You can have a successful work-from-home (WFH) model for Customer Support – if it’s executed well. As companies consider moving their teams virtual during (and post) COVID-19, they’re trying to understand the advantages around relocating remotely. There are many benefits as long as your internal team or outsourced partnered is skilled in customer support management.
Below are the five biggest benefits we’ve seen from executing a WFH model successfully. We've also created an infographic to make it convenient to view or share the reasons why work-from-home customer support is a game-changer.
A huge advantage associate with WFH is that it opens up your recruitment opportunities – especially if you’re looking for unique or in-demand talent. Most contact centers are limited to a 30-mile radius when it comes to finding quality agents. Remote staffing allows you to find people from much farther afield. If you need to find reps with multilingual ability, specific technical skills, platform know-how or gaming expertise the potential to land them is much higher with WFH.
WFH employees have a 30-second commute. This alone is extremely attractive to people who live in major metropolitan areas where 90-minute transit nightmares are common. Most people are not willing to endure that on a daily basis. In fact, reduced commute time is a major factor that drives employee retention as it increases work-life-balance and quality time for families.
Some people don’t want to work in a contact center - even if they would make excellent customer care agents. Sitting next to someone else to get their work done isn't enticing for everyone. Some agents don’t thrive in a large office but flourish in an at-home environment.
The biggest fear most organizations have around WFH agents is productivity. There’s a concern that agents will work less without as much oversite. This isn’t accurate for several reasons:
Seasoned support center experts recognize that the way to optimize performance is through tight, consistent, effective management routines. It’s actually the absence of good management routines that lead to underperformance in an WFH agent.
You won’t see issues if you understand how to manage home-based agents vs office-based ones. It’s usually a matter of over-communication – everything needs to be magnified to some point (without micro-managing). And the length of time between noticing a problem and addressing it is shorter with remote agents.
In a traditional call center, supervisors ‘walk-the-floor’ and spot potential issues during their rounds. They can do this with virtual workforces as well. WFH customer support organizations invest heavily in technology to effectively manage their remote teams. They’re able to monitor every second of what an agent is doing and how productive they are in terms of quantity and quality. Every keystroke is measured, and screens are closely monitored. If an agent looks like they are stuck on one tab for a long time (for instance) a supervisor can quickly reach out to find out why and to offer assistance. Higher productivity reduces the number of agents you need and expenses.
Staffing adjustments are simpler with virtual employees. If there’s a sudden spike in demand, it easier for work-from-home agents to pick up extra hours. Onsite employees may have to check on transportation, childcare, and other elements before they can commit to OT. The remote worker can say “yes” a lot faster.
The same is true for holiday scheduling. Most people want the day off and won’t want to commute to the office. However, if an agent doesn’t need to travel it’s not a big burden to pick up a holiday shift.
If a support organization needs to expand headcount for seasonality or other issues like the launch of a new game, securing space in a bricks-and-mortar location is not simple. You can ramp up faster if you don’t need to worry about logistics like where people are going to sit in a physical building. Instead, they’ll be working in their home office. Flexible staffing leads to lower wait times and helps drive satisfaction.
A reputable organization will invest heavily in IT and security. In most cases, there isn’t a difference in the security found in the office and at home. Agents access their systems through VPN and secure web protocols - and their laptops are armed with security suites, anti-virus protection, and other safeguards.
On top of this, most WHF organizations have strict security and compliance policies that are clearly communicated and followed by employees.
When it comes to customer support - downtime is a catastrophe. And in an emergency, having a single location for all your customer service staff can be a liability. All kinds of issues can impact a single call center: power outages, weather, crashing IT, fires, and flooding. If you have 50 agents working from home, you have 50x the redundancy built into the system - and this minimizes 100% downtime.
If something impacts one agent in a particular location – there are 49 other agents who can take over – quickly and seamlessly. You don’t need to worry about opening up an alternate site or backup location for the call center.
In the face of major disasters, WFH systems have lower exposure, especially if staff members are widely distributed. And if there are disruptions associated with health outbreaks that force social distancing – a WFH workforce will not be impacted. Your staff are already at home and ready to support customers. Keep in mind when you deploy a remote workforce – what’s changing is where the work is done, not the quality, productivity, or security. It uses the same playbook to ensure customers are delighted, loyal, and engaged.
Maintain high CSAT and productivity with Goodbay’s Work-From-Home staffing solutions. Our WFH teams allow you to tap into top talent and flexible staffing 24/7/365. They also provide an extra layer of protection when it comes to business disruptions and other unexpected challenges.
Sapan Shahani is the CEO of Goodbay Technologies and is based in Chicago, IL. For close to two decades, he has helped digitally disruptive businesses deliver superior customer care experiences. Sapan was born in Bombay and raised in Hong Kong. He came to the US to study Finance & Entrepreneurship at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. After a successful career in strategy consulting, he left to pursue an idea he discovered in an Economist article that outlined how the world’s best companies were moving their customer support to India.