Engaging with Customers and Tending to the Chickens
The COVID pandemic has shifted the mindset of consumers when interacting with businesses. It has also played a role1 in the mass exodus of employees from populous cities into suburban and rural areas. People were reevaluating where they live and work as the transition to working from home became a reality. Life did not stop, however, as the entire world came to grips with an outbreak. There were bills to pay, a renewed interest in home improvement, and vacation plans to cancel. But there were no customer service desks to walk up to or office visits to sit down with a travel agent.
Businesses needed to quickly grasp these challenges and adapt to an entirely remote workforce. Almost overnight, offices and on-site contact centers became ghost towns. Even if the business were large enough to have an IT department, they were overwhelmed with providing access to employees to continue doing their jobs. And if employees happened to reside in rural areas, the options were even more limited.
The Challenge of a Completely Remote Office
As employees began working from home or leaving big cities temporarily and renting places to live outside of town, their connectivity needs drastically changed. A fast quality internet connection was no longer a luxury. Many suburban areas and predominantly rural areas suffer from poor quality broadband access. Employees in this situation struggled to provide a good customer engagement experience because sharing limited bandwidth for voice and data was not optimal.
IT departments providing voice services with a PBX and productivity tools from on-site servers faced a difficult road ahead. Setting up proper security protocols and procedures, providing virtual private network (VPN) devices and access, and beefing up connectivity speeds became top priorities. Business continuity plans were not designed for 100% remote use, and employees needed more options for accessing company resources.
Providing Cloud-Enabled Offline Access
Organizations have quickly recognized the advantages of cloud-enabled technology. Cloud technology, including modern contact centers hosted from multi-tenant environments, provides many options for customer representatives to access resources and engage with customers.
One advantageous method is offline mode. When a business continuity plan includes the contact center, providing administrators with the almost instant capability to re-route all calls to external numbers proves invaluable. Once configured, PSTN or even mobile numbers connect all calls without the need for on-site company resources.
Another option could be the desk-less login. Customer representatives fielding calls that require no data entry do not even need an internet connection. The representative could call a unique number that logs them into the contact center. They can answer calls from their home phone or mobile device, and the business retains all call logs and recordings.
Lastly, if the representative has limited bandwidth and still needs to access and update customer information, they could log in with their PSTN or mobile number. Voice interactions are then routed over traditional telecommunications infrastructure while reserving internet bandwidth for data entry.
While the idea of operating a contact center with staff who work from home in the suburbs or even rural neighborhoods was foreign and unheard of just a little more than a year ago, it is today’s reality, and businesses must adapt with flexible disruptive technology. Enabling agents to interact with customers via multiple unconventional methods from anywhere ensures an uninterrupted customer engagement experience- even while tending to the chickens.
Businesses may be missing cost-saving opportunities by not considering how contact center flexible connectivity options blend well with the new hybrid work environment.