The COVID-19 pandemic has required many business leaders to reconsider how to make a success of remote working. With increased pressure from customers and unpredictable call volumes, managing and motivating key contact centre workers is especially challenging. In this blog, Børge Astrup, CEO of Puzzel, discusses how the acquisition of U-WFM is proving to be particularly helpful.
A confession…until recently, like many other business leaders, I viewed remote or homeworking with some scepticism. A number of unanswered questions bothered me: Would teams underperform? Would management structures struggle to maintain discipline? Will our company culture be adversely impacted?
Thankfully, over the past three weeks, I’ve learned that the answer to all these questions is a resounding ‘No’. In fact, we’ve discovered that when it’s properly implemented, remote-working brings a number of advantages. We certainly don’t know all the answers, but my leadership team and I are rapidly learning how to make the most out of our cloud-based tools and how to use them to motivate, manage and influence behaviour remotely. Here are a few of my observations on this journey, so far…
Maintaining the highest possible level of customer service has never been so important
Easy to say, very difficult to achieve – especially when so many companies are experiencing unpredictably high demands on their contact centres. But now, more than ever, companies have to communicate quickly and effectively with their customers. Remember: When COVID-19 is over, customers will remember the brands that supported them the most.
Operations that rely on legacy, on-premises solutions are perhaps least able to offer a homeworking option to their staff. The situation is, of course, exasperated if they lack true omnichannel communication capabilities as they cannot provide alternative methods for customers to get in touch. I’ve even heard of some companies having to resort to writing to customers asking them only to get in touch in an emergency.
Five steps to make remote-working a success
1. Cloud-based platforms provide agility, simplicity and more efficient employees
The cloud allows people to work from anywhere using a simple internet connection plus a softphone or their own device. In an instant, contact centres can enhance their capacity to cope with increased demand. Puzzel recently launched a suite of fast response call handling; voice routing and webchat solutions that can be up and running within 48 hours to support contact centres migrating to homeworking. In the first 24 hours, one UK organisation that implemented this system, saw 70 agents handle over 2,000 calls.
2. Make the most of easy integration
The most efficient customer service platforms were literally born in the cloud! They enable contact centres to rapidly extend their capabilities through the addition of ticketing, email automation and workforce management solutions. A robust cloud-based platform should be able to integrate with existing customer service technologies, so that with the right solution in place, companies can better forecast, schedule, manage and optimise frontline requirements during demanding periods.
3. Maximise scalability and flexibility
Unexpected events can wreak havoc, even with the best-planned staff schedules. Adding automated workforce management helps companies of all shapes and sizes operate more efficiently during challenging and volatile times.
Modern, cloud-based platforms enable business leaders to remotely monitor, manage and optimise their contact centre operations. An agile approach is essential – properly implemented, there is no reason why individual employees, teams and departments or even entire global operations cannot be managed this way.
4. Nurture future staff loyalty now
Survival might be today’s priority but when normality returns, employees will remember how they were treated during this emergency. Whether they repay you through greater loyalty or by migrating to competitors must be a consideration.
The latest workforce management technology can actively assist forward-looking employers to retain their top contact centre talent. The best technologies enable businesses to finely balance the factors that keep agents busy, engaged and happy. Some progressive companies actively schedule a time for homeworkers to deal with children and manage busy households. Personal development, e-coaching and team-building exercises should all be factored into the mix.
5. Be part of a collaborative eco-system
Our workforces may individually be working in isolation right now, but it is crucial to remember that all our businesses are part of a greater eco-system. Successful contact centre strategies are dependent on a network of partners and vendors.
Choose your partner wisely – you’ll gain the most support, knowledge and experience from those who are most committed to creating an open customer service environment. At Puzzel, we think of this eco-system as a neighbourhood, where we all co-exist and look out for each other’s interests.
Acquisition of U-WFM
During these challenging times, maintaining the highest customer service standards can still be achieved if your solution is built on the right foundation. In my view, this means a robust combination of cloud-based solutions: typically blending a contact centre omnichannel platform with a leading workforce management solution to optimise traffic and resources.
So, with this in mind, I’m delighted to announce that we’ve added a new Workforce Management capability to the Puzzel Customer Service Platform with the acquisition of U-WFM, a leading provider of cloud workforce management and optimisation software.
The U-WFM technology increases the efficiency of omni-channel contact centres and is easy to use and simple to deploy. U-WFM provides accurate forecasting and powerful, optimised, multi-skilled schedules to support contact centres to deliver optimal customer experience while best supporting frontline employees.