Many contact centers have shifted to at-home operations with an increasing number studying the option of making the transition permanent. The possible benefits are numerous: initial studies report at-home agents are more productive, a continuation of the COVID-19 emergency, freedom to hire the best employees regardless of physical location, etc. One fact remains, communications technologies and the contact center landscape are changing. Are we ready?
In a recent DVSAnalytics webinar, Danielle Durham, Director of Teleservices at Arizona Federal Credit Union, joined Kathleen Kelly, VP of Sales at DVSAnalytics, to discuss:
- Real-world experiences about transitioning to at-home operations
- Surprises encountered during the move to work from home
- New ways to keep contact center agents engaged
- Technology that enhances training, production, and engagement
Danielle Durham detailed her daily interaction schedule with her at-home agents, and how the move to home offices have impacted teams and management. Kathleen Kelly shared ideas from other DVS customers about how they are helping their home office staff stay productive and engaged.
The Shift to an At-Home Contact Center Workforce
Almost everybody I’ve talked to had no work from home agents prior to the pandemic. The move depended on what technology infrastructure they had in place, typically taking anywhere from three days to three weeks. Considering where folks started from, even three weeks is a pretty short time.
It’s been pretty impressive how quickly our DVS customers were able to move their entire employee base home. We consistently heard feedback that our partners made this move seamless because the technology they had in place was already conducive toward remote, at home, workers.
First and foremost, the move demanded new ways of staying engaged with individuals and their teams. Many DVS customers were used to having spontaneous meetings with one or more of their staff. They’ve found they need to pre-schedule these meetings rather than just spontaneous get-togethers.
Now, they’re frequently checking in, doing games and a few contests while having meetings with both audio and video collaboration to stay engaged. The use of eCoaching and eLearning tools have been much more important than they were before agents moved home. The shift has definitely made life different for individual agents and managers.
Transitioning Arizona Federal Credit Union’s Contact Center
Arizona Federal Credit Union had a very organized, impressive move home. Danielle, tell us how you worked with your managers, and how your managers are working with your teams.
We anticipated we were going to find ourselves in a world where work from home was going to be needed. So, we actually started planning a longer-term deployment to the work from home environment about two to three weeks ahead of time, we thought.
It’s after that plan was set in motion things quickly changed. Our planned timeframe went from three weeks to three days. We were able to get all of our staff, in the matter of about three or four days, to their work from home environments. We were one of the organizations that packed up everything right at their desk.
We wanted to try to minimize the impact as much as possible and replicate the same type of resources our people had in the office. We packed up all of their technology, left as much of it connected and attached as possible, and then provided them with comprehensive step-by-step instructions for how to set up their work-from-home stations.
Their equipment was packed so they just had to carry it inside and connect plugs and sockets for power resources. We worked with our Management Group on what our new reality would look like when it comes to meetings and connecting with our staff. It was important that we did some one-on-one practicing so our managers felt comfortable and could still connect with their team to the same level they had before the move.
Keeping Managers Connected
You’re used to interacting with your managers throughout the day. So, how are you staying engaged with your managers on a daily basis when they’re remote?
For me, the biggest focus with the management group was still being present, even though we weren’t in the office. I wanted to make sure I’m still open for those opportunities to interact. I communicate throughout the day. Just simply asking the question: How is your day going, or how can I be of assistance to you?
I’ve found my manager team very quickly reciprocated that same type of support to myself as well. It’s opened the opportunity for them to talk through anything that they were experiencing, including items that may get forgotten by the time we do our formal check-ins. We also check in by phone every single day.
It’s important for the team to see that connection. When people call our organizational desk line for help, they’re pleasantly surprised to hear their team leader, or myself, on the other end of the phone for that support.
We also have a team meeting every week for about an hour to two hours depending on the number of topics that we need to discuss. As we start to work back into some of our other normal practices that were put on pause, those conversations are a little bit longer. I try not to go into survival mode when it’s not absolutely necessary, avoiding making decisions very quickly without talking with my group. I try to avoid that as much as humanly possible, even if it’s just a conversation asking for opinions to help make the best choice.
View the Webinar
The conversation continues on the webinar, including discussions on:
- Training, eCoaching and eLearning
- Forecasting, scheduling & real-time adherence
- Transitioning to work from home: on-premise or cloud
This on-demand webinar explores the real-world experiences of Arizona Federal Credit Union’s contact center quickly transitioning to work from home operations, including some of the surprises they encountered in the process, and the solutions they’re using to keep their agents trained, engaged, and productive.
View the webinar for the complete story.