Why do companies choose a work-at-home contact center model? Flexibility is key.
Compare: traditional contact centers vs. an on-demand virtual model
Every customer service executive is looking for business agility, flexibility and cost-effective solutions. But to achieve all of this, quality is often sacrificed. However, a contact center solution doesn’t have to be an either-or proposition when leveraging an on-demand, virtual workforce.
Today, more than 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies are using or planning to use home-based agents. These companies are reluctant to depend fully on the expensive, less flexible, traditional brick-and-mortar model. Why is this so?
First of all, it’s impossible to predict the exact level of activity you’ll experience in your contact center. Very few businesses have a consistent flow of customer service demand. Across a variety of industries, all businesses experience spikes in activity, whether they are seasonal or event-based.
The retail industry is a great example: seasonal spikes in customer demand, unexpected service needs, or a wildly successful product launch all put additional pressure on organizations to respond rapidly. Similarly, the insurance industry experiences spikes following a major storm.
Sometimes these spikes are understood—even anticipated. But in many cases, these peak periods overburden contact center resources and ultimately diminish the customer experience by forcing customers to cope with long wait times or lesser-trained emergency staffing.
Many companies realize that when they solely rely on the traditional brick-and-mortar model, flexibility and quality can suffer. Even a model with agents working from home on fixed hours creates the same quality and scalability challenges found in the traditional brick-and-mortar model. That’s why a flexible workforce is more desirable.
To help, we’ve summarized three strategies modern contact centers use to handle spikes. You can explore this in more detail by downloading our latest white paper 3 Strategies to improve customer service flexibility.
1. Identify bursting trends.
Plan as much as you can by leveraging data from past demand peaks. If it’s happened before, it’s likely happened again.
How do you put that data into action?
- Use predictive analytics
- Review past performance
- Research historical trends and demand forecast
2. Plan for the worst and be ready to flex.
After you get the lay of the land during known busy periods, start identifying ways to handle the anticipated demand spikes and prepare a contingency plan for the spikes that happen without warning.
What should you consider?
- Understand what resources are available internally.
- Review all of the channels available to help customers reach you during spikes.
3. Evaluate outsourcing partners.
Before you engage a customer service solution, be it a traditional brick-and-mortar contact center, work-at-home employee base, or a flexible workforce delivery model, you must understand the lifecycle of this partnership.
The surprising solution is more nuanced and agile than just adding staff during peak periods. It’s leveraging the gig economy; i.e. a contingent, on-demand, distributed workforce.
For example, at Liveops we might open a schedule for 500 agents to schedule themselves for one half-hour, 2,000 the next half-hour, then scale back down to 500 in subsequent time periods. This flexibility is provided based on our client’s needs and call volume.
Forward-thinking business leaders are using “flex” workers as part of their contact center strategy to be more nimble, reduce costs, and quickly respond to wild swings in customer demand. Flex workers perform critical business functions such as customer service, sales, tech support and more. Dig deeper into the differences between traditional contact center employees and virtual flex agents in our white paper comparing agent quality.
Optimizing your contact center approach for better flexibility ensures you’ll be prepared for unpredictable fluctuations so that they won’t be such a shock to the system. Learn how you can get started with a flexible approach today by downloading our white paper, 3 Strategies to improve customer service flexibility.