In an exasperated tone, a VP said to me “How hard can this be?” We were talking about the front line Team Leader team of her contact center organization. I responded into the phone: “It’s Virtual.”
As companies try to tap into larger labor pools and cut costs, and try to offer a more competitive work environment with incremental benefits, many are considering launching a Virtual/At Home Contact Center. Some organizations have launched their new programs and found challenges they had not even considered.
3 Major Misconceptions about Working from Home:
- People work the same no matter where they sit. Nothing could be farther from the truth. We are taking a “people person” and putting them on an island. There is no one to talk to between calls and no one to connect with. In a brick and mortar contact center there is a closeness that some people refer to as family. Now they sit, isolated, at home. An employee that once loved their job doesn’t want to work; It just feels different. Absenteeism and attrition can go up and some centers may find KPIs are negatively affected as a result. Leaders will turn to recruiters frustrated and inform them that they are hiring the wrong people.
- Managing the day to day operations can be done the same. Some companies aren’t preparing their leadership for how to do their daily job duties in a work at home environment. Everything feels different to both the advisor and leadership. Some leaders feel their coaching is “not sticking” like it did when they worked in a brick and mortar center. Advisors can feel empty and not cared for about, like something is “missing.” This can have a negative impact on over all employee satisfaction and the customer focused KPIs that drive the bottom line.
- The communication strategy can be the same. No one is on the same page. You talked with them on the phone and sent out an email – twice! Information is not resonating like it once did. Advisors feel like they are being left out of the loop and leadership feels like no one is listening.
Virtual/Work at Home environments have wonderful benefits to employees and the company, and to clients and customers as well. When executives understand the real time frustrations of their contact center leadership and advisors, it can be the first step towards everyone coming together to change the way the contact center runs. Without understanding these differences, and having a new strategy to address them, contact center can trend toward higher attrition and absenteeism, lower sales conversion and customer service satisfaction scores, which leaves everyone feeling alone and frustrated.