One of the benefits, and there are many, to operating a virtual call center is minimizing the need for inclement weather policies. Virtual AtHome™ Agents are unencumbered by commutes regardless of the weather. However, for the bricks and mortar facility, this is the time of year to review your inclement weather policy and ensure that it is communicated effectively to all agents, management and customers.
When devising a good inclement weather policy, it is important to consider several factors, including:
- Workplace safety – involving facilities in the inclement weather policy is a good idea, particularly since walkways will need to be cleared and heat available for agents who can make it to work. Parking lots should be navigable and doors easy to enter and exit. This may call for altering the entry point agents use to accommodate heavy winds.
- Establish a hotline – whether it’s a text, email or phone call, establishing a method to keep employees updated is critical. Consider adding local closures, delays and even road conditions to help keep them informed.
- Distribute key information – ensure that all departments have information to contact key personnel, including managers, directors, lead supervisors, facilities contacts and any other decision-maker. Each person listed should have a minimum of two means of contact listed in priority.
- Assign inclement weather notifications – so there are no mistakes in communication, assign a team to provide the inclement weather updates and notifications. Updating websites, voice recordings and notifying key personnel will be part of this team’s responsibilities. Provide information and flow-charts outlining how inclement weather decisions are made so the team can perform their responsibilities quickly and efficiently.
- Cover any personnel issues – determining pay, leave and time-off policies in advance are an important aspect of a well-written policy. Agents will need to know what is expected, particularly since call centers cannot typically close. What approvals are required if an agent wants to use paid time off? Who is on the mandatory response team?
- Consider IT issues – call centers must have technology to function, so ensure that your IT team is on board with your policy and can respond to any issues that may arise.
Distribute the policy in advance and thoroughly review it in team meetings so that all agents, supervisors, managers and supporting departments are clear on what is expected. If possible, consider providing an option for agents to work remotely during bad weather. Doing so will ensure better customer service, higher transaction resolution and keeps the agents safe.