Metrics are good. They give a snapshot of the state of a contact center. Whether its hold times, average handle time, or first call resolutions, having your finger on the pulse of the contact center is important. With all the reports and technology available, it’s easy to forget that the pulse is really the agents, especially if they are virtual agents.
Obviously tracking and reporting is a key component to knowing what is happening with your virtual agent team. You cannot just step outside your office to take a look (and honestly doing that does not really give you a true picture). Still it is critical to communicate regularly with agents to give you a true feel for what is really happening. If the only time you communicate with agents is to provide formal feedback or training, then you miss out on opportunities. Spending time getting to know your agents provides insights you will want to utilize later. For example, if you don’t know that Bob is not only really great at outgoing sales, but also has a real passion for travel, you may miss out on better serving a new customer. You may also miss out on providing a great opportunity for Bob to shine.
Keeping in touch with virtual agents need not be a daunting task. Simply implementing any of the following tips will keep the communication open:
- Change the Agenda of Regular Team Meetings – these do not always need to be about metrics and customer complaints. Save time for agents to get to know each other and the management team. Use ice breakers to keep conversations rolling, or even have a contest. For example, have each team member submit a write-up based on what they think an agent looks like based on his or her voice. Awards for contests can simply be bragging rights, but keeping levity in the team meetings is priceless.
- Provide an Online Portal for “Chit-Chat” – this is not really a place for office gossip, but giving the team a way to interact regularly, ask questions about a project or even something going on in the news, will go a long way to developing a stronger team. Just like in an office, a virtual team needs a way to hang out, even if it is online.
- Hold Online Team Events – when it’s time to celebrate successes, make sure you are doing so. A virtual event is easy to host and gives the team an opportunity to hang out and celebrate all the good things they have done for the customer. The technology to support virtual events is abundant. Depending upon the type of event, you can host webinars, conference calls, or even video chat so that everyone can put a face with a name! These options are affordable and easy to implement, so you can have your first virtual event up and running quickly.
- Try Peer-to-Peer Mentoring – another great way to give virtual agents an opportunity to know one another while improving customer service is peer mentoring. Agents can apply to mentor or be mentored based on subject matter expertise. This type of one-to-one interaction can strengthen virtual agents’ knowledge while providing an opportunity to get to know others outside their actual contract.
When it comes down to it, people are the pulse of the contact center. The more these successful virtual agents can interact, the stronger the team and the better the customer service. Technology is readily available to support these interactions, and taking advantage of them will yield great benefits.