One of the questions I get asked is how to build engagement with Work-from-Home agents. Here are three quick tips that can help:
1) Ask your WFH agent how they are doing … and LISTEN for their answer:
Working from home can feel isolating. Agents may feel disconnected from the company. After all, they spend all day talking and writing to people outside the company (I.e., customers.) However, how much time do they spend talking with you, or other members of your management team? When you do talk with your agents, how much of that time is spent on strictly business topics, such as KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), Quality Assurance scores and product knowledge? On the other hand, how much time do you invest in asking your agent how they are doing? Not just a quick, “How’s your day going?” But, asking how they are feeling and if they have any questions about the latest news/trends in the company? Then, listen to their answers. If they are frustrated by a sluggish CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system, emphasize with them. Let them know what is being done to solve that. If they feel isolated and “out of the loop” regarding what is happening at the office, update them on the latest trends. Schedule more virtual team meetings and team building activities. Yes, that may cost money or take time away from calls/chats. But, losing good agents because they feel frustrated and out of touch can cost more than that.
2) Ask how you can support them in working from home more effectively:
When the pandemic began, contact centers rushed to move people to work-from-home. They also tried to just transplant what they were already doing in the office, to a virtual environment. So, coaching, meetings and training went from being face-to-face to being held on Zoom, Teams or Meet. However, virtual coaching, training and meetings require different skills than face-to-face interactions. So, ask you agents how you can support them more effectively with virtual coaching, meetings, and training. Some agents may find one-hour videoconferencing sessions draining, due to the stress of being on camera for that long. So, respond to that by shortening online coaching to only 30 minutes. That can be less fatiguing than staying online for a full hour. It also forces you, as the coach, to fine tune your coaching feedback into using just the high payoff comments. Other agents may ask for a faster turnaround time from you, for answers to a customer question. So, yes, their responses may put more pressure on you to perform. But you need to support them in providing great customer service.
3) Tell them you appreciate them:
One of the biggest drawbacks to working-from-home is missing the informal feedback people used to get at the office. Something as simple as a smile from their Team Leader or Manager, while walking through the office or waiting for the elevator, let the agent know things are OK. Now, that informal interaction is missing for work-from-home agents. So, do not save your positive feedback or appreciation for a monthly coaching session or yearly performance review. If an agent has a great call, let them know it right away. Text them to say, “I just heard your call with Mr. Smith. I liked the way you helped them find the right product.” Or, if the team pitches in to cut down a high Average Speed of Answer on a busy day, let them know you appreciate their efforts. You can also write a quick thank you email, or send a quick group chat, to let them know how well they did.
Asking them how they are doing, asking how you can support them and showing appreciation when they do good work will help build relationships with your Work-from-Home agents.