Business Disruption: Tools That Help To Manage Remote Workers

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According to U.S Census data1 from 2017, just 5.2% of workers in the US regularly work from home. This is around 8 million people, which is a relatively small number. However, this data is a couple of years out-of-date now and it’s fair to assume this number is on the rise. It is also worth noting that there are many types of work that cannot be done remotely including many medical professions, service work and retail work.

Unforeseen circumstances can make the number of people needing to work remotely rapidly increase, and with such a small number of workers set up to work remotely can cause big problems for companies, their employees and customers.

The recent outbreak of COVID - 192 has meant huge numbers of employees being recommended to stay at home. Chevron sent home 300 employees3 from one of its London offices when an employee returned from Italy with flu-like symptoms. Media group OMG also reportedly sent home 1,000 employees. This outbreak has even caused the Dow Jones4 to suffer its biggest-ever single-day drop.

Disruption also comes in other forms. Many organizations suffer because of a natural disaster, such as flooding or a hurricane. One of our customers, Live Oak Bank5, is a real example of this. In 2018 Hurricane Florence caused all of Live Oak Bank employees to be dispersed across neighboring states in order to continue their operation.

Events like this can have a meaningful negative impact on business unless managed properly. A major concern for managers is how to ensure their teams continue to operate effectively. Managing a team that sits in the same office as you has its difficulties, and for people who haven’t previously managed the team remotely, it can seem like a daunting task. How can I answer my team’s questions? Do I know whether or not everyone is available to take customer calls? Are our sales targets still going to be met?

It is entirely possible to not only be resilient and continue working through these times of disruption but to thrive. Being ready for disruption is key to being able to guide your organization through it without affecting the day-to-day operations or revenue.

Tracking key sales metrics

Communication is crucial to all sales organizations. Connecting with our prospects and customers, but also other members of the team or company who provide value in the sales cycle.

In an office environment, it’s easy to walk over to your colleague’s desk, see if they are on the phone or out to lunch and take action accordingly. This approach is much more difficult when everyone is remote.

8x8 Analytics for Virtual Office provides an easy to read, real-time dashboard displaying users current status. The dashboard will show you who is available, on a call, busy, away or offline. It is simple to customize using filters to make sure the people you care about most are always displayed.

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Wallboard displaying all users current status

Another major concern for sales leaders when employees are remote is being able to track key sales indicators and ensure targets are being met. For many outbound sales teams, one of these key metrics is the number of phone calls, and the length of time salespeople are talking to prospects.

Being unable to hear the buzz of your salespeople on the phone can be unnerving, especially for those who are used to managing day-to-day activities from an office. The sales floor noise may be comforting for many leaders, but having accurate data on calls and talk time is really valuable whether you and the team are in the office or remote.

Extension Summary makes it easy to understand if your key call targets are being met. It is easy to filter by team, or keyword and sort metrics into the order most appropriate for your team, including the number of outbound calls, average talk time and many more. You can click on any user and get a detailed report for that person's calls.

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Extension summary report

Utilizing reports will enable you to manage based on data, not just office activity. Getting comfortable using the tools and having a few reports pre-built will prepare you to continue to manage the team when disruption hits.

8x8 Analytics for Virtual Office is a web-based application. Meaning your configured view, access and, data is the same wherever you choose or need to access it.

Delivering Exceptional Customer Experience

Customer service executives and managers spend vast amounts of time, money and effort making sure every element of the contact center is optimized, and have for a long time understood the impact customer experience has on the business.

According to the American Express Customer Service Barometer6 - 33% of Americans will consider switching companies after just one bad experience and 66% are willing to spend more money with a company that delivers great customer experience.

This highlights the importance of ensuring the day-to-day operation of the contact center is managed without change during any type of disruption.

Managing a contact center requires clear visibility into every part of the customer's journey, whether a customer calls, chats, emails or uses social channels to communicate with you. It is important that the data is presented in a way that is easy to interpret and is accurate, enabling decisions to be made quickly to meet SLA’s. Once a decision is made it also needs to be simple to implement these changes and maintain high levels of customer experience.

Visibility into the Contact Center

Key metrics in a contact center include average hold time, abandon rates and agent availability. These metrics directly affect how long a customer will have to wait to speak with a representative and impact on the customer’s overall experience.

As a manager, it is important to be able to see these key metrics in real-time. When in the office it is common practice to have large screens hanging in the office to display a call stats wallboard, which updates in real-time and notifies everyone in the contact center if any of these key metrics fall outside of the service level.

8x8 Analytics for Contact Center provides a unique URL for each of these wallboards. This means that if you or the whole team cannot work from the office it is possible to access the same wallboard from your laptop or home computer.

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Real-time Contact Center wallboard

The web interface makes it easy to react to this data, by adjusting which agents are available to take transactions from queues in one click, or even adding or changing overflow routing to better manage abandon rates.

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Enable agents by queue with one click

Another key behavior that supervisors manage on a daily basis is who terminates calls. Best practices indicate that the customer should terminate a call to allow every opportunity to get the help they require from the agent. Calls that are not terminated by the customer often need to be investigated. These calls usually indicate that either a technology problem exists, or agents are terminating calls.

It is easy to report on all calls for a given time period within Customer Experience analytics. Once the required calls are selected, filters make it easy to find any calls that were hung up by the agent.

