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Are Call Center Employees Returning to the Office Despite COVID-19?

Are Call Center Employees Returning to the Office Despite COVID-19?

When speaking with a contact center agent that is in the sales hospitality industry to learn about how call center work from home has been, they expressed two things.  First, their appreciation for their continued employment.  Then, a growing concern about going back to the office.

  • Would it be required?
  • When?
  • What will be the criteria?
  • Would they be safe?

At the same time, the businesses we’ve interviewed are struggling to address similar questions. The anxiety of uncertainty exists at every level inside the company and in the broad global consumer population.

We haven’t yet solved the specifics on how, when and if your employees should return, and recognize there’s no one-size-fits all solution. In fact, we also must recognize that this pandemic isn’t over, in some areas its worse than ever!  From Israel to Florida and California, we aren’t out of the woods yet. In speaking with many businesses, we have seen a theme across those that successfully planned for uncertainty. Businesses that prioritized their call center agents, other employees, and customers first, then addressed any operational obstacles that came as a result were the most successful.

In developing your own plan, continue to prioritize your agents (and all your employees) and customers. Communicate with your teams and customers to learn what’s best and get a pulse on how they’re feeling. Once you can determine what the outcome should be, you can prioritize the operational obstacles.

To help navigate, here’s some common obstacles businesses will address when prioritizing people first:

Employees experiencing heightened stress and lack of engagement

When first going remote, 211 LA County and Expivia navigated employee stress using existing technology.

Take Away: Communicate even more than you think you need to.

Business needs to transform, but time for implementation isn’t ideal and negative impact isn’t an option.

Hear from Jay Baucom, Sr VP of Global Operations and CIO of Alphanumeric as he shares his story and insights of how Alphanumeric transformed in three days.

Take Away: Focus on customer excellence and employee experience.

Your industry historically thrives on its brick and mortar and face-to-face business.

Learn how Coast Capital Savings dealt with challenges of digitizing physical branches and learn how they’re planning for what’s next.

Take Away: Yesterday’s rules don’t apply. Your employees and customers have new needs and preferences that should be prioritized, and they might change. Stay on top of their shifting needs.

Existing technology doesn’t cover long-term needs.

ESCI, a student loan servicer and credit card payment processer, was forced to focus on getting technology in place for digital communication and transactions while their bottom line was already taking hits. See how they navigated.

Take Away: Protecting your bottom line means getting dependable technology in place that covers all channels of communication.

If your contact center is feeling the impact of legacy-based, on-premise systems.

United Way of Connecticut had legacy solutions and getting call center agents home meant transitioning to the cloud. See how they transitioned across all of their departments in a matter of days.

Take Away: Plan. Makes sure your plan covers all areas and aspects of your business and practice execution of your plan to ensure all the pieces are in place.

If one or more employees is at risk

A NICE inContact employee’s daughter has battled cancer throughout the past year, including multiple rounds of treatment that suppressed her immune system and resulted in a period of unemployment. Finding new work was difficult, but late last fall, she landed a call center job. Things were looking up until COVID-19 shifted her outlook. To her, the options seemed bleak: risk unemployment by calling in sick too much? Or go to work immuno-compromised and risk her life?

Fortunately, her employer presented a better option. The company, a CXone customer, purchased 1,000 Chrome Books and sent employees home. Within 48-hours she was logged in from home in front of her MAX agent receiving call center calls from her cell phone.

Take Away: With many companies reporting employees who were impacted or vulnerable, we can never be too careful.

Anxiety around uncertainty at all levels isn’t a new story; fortunately, neither is businesses managing it successfully. When solving what’s right for your business, it’s important to be mindful that there is no benefit that outweighs the cost of not prioritizing your people.

What these customers do to ensure their businesses are up and running, their employees are safe, and they are available to their customers is nothing short of herculean effort, even though they make it sound “easy”.  This effort has also proven a couple of things.

  1. The cloud done right can make business continuity and disaster response effortless when it comes to contact center applications.
  2. Digital is now more important than ever.
To hear a perspective on both, take a listen to our recent webinar on Delivering Digital Service, or just dive right in for your move to the cloud starting with our handy checklist for choosing the right cloud contact center.