How Do You Improve the Remote Agent Work Experience?

Smiling Agent on ComputerIt’s hard to compete with the convenience of home as a workplace. But the pandemic showed us at-home and hybrid models were possible for call center agents. They stuck, too. A whopping 87% of Americans who worked remotely during the pandemic said they would want to continue doing so at least one day a week.

Now, as corporations move to permanent remote and hybrid work models, it may seem difficult to keep your team as connected and productive as they are in person. How do you improve the remote agent work experience? A hybrid call center can be extremely effective for both customers and agents if you’re able to ensure consistent agent experiences, high performance, and a culture of continuous learning and improvement.

The Era of Remote Work
In-person contact center teams have slowly crept back to the office since the pandemic. But they may not look the way they once did. Today, remote work is more common and culturally acceptable than it’s ever been — and contact center leaders anticipate a long-term hybrid work environment from here on out. About 53% of agents work in an office and 47% work remotely.

Yet, while chat tools, conference calls, and shared drives improve productivity, remote agents can still feel disconnected. And when agents feel disconnected, so do customers.

To maximize productivity and performance in a remote call center or hybrid work model:

    • Track meaningful metrics like customer and agent satisfaction.

    • Prioritize consistent, helpful agent experiences.

    • Create a culture of improvement.

Make Your Call Center Metrics Meaningful
Whether your agents work from home or the office, hours logged are not necessarily indicators of productivity or performance. Neither are volume-based goals. Successful call center dashboards blend a mix of numbers related to customer and agent satisfaction.

Prioritize Agent Satisfaction

    • Send anonymous surveys. Gauge agent perspectives on a regular basis with surveys they can take anonymously. A few short questions each month goes a long way, especially if they’re centered around a theme like office conditions, team fit, workload, or wellness. Then, conduct a more comprehensive annual survey once or twice per year.

    • Conduct routine meetings. Lack of team connection is one of the main reasons for agents’ dissatisfaction with remote work. Regular meetings, whether one-on-one, team-wide, digital, or in-person, provide much-needed facetime for teams to connect and level set. Agents can voice concerns and share ideas, while managers can provide coaching tips and feedback.

    • Implement inbound and outbound automation. Stress and overwork can play a major role in agent dissatisfaction — especially when working remotely. AI-powered tools like chatbots, voice bots, or robotic process automation (RBA) reduce the need for agent intervention, freeing them up to tackle more pressing issues. And while concerns about automation eliminating jobs are real, they are far outweighed by the relief of eliminating mundane and repetitive processes.

Monitor Customer Satisfaction
Consistency is key to maintaining customer satisfaction. Continuously track a handful of customer service metrics like average hold time and first call resolution to identify patterns and trouble spots.

Placing a caller on hold isn’t always a bad thing — it’s often necessary. But too much time on hold can lead to a low CSAT. Track individual agent hold times and your team average to understand where there are inefficiencies in your processes and gaps in your agents’ knowledge.

Instead of focusing solely on first contact resolution (which can unfairly penalize your team for multiple customer interactions), use active call resolution, which doesn’t require a customer to call back within a given time frame. This way, it’s easier to assess if customers are dealing with repeat issues or not getting answers.

Monitor Customer Satisfaction
Agents can’t improve if they don’t know the strength of their performance in the first place. Provide real-time visibility into their work — ideally without leaving their queue — including scoring metrics that track individual targets and team goals. When agents know how they measure up, they’re better able to make quick adjustments to meet expectations.

Deliver a Consistent Agent Experience
For remote and hybrid models to work, your contact center software and communications systems need to adapt seamlessly to a wide variety of locations. Agents must have the most helpful, hassle-free tools to work efficiently and provide customers the best possible service.

Keep Data on One Screen
Agents need context to understand the full breadth of a customer’s issue, regardless of where they are or who last touched the case. Instead of forcing them to hop between screens and multiple platforms, make sure they can access it all in one place — reducing hassle, frustration, and wasted time while personalizing customer experiences. Plus, customer satisfaction increases when they don’t have to rehash case details over and over.

Establish Strong Communication Channels
Remote workers report communication and collaboration difficulties as key challenges in a work-from-home environment. They must be able to interact and share information quickly no matter where other team members work from. Whether your call center software comes with native communications capabilities or you choose to integrate your favorite productivity tools, giving teams a way to seamlessly interact is crucial. This may also mean updating and maintaining your internal knowledge base for quick, contactless agent answers.

Build a Culture of Continuous Improvement
Don’t think culture matters in a remote or hybrid work model? Think again. According to the Society for Human Resource Management’s 2021 Workplace Culture Report, 94% of managers say positive workplace cultures create resilient employees. Team culture, whether remote or in-person, sets the tone for your team — and their performance.

Share Feedback in the Moment
Real-time coaching keeps one-time mistakes from turning into bad habits. But catching them can be difficult when supervisors aren’t physically present. Modern call center tech makes it easier to review agent interactions as they happen with call transcriptions right in the queue and features like:

    • Adding manager feedback

    • Sharing and revisiting notes

    • Inviting agent response

Recognize Good Work
Everyone wants to be praised for their work — and 63% of employees don’t feel like they get enough of it. Improve the remote agent experience and team morale by taking time to recognize good work on a regular basis and rewarding it appropriately. A small gesture can go a long way, whether it’s a simple note of thanks or a gift card for a job well done.

Empower Agents to Grow
A key factor in employee dissatisfaction is whether or not they have opportunities for mobility or growth. If agents feel “stuck” where they are, they are less motivated to perform at their best. Use performance metrics to identify agent growth opportunities. Then, combine the data with contextual coaching and training to empower agents to take ownership of their professional development. The prospect of growth positively impacts the employee experience, resulting in reduced turnover, higher morale, and greater productivity for your company.

Build Connected Call Center Teams with SharpenCX
Does remote work mean the end of collaborative, close-knit teams? It doesn’t have to. Simple improvements to your team process and investment in the right contact center tools can make a big difference in making everyone on your team feel connected and empowered to do their best work.

Sharpen is the all-in-one platform for the modern call center team. Let your agents thrive no matter where they work from with a single place to:

    • Access and act on the most accurate customer and call data

    • Share feedback, coaching, and training in the moment

    • Gather performance metrics and track progress

    • Integrate applications that make work and collaboration easy

    • Automate redundant tasks to offload agent to-do lists

Sharpen makes it easy for you to unlock your team’s full potential no matter your work model or agents’ locations.

See SharpenCX in action by scheduling a demo with one of our experts today.