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If more information is needed about a specific call, double-clicking will generate the customer journey flow diagram. With information on each stage of the customer’s journey through the contact center, including number selections in the IVR, how long they were on hold for and who terminated the call.

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Customer Journey flow diagram - Agent terminated call

Maintaining high-levels of quality

Along with being able to manage the day-to-day transaction volume in the contact center. When team members are working away from the office it is critical to make sure that customers do not get a different level of service. In an ideal scenario, customers should not be aware that you are operating remotely.

To combat this 8x8 make it easy to monitor agents in real-time and where needed provide feedback and coaching, from any web interface regardless of where managers, customers or agents are located.


Managing in progress calls

From time to time agents require assistance when dealing with more complex customer calls. Contact center agents are often required to use multiple applications in order to solve problems.

Agents typically reach out for help from supervisors via ‘chat’ while on a phone call. However, it is hard to explain what is happening on the call, which application the agent is using, and keep the customer engaged. This makes it very difficult for supervisors to be able to help.

Live Monitoring allows supervisors to join an agent’s call silently, and listen to both legs of the conversation, supervisors can also access a live view of the agents desktop. Being able to see the agents screen and hear the full conversation makes it much easier to advise agents on how to proceed with the call. Providing accurate real-time feedback speeds up resolution time, and coaches the agent in a live environment helping future calls.

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Live monitoring agent’s desktop while on a call with a customer

Evaluating customer experience, post-call

After a transaction is complete, calls are automatically transcribed within the Quality Management application. Being able to read and listen to a conversation can greatly improve the understanding of the transaction on the first time of listening. 

When evaluating a call, supervisors can highlight text, or mark sections of the call which can then be annotated and sent via email or within the application to the agent for feedback. 

With the addition sentiment analysis is automatically applied across every transcribed call making it easy to navigate directly to areas of a call where the customer is particularly happy or unhappy.

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Transcription and sentiment analysis on every call

Using post-call evaluation forms in your contact center helps to ensure a consistent level of service across all agents. When using 8x8 Quality Management evaluation forms, feedback can be populated while viewing the transcribed call and video of the agent’s screen. Having the call, video, and form on a single-window makes providing feedback much more accurate and efficient.

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Quality Management evaluation form

Having access to a comprehensive set of tools to manage the contact center is critical to success. Setting up and using reports, evaluation forms and monitoring tools in the day to day running of the contact center will help improve the overall customer experience and efficiency of both supervisors and agents.

Using these tools will also mean transitioning to a remote working model either long term or during a distribution will reduce the impact on the contact center.

Administering systems during disruption

Every employee in the organization having to work from home at short notice is many IT managers' worst nightmare.

  • Will employees be able to access all the systems they need?
  • How reliable are user’s home networks?
  • Are applications secure?

And many more unanswered questions.

Making sure that customers still get a positive experience when talking on the phone to employees, whether it be support or sales is often towards the top of that list.

Everyone knows how frustrating it is when a phone call isn’t clear. A poor internet connection can make calls very difficult to understand and portrays a negative view of the business to customers.

As an administrator, being able to see which users are experiencing problems with their call quality before customers complain allows an action to be taken to improve future calls.

8x8 Call Quality report shows calls from all users regardless of location, device or network type. Filtering these calls by ‘poor’ then allows IT managers to see which users may need their settings changing to improve call quality.

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Call quality detail report

One example of how to improve call quality is to adjust the codec setting. With 8x8 a user's settings can be configured individually. Therefore, having identified a user who is having poor call quality, the codec can simply be changed with the configuration manager web portal. Reducing the impact calls are having on the home network.

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Manage user settings in 8x8 Configuration Manager

Web-based configuration tools mean making system changes while working remotely are as simple as when you're in the office.

Planning for Success

Managing a team through disruption is achievable while minimizing the impact on day-to-day activities or customer experience. Following these tips is a great place to start.

Be Ready:

  • Become experts in the web-based applications you and your team are using.
  • Build reports and use them in the day to day running of your business.
  • Build a disaster plan which includes all users working remotely if required.

Respond quickly:

  • Respond quickly to minimize disruption.
  • Implement your disaster plan.
  • Over-communicate. Especially important for managers and supervisors to provide regular communication cadence to staff and outline how staff members can get help when needed.

Stay Resilient:

  • Adapt quickly to the changing circumstances.
  • Keep up to date with the progress of a resolution to the disruption.
  • Continue to work through disruption.

Ready to get started? 8x8 is here to help. Contact us today to learn more.

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 1 https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs/news/data-releases/2017/release.html

2  https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus

3 https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/26/business/coronavirus-businesses.html

4 https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2020/02/27/dow-markets-plunge-correction-coronavirus/4889977002/

5 https://www.8x8.com/resources/customers/liveoakbank

6 https://about.americanexpress.com/press-release/wellactually-americans-say-customer-service-better-ever

David Chase

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David started his career in UC and Contact centre back in 2012 and hasn't deferred since, having joined 8x8 through acquisition. David started off in sales and became the go to sales engineer for everything Contact Centre, going back to his first love of marketing - David is now 8x8's Solutions Marketing Manager and continues sharing his knowledge of 8x8 across the sectors. [...] Read More >

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