With the global pandemic pushing legacy call centers over an edge, companies using remote phone systems reap high employee productivity.
If you’re reading this now, you probably have seen the light at the end of the tunnel. Remote work/Distributed work/ Telecommuting/ Work from home are some avatars of a subject that is all too familiar with us – Work. But how have these different avatars of work affected employee productivity?
Remote working has gone from the topic that piqued your interest to a pressing priority due to the global pandemic. Don’t let the current situation cloud your judgment though – Remote working was always on the rise!
You don’t have to take my word for it, according to the “State of Telecommuting” report in 2017 between 2005 and 2017 there has been a 159% increase in the number of people telecommuting (aka. Working from home) in the U.S.A. Yes, you read that right a whopping 159% till 2017, these numbers would be going through the roof now!
“Remote work has grown steadily since 2005, as companies of all types—private, public, nonprofit, or startup—continue to recognize the bottom-line benefits of integrating remote work into their business strategies,” said Sara Sutton, founder, and CEO of FlexJobs.
So, why doesn’t every employer give its employees the freedom to choose when and where they work?
The rush to maximize employee productivity
If the culture demands it, and your business needs it? Why wasn’t remote working seeing a widespread adoption? The answer can be summarized in three words – ‘ Measuring Employee Productivity’.
Before the advent of the cloud technology, accessibility to custom reports and real-time dashboards was an asset manager yearned for. Traditional managers felt threatened by the concept of managing a remote team because of their inability to physically monitor and communicate. Thanks to cloud-based technology, that has changed.
Feedback from the market seems to indicate that remote workers are also less likely to take short absences due to illness. It can also have a positive impact on the remuneration system of companies and provide insights into (HR) opportunities
– Eva Verbeemen, EY Belgium Consulting Executive Director & Sébastien Bujwid D’Amico, EY Belgium People Advisory Services Manager
Let’s take the case of Gitlabs, A DevOps platform, the world’s largest all-remote company ( pre-COVID) which has over a thousand employees spread over 65 countries. What was Gitlab’s secret to success? In an interview, Sid Sijbrandij, CEO of Gitlabs, claimed that the benefit of flexible work hours and no commuting time along with other benefits helped them achieve 85% retention, which is double the industry average.
Some key takeaways from the interview on implementation of an all-remote-workforce are:
- Leadership buy-in
- Transparency (over-communicate if-possible)
- Following DRI (directly responsible individual) model
- Value of Iteration
- Using a Handbook
- Choosing the right tools
Gitlabs came up with the concept of using a handbook where they would document the answer to all the potential questions that might arise from employees [ in any department ]. Since GitLabs work across multiple time zones, employees can now address obstacles themselves instead of waiting on a reply from a peer who is halfway around the globe!
Additionally, they also implemented the DRI model, used by Apple, where the employees take the final call on the ‘ how to ‘ part of a task. Employees can take the consensus of his/her peers but the end decision lies with himself/herself.
The sudden change to remote working due to ongoing circumstances
In the last few months, we’ve witnessed a series of events so devastating that it changed the world forever. COVID-19 has had a significant impact on everyone’s life with millions losing their job around their world and those who still had jobs had to get used to working from home.
All the C level executives, irrespective of industry, when interviewed labeled this period as one of the most – if not the most – a challenging period of their careers. Companies had to ( still is addressing) address logistical and tactical challenges. IT teams had to work 24/7 to provide employees laptops and peripherals such as two-factor authentication tokens. Teams also faced issues with data security while using third-party applications.
In a ‘Mad Money’ interview the CEO of Liveperson, Rob Locascio, was quoted saying ‘Coronavirus has ushered in the death of call centers’. With scores of businesses forced to shut down their worksites, businesses that still used legacy call centers were unfortunately placed at the receiving end! Companies that used cloud-based communication tools could shift their operations without hassle as they only require a laptop and a decent internet connection to work!
What we’re witnessing here, ladies and gentlemen is the evolution of the Call Center. Bid goodbye to your on-premise communication tools, the era of the cloud is here and it’s here to stay!
