Training and Managing Remote Agents During COVID-19

Training and Managing Remote Agents During COVID-19

The current situation with COVID-19 has certainly put a spotlight on the fact that call centers and answering services are an essential business — but as we know, our industry always has been essential. To quickly respond to the health and safety of others without compromising service delivery, many of our members have redirected their call agents to at-home remote status.

According to a new report by Buffer, around 98% of employees who work remotely want to continue to do so — at least part-time anyway. But one of the biggest challenges is how can operations managers and supervisors effectively manage and motivate a remote staff?

The Challenges with Remote Agents 
We all know there are many benefits to having remote capabilities for call agents. Many ATSI members say that the current situation is not only more convenient but more productive. Many members have always had a remote staffing model and have gone on to create an above-average employee retention rate while delivering healthy profit margins.

However, the challenge is the ability to be efficient and productive. This is a big concern for managers and supervisors who are now relegated to virtually monitoring their remote agents. Also, without the appropriate policies and procedures in place, remote agents can feel disconnected from their team.

How to Effectively Manage Remote Agents
The concept of managing a remote agent staff may seem a bit challenging. Below is a list of several tactics that could be applied to ensure agents are productive, engaged, and excited about working outside of the call center facility itself.

  1. Making Work Fun — Gamification is one of the best ways to motivate a remote call center staff to do their best while at home. By using rules and regulations that have point scoring attached, competitions and challenges can easily be shaped into a fun experience.
  2. Check-ins, Call Logs, and Daily Reports — Managing remote agents requires a system for operations and internal communication. Performance-oriented tools like Slack, Trello, and Asana can assist managers with gaining additional insight and obtaining valuable information about the work their teams are doing.
  3. Quality Assurance Tools — The power of cloud-based contact center software can help managers securely track call quality and activities. Additionally, there are many solutions that trainers and supervisors can use to actively manage call quality based on specific KPIs (Key Performance Indicators).
  4. Offering Rewards and Incentives — Recognizing employees for everyday tasks, like showing up for their shift on time, is always a good thing. Catch them doing something right so that behavior is re-enforced and duplicatable. However, the real benefit comes when you offer rewards such as gift cards, gadgets, paid time off, dinner vouchers, and similar things to motivate your remote staff and give them a reason to continue to show their best work while ensuring an exceptional caller experience during every call. Be sure to check with your accountant as to which rewards are subject to tax in your state.
  5. Fostering Collaboration — Last but not least is the idea of fostering a community within your remote staff. This is a tactic that directly impacts the challenge of being unmotivated or unproductive. If your call center uses a tool like Slack, you can provide a good method of communication between your co-workers (such as general chat rooms) as well as additional chats for managers.

How Are You Motivating Your Remote Agents?
In the face of recent events, many ATSI members are having to quickly shift to stay-at-home orders. Transitioning to a remote-friendly work model should be part of your business continuity plan. With a reliable system in place and actionable steps to track your team’s performance, you can position your call center on the path to success and be able to scale your operations — exactly when your clients need you the most.

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