It’s a bright Monday morning, and four teammates are planning to meet at 10:00 AM GMT to brainstorm a couple of business development ideas. But, Jake is getting ready for a hike, Amy is stuck at the doctor’s clinic, Terry is at the airport to board his flight back home, and Gina is busy working on her presentation that’s due right after this meeting.
But, precisely at 10:00 AM GMT, all of them huddle for a virtual meeting without any delay. Even though the team members weren’t in the same location or time zone, they could log-in and get down to business swiftly.
Does this scenario sound familiar to you? With the shift in working practices, managers will witness virtual collaboration outweigh face-to-face catch-ups. A Gartner survey of organization leaders noticed that 80% plan to permit employees to work remotely post the pandemic.
What is Virtual Collaboration?
Virtual collaboration is the act of people working together online to ideate, review, or execute a project, despite working in different locations and times. If you’re managing a contact center business or heading a support team, digital collaboration tools will enable your agents to work and communicate seamlessly within the team and across the entire company. In a nutshell, virtual collaboration empowers you to improve productivity.
Why is virtual collaboration important?
The upward trend of work-from-home flexibility in today’s climate comes with many benefits, such as:
- Increased productivity
- Financial savings
- Higher retention rates
- Global Hiring
1. Increased productivity
It’s also no myth that business hours improve with more flexibility. Many people have found that without common workplace distractions such as extended coffee breaks, unnecessary meetings, fewer people walking over to your desk to ask for a quick favor or ask a quick question, they were getting a lot more done, in less time. When it came to collaboration as well, finding the right people required, explaining what needed to be done, following up with them, and making sure the job is done, was infinitely easier online.
Virtual collaboration tools allow remote agents to collaborate seamlessly as if they’re in the same room. They can use virtual communication channels, such as email, video conferencing, instant messages, and mobile phones to communicate efficiently, brainstorm or solve problems together.
2. Financial savings
According to a Stanford study, companies can save around $2,000 per year per employee who works from home. These cost savings are bolstered by operational efficiencies, such as lower occupancy fees, utilities, office supplies, and redirecting the spending to other areas.
3. Higher retention rates
Remote work boosts happiness and productivity, which results in higher engagement and higher employee retention rates. In fact, a survey by SHRM workplace found that 80% of employees would be more loyal if their company approved flexible work options. Acknowledging that attrition could cost businesses 50% of an employee’s annual salary in hiring and training, retaining employees is a financially wise choice.
4. Global Hiring
Virtual collaboration is an excellent catalyst for attracting top talent. Since your business will not be confined to your local pool of potential applicants, you can seize the opportunity to cast a wider net and fill roles with ideal candidates, rather than settling for those in close proximity.
Who needs virtual collaboration?
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, preparing for virtual collaboration was a choice for most businesses. A necessity only for businesses that already had remote teams, or teams split across multiple locations. However, since the shift to a remote workforce became a mandate, every team and every company needs to have a virtual collaboration strategy.
Research has found that American Express employees who worked from home were 43% more productive, while JD Edwards teleworkers were up to 25% more productive than their in-office colleagues.
In a virtual collaboration arrangement, managers can reap the benefits of cost and time savings, while enjoying the enhanced productivity of remote workers.
Yet another benefit of virtual collaboration is that it’s an excellent catalyst for attracting top talent. Since your business will not be confined to your local pool of potential applicants, you can seize the opportunity to cast a wider net and fill roles with ideal candidates, rather than settling for those in close proximity.
Tools required for virtual collaboration in a call center
Operating a remote workforce of call center agents starts with equipping them with the right tools. Some of the “must-have” technology, equipment, and software to maintain a dispersed yet effective workforce are mentioned below.
The basics: computer, headset and internet connection
Working remotely relies heavily on your agent’s internet connection and speed. When you’re helping your agents set up their workspace at home, test their network’s performance and speed. Also, your at-home agents will need a computer and headset that meet your basic system requirements to make and receive calls.
Browser-based call center software
Any call center business that promotes virtual collaboration should use browser-based call center software. With this software, the setup is simple: No hardware or software to install, no hassles with telecom providers, and no plugins to renew. The browser-based call center software will also make the lives of call center agents a lot easier by:
a)Presenting the complete history of a customer by integrating CRM
b)Linking the helpdesk system linked to the social media channels
c)Summarizing the entire call notes of each caller
Customer relationship management (CRM) software
No marketing tool is more essential for a call center than your customer relationship management (CRM) system. This integration collects customer data with every interaction, creating a comprehensive history that your agents can use to personalize their customer service.