How a remote phone system can help increase employee productivity
Okay, so let’s go back to 2013 where Standford professor Nicholas Bloom and James Liang, CEO of Trip.com Group (formerly called Ctrip) – the largest online travel agency in China conducted an experiment that would improve the confidence of call center managers all over to try their hand at remote working.
In the experiment – Call center employees (with no kids, had a work-room and good internet) who volunteered to WFH were assigned either to work from home (four out of five days) or in the office for nine months. Remote working led to a 13% performance increase, of which 9% was from working more minutes per shift (fewer breaks and sick days) and 4% from more calls per minute (attributed to a quieter and more convenient working environment).
Remote workers also reported improved work satisfaction, and their attrition rate halved. Due to the success of the experiment, Ctrip rolled out the option to WFH to the whole firm and allowed the experimental employees to reselect between the home and office. Interestingly, over half of them switched, which led to the gains from WFH almost doubling to 22%.
Well, if you think about it …. It’s really not that surprising. Considering how much the telephony industry has evolved. All you need right now is a laptop or mobile with a decent internet connection. Additionally, a phone system allows you to incorporate multiple facets of your business under one roof and makes it cheaper than using a real phone at the same time. Some of the benefits of using a remote phone system are
Instant connection – anywhere, any device
Remote phone systems can be set up in a matter of minutes. Admins can add, move, or remove agents from call queues with just a click. Additionally, agents can have calls forwarded to their mobile on the go when they’re not at their workstation (at home)
One phone system, multiple virtual teams
A remote phone system is a solution that encapsulates all the different factions of a business under a single roof. Callers are connected to the right agent irrespective of incoming call volumes with the help of superior call routing engines.
Not only does this help in increasing customer retention, but a superior call routing engine also helps in decreasing agent burnout and attrition, and takes the edge off being a cost center. Read more about call routing here.
Uninterrupted customer service
One of the primary advantages of hiring remote workers from around the globe is the ability to be providing 24/7 uninterrupted customer service across multiple platforms. You can route incoming calls based on business hours and ensure that no call is missed.
Additionally, remote phone systems these days are implementing AI-powered voicebots that allows you to be there for your customers 24×7. With Voicebots, you can deflect FAQs and take the load off your agents.
It’s close to impossible for remote workers ( or even a conventional worker ) to be glued to their laptops. Remote phone systems have mobile apps that allow support agents to make and take calls, play call recordings, type call notes on the go.
Additionally, on days where internet connectivity is poor/slow, they can enable the ‘forward to phone’ along with other fall-back options.
Utilizing a phone conference system allows you to make conference calls to any of your available agents irrespective of location. Conferencing further increases employee performance through contextual collaboration and prevents multiple call transfers (which can be undesirable).
Access to Analytics
Allow me to explain this with an example. Assume Mr. Jon Snow is the customer support manager of a pesticide company in Wall Street. There is an undesirable breed of white bugs that’s been infecting buildings.
Jon, who is using Freshcaller, is able to discreetly listen in to conversations between his agents and customers. He is able to understand the direction a conversation is going and is able to intervene if the situation requires it. He also gets access to a comprehensive dashboard from where he is able to measure take a quick look at call analytics and call center performance.
Jon is now able to do area-wise analysis on the spread of these undesirable white bugs, how fast they spread, how likely they’re to reappear, etc. all from his agent’s call history and agent’s notes. Jon was tired of being kept in the dark but with Freshcaller, even Jon knows something!
Remote phone systems allow your company to tend to your priority customer without putting them on wait queues. Using a remote phone system helps make an agent’s life easier, gives managers much-needed insights, gives your customer the flawless support experience they deserve.
Made keeping conventional teams and virtual teams in mind, Freshcaller is a modern-day reimagining of our everyday virtual phone system for customer support, sales, IT, and Remote Work. With Freshcaller’s cloud-based architecture, it brings together the best of legacy features like IVR and advanced capabilities like Smart Escalations, Call Routing, Custom Call Center Analytics to help you set up a state-of-the-art business call center. Freshcaller offers phone numbers in 90+ countries, requires zero phone hardware, and is extremely easy to use.
If you want to find out more about what we do, check out our website.
Illustrations by Mahalakshmi Anantharaman. Animation by Yuvaraj Linganathan.
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