – Read more

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In a work-from-home world, service level agreements for cloud communications take center stage

“Network error: There’s a problem connecting to the application.” 

Other than the dreaded “blue screen of death,” a network error warning is quite possibly a hard-working employee’s most aggravating computer message—especially because it always seems to happen at the absolute worst moment, like some kind of cruel joke. Maybe it’s also because in our fast-paced, always-available world, every moment feels urgent. And if we’re going to make ourselves available at all times, we expect no less from our apps—whether for business or leisure. 

For cloud-based business communications and collaboration solutions, the importance of continuous availability only increases. Because communication is at the heart of any successful organization, communications solutions need to withstand a multitude of obstacles. These include natural disasters, seasonal surges (such as the first day of school or holiday buying), unexpected surges (such as what we’ve experienced with COVID-19), or company-specific issues (such as hosting a large all-hands session online). In addition to these variables, Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) and Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) providers also need to remain available across many different devices (laptop, mobile, or tablet) and connectivity options (WiFi, 3G/4G/5G, or a switch from one to the other) that customers might use to connect.

What does “Five 9s” mean (also known as “Five Nines”)?

The availability of a cloud solution is usually expressed as a percentage of the amount of time that solution is up and running (known as uptime) in a given year. Most enterprise communications solution providers offer Service Level Agreements (SLAs) that commit to a certain minimum percentage of uptime in a given period (or conversely maximum downtime). 

In the figure below, you can see how availability percentages equate to downtime over the course of days, weeks, months, and years. In a perfect world, a cloud solution would be available 100% of the time. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world, but the good news is that when it comes to uptime, we’re not far off. For example, some companies offer 99.999% availability (also known as “Five 9s”), which translates to 5.26 minutes of downtime for that app per year. Of course, not every company can guarantee that level of uptime, and lower guarantees can translate to possibly significant downtime. For example, 95% availability—which sounds like a high number—actually equates to up to 18 days of downtime annually.

Service Level Agreements guarantee the availability of cloud applications. Lower guarantees can lead to more downtime.

Increased downtime for cloud communications apps can actually have potentially devastating consequences, particularly in certain industries. For example:

  • Healthcare: Patients can’t reach doctors for critical information
  • Education: Teachers can’t teach remotely
  • Public sector: Citizens can’t reach critical government services
  • Sales: Sales teams don’t have access to the tools to close deals
  • Support: Customer requests go unanswered and customer satisfaction suffers

How cloud providers ensure high availability

There are some critical elements that all highly available Software as a Service (SaaS) companies need to get right, starting with building a scalable, redundant, and secure infrastructure. Here are a few of the hallmarks of highly available solutions: – Read more

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