How to create a virtual contact center in just a few days

Simplify deployment with a cloud-based solution

by Mike Rajich, Director - Contact Center & CX Products, AT&T Business

COVID-19 has taken its toll on customer service, as evidenced by the sharp decline in service levels. Banks, travel agents, airlines, retailers, insurance firms, and almost every other kind of customer-facing business is experiencing a major surge of incoming calls. According to Bloomberg, callers to one bank are waiting 20 minutes to speak to someone, compared to just 41 seconds before the crisis. In some cases, the hold time is up to three hours¹.

Even in these trying times, that’s not the kind of the customer experience anyone wants to deliver. But can companies do better when they’re trying to be responsible and slow down contagion rates by keeping staff at home while addressing massively increased call rates from anxious customers?

Yes, they can, using virtual contact-center technology. The best contact-center-as-a-service (CCaaS) platforms are designed with business continuity in mind.  They’re simple to set-up, easy for agents to use, and highly robust. What’s more, with the right partner, the best CCaaS platforms can be up and running within as little as 48 hours, allowing home-bound agents to get back online and answering calls quickly.

The best systems don’t even require a dedicated handset — the agent uses a softphone over an existing Internet connection.

Features to look out for in a CCaaS platform include:

  • Call routing: each call is routed to the right agent, regardless of geography.
  • Interactive Voice Response: so callers get the help they need, faster.
  • Audio recording: for call-quality monitoring, training, and compliance.
  • Integrated cloud storage: to store call recordings and other data.
  • Actionable metrics: to track individual and team performance.
  • Guaranteed uptime: uptime should be [99%] or higher.

A distributed, work-from-home model is not confined to continuity and resilience. It increases job satisfaction and reduces employee churn. Companies with at-home agents report retention rates of 80% or more, while retention levels for traditional call center agent retention are dramatically lower, less than 25%². Another study found that at-home agents are, on average, 35-40% more productive than staff on premises³. One recent study estimated that — taking into account productivity gains,real estate and facilities savings, and more — a typical employer can save around $11,000 each year for every employee it allows to work from home⁴.

Beyond just coping with the demands of the current emergency — which at-home contact-center platforms are ideal for — shifting to a CCaaS platform gives companies a chance to streamline their operations, increase employee satisfaction and productivity, and reduce costs.

Enabling your contact center agents to work from home using an existing internet connection and a softphone doesn’t need to be a difficult proposition.