For example, when a customer connects with your call center, your CRM displays their data, related social media information, and details about previous interactions with your agents. This instant information will equip your agent to instantly resolve the customer’s issue without re-asking questions about their account.
Call recording software
Agents have a lot to handle. Not only will they have to resolve customer queries with a short TAT, but they’ll also have to take call notes diligently and update their CRM with relevant information. However, due to the demands of their job, they might forget to write down the necessary information or update their notes with incorrect data. By using call recording software, customer conversations can be directly captured and automatically updated into your company’s systems.
Additionally, call recording is also crucial for quality assurance and is essential when managing a remote workforce.
Call monitoring software
Whether your team only makes outbound sales calls or handles inbound requests, your call center is a significant contact point between the business and the customers. Call monitoring provides managers and team leads with dashboards, calls, and alerts and tracks speech and language patterns for profane language, compliance violations, escalation trials, and customer sentiment. The standardized call monitoring practices will help call centers, thus enabling the business to grow. With call monitoring, everyone wins.
In our digital world, data analysis is mandatory for customer success and support. The ideal call center dashboard should offer access to in-depth metrics that you can use to measure and improve your customer service. Look for a platform that will let you keep a close eye on performance metrics such as:
a)Real-time and historical data on calls
c)Average call length
d)Average number of transfers
e)Average hold time
Analytics can gauge the performance of agents and operations as a whole, to identify areas that need improvement more quickly.
Cloud telephony for virtual collaboration
Many industries embrace cloud telephony, and what is common between them is the flexibility and cost savings they are enjoying from moving to hosted infrastructure.
Sales and Business Call Administration
Landlines are not portable, and if you have a team that heavily relies on phone support and business calls, you will be in a fix. To ensure your team operates efficiently, your business should embrace cloud telephony. By doing so, agents can connect with customers and resolve their queries, regardless of their location. A virtual call center can use call routing to effortlessly transfer your business calls to the agent’s mobile numbers within seconds.
Another advantage of adopting a cloud call center solution for virtual collaboration is that managers and team leads get access to a live dashboard to monitor their team’s performance. These dashboards present real-time data such as the call time, the number of calls received, and missed calls. Further, they can also use the call recording feature to go back and review the agent’s performance and provide the necessary feedback.
2. Delivering mobility and flexibility
Cloud telephony breaks down blocks by moving the on-premise PBX phone system out of the building and into the cloud. Agents will have the liberty to use any device: desk phone, smartphone, or tablet, to attend customer calls while they’re connected to the company’s phone system. This level of flexibility will be a great asset to distributed enterprises.
3. Establishing connectivity and collaboration
The cloud telephony system can be used for setting up web meetings and audio conferences. Managers can easily collaborate with their teammates, enabling them to make decisions quickly, despite working from different locations. Another advantage of a cloud telephony system is that agents will never again have to call customers using their personal numbers—even when calling from their mobile or home lines—ensuring complete privacy.
4. Providing security control and viability
Security is a massive concern within telecommunications businesses. A cloud-based solution gives the IT department more significant command over security by auditing compliance necessities such as mandatory call-logging. Additionally, the extensive feature set rendered by a cloud phone system empowers managers to observe agent productivity and evaluate the effectiveness of remote workers, sales representatives, and other critical phone-based personnel.
5. Enabling cost and time savings
A cloud phone system reduces charges for long-distance calls and eliminates separate landlines. Moreover, it can be deployed within minutes as the traditional phone systems can be moved quickly to cloud-based technology.
Also, many cloud telephony systems offer a simplified billing process that provides a monthly invoice covering all lines for your entire remote workforce. This frees agents from spending time preparing expense reports and eliminates the need for managers and corporate accounting to approve numerous phone bills.
Mastering virtual collaboration comes down to developing a stellar team and equipping them with effective processes and the best tools. The face-to-face office environment isn’t as typical as it once was, with remote working becoming the new normal. But as clear as that equation sounds, it’s not an overnight process. However, with the right provider to execute your strategy and streamline the operations, you can improve your company’s agility efficiently.
Freshcaller is a modern-day reimagining of our everyday phone system for customer support, sales, IT, and HR teams. 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 www.freshcaller.com.
Illustrations by Mahalakshmi Anantharaman
Animation by Vinoth Krishnan
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