9 August 2020

Call Center Wallboards for Home Agents

By: Geomant

Still being stuck in the middle of this all-encompassing pandemic, one of the few things we can say for certain is that our working practices will never quite be the same again, even when COVID-19 is behind us.

Lockdown has taught us that working from home is a viable option for many businesses and offers attractive benefits for employers and employees alike.

Of course, some job roles are less flexible than others and you might think that call centers would be a prime example of an enterprise that’s less suited to having team members working from home. Particularly as, in certain sectors, these hubs of activity are now busier than they’ve ever been.

Adapting to lockdown lifestyle

But, with a bit of flexibility from everyone involved, many call centers have adapted surprisingly well to the lockdown lifestyle.

Some of the charming ‘on hold’ messages big organizations have been using have revealed a new, refreshing vulnerability and human side to their corporate personas. One bank, for example, appealed for customers to show patience with their over-stretched agents and apologized, in advance, for any barking dogs that might be heard in the background while their call center staff are working from home.

As well as personal challenges that call center staff have been facing, like finding a quiet space to do business, there are obvious technical challenges that need to be addressed with remote working. After all, the customer experience still needs to feel seamless, and this is easier said than done with call center staff dotted all over the country.

Products like home-agent wallboards are certainly helping call center teams deliver an efficient service while working remotely.

What call center wallboards offer

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Before we look at the functionality of home-agent wallboards, it’s worth taking a quick look at the job that the all-singing, all-dancing wallboards within call centers have been doing before lockdown made them temporarily redundant.

Usually the focal point of the call center, wallboards take information from different data sources, aggregate it, consolidate it and display it on a user-friendly large screen. They take the huge amount of data generated by your contact center and convert it into information that is focused, relevant and actionable.

Call center wallboards are used for everything from receiving critical performance data in real-time to lessening the time agents and managers have to spend hunting around for key information. They also issue alerts and messages when the department is in danger of failing to reach targets and they’re equipped to manage information from additional new channels such as email, instant messaging and live chat.

Having joint goals helps support agents working in what can be a very stressful environment when things aren’t going according to plan. Sharing targets and progress means that agents who work hard will be recognized and agents who underperform will be encouraged to do better.

Wallboards are often designed so their information is presented with gamification features, motivating agents and encouraging them to beat their previous “high scores” in a way that’s fun and engaging. Gamification generates a culture of friendly competition with agents, which can help raise the overall standard of work within the contact center.

No compromise with home-agent wallboard functionality

So, what functionality does a desktop wallboard for remote workers have, in comparison with the big wallboard in the call center? Well, for a start, it supports the display of KPIs, messages, alerts and multimedia functionality. The information that appears on the screen of the agent working away from the center can be exactly the same as what they would see on-premises, but the at-home wallboards are browser-based which explains how they can be accessed remotely.

A new report, for example, could be downloaded by the agent, in their spare bedroom or from the breakfast table, with just one click.

Better still, the design interface is highly contemporary and can be easily tailored for each individual company.

Benefits for the manager

Call center managers can feel disconnected from their agents when they’re unable to keep an eye on them and quickly get their attention. This lack of physical proximity can make it harder for them to manage and motivate their team. Home-agent wallboards give managers a tool they can use to communicate critical information to agents in real time.

Another key benefit is automated alerting at specified instances. So, for example, the agents might receive an ‘all hands on deck’ message whenever call volumes reach a certain level. Or a ‘big high five’ as soon as team or individual goals are met. These alerts are sent without the manager having to lift a finger, which means the manager can focus their attention on other matters while still appearing to be providing ongoing motivation that is likely to be greatly appreciated by the agents.

Benefits for the agent

The pressures of lockdown and social isolation have had a demoralizing effect on workers in many sectors, and call center agents are no exception.

It’s important for them to have that same sense of being part of a team that agents working within call centers enjoy. The home-agent wallboard lets them know the scale of task for the day, what’s going on in real-time and enables them to keep up to speed with KPIs and call center performance.

The board can also be personalized with rich messaging that adds an extra layer of engagement: things like happy birthday messaging, gamification and PowerPoints to help raise motivation levels and share new service strategies.

Benefits for the customer

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As the best-selling business author, Bernard Marr, explains: “There is a strong link between happy employees and happy customers, and another one between happy customers and profit.”

Home-agent wallboards offer visibility into transfer queues and this gives team members the opportunity to save customers from the frustration they feel when transferred to a never-ending queue. This visibility allows the agent to alert the customer to the expected wait time before they are transferred and allows the customer to make an informed decision as to whether they’re better off calling back later.

Most at-home agents are likely to have just the one monitor, which puts the screen real estate at a premium. Obligingly, at-home agent wallboards can have a small footprint on the desktop. This can be adjusted to suit the individual user, but it never needs to distract from other work tasks.

Important considerations for call center managers

However good the technology might be, managing call center agents based at home presents a new set of issues and these need to be carefully considered.

You might well, for example, need to change the KPIs that your agents are working towards. With your team working away from the office, there’s a good chance your team will have moved from voice to chat. If so, you might want to establish a new set of KPIs that reflect this, and any other, operational changes.

You will also need to choose whether your home-agent wallboards are deployed via the cloud or an on-premises solution using a gateway or vpn. The main difference here is that the cloud can be subscription-based while an on-premises solution will require you to make some up front software and hardware investment. This extra cost is not something that deters some customers who still prefer to go for the latter option.

How easy are remote-agent wallboards to set up?

It would be hard to specify an exact set-up time, as each situation is unique, but we can give you a reasonable estimate. Let’s just say you’re unlikely to find the set-up times prohibitive and most at-home wallboards are usually up and running with 2-3 days with very little expert support.

Predicting the future

It’s not easy to make decisions in the current climate, as you try to assess how wide the gap will eventually become between the new normal and the old normal in terms of working practices. Unfortunately, your customers will not be waiting for a clearer picture to emerge and you need to offer them the best possible service you can right now.

Home-agent wallboards are a short-term investment that can deliver long-term benefits. They have the capability to grow with your company and are equipped to embrace changes like the introduction of new digital channels into the call center mix, such as chat, instant messaging and WhatsApp.

Above all, they will enable you to deliver high levels of service whatever the future holds in terms of remote working. That’s great news for you, your agents and, of course, your customers.

To find out more about wallboards, why not download our eBook.

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