Corona-crisis opens gates to customer service from home

The current Corona-crisis shows that many traditional contact centers are currently unable or only partially able to fulfill their mission: Employees are sick or required to stay at home by government order. Home office and communication and collaboration solutions like Microsoft Teams are experiencing a strong upswing. Now it’s time to implement new approaches and working methods in customer service.

Ensuring contact center operation

The image of a contact center has become engrained over the years: Employees sit at one or more locations and handle customer enquiries. With the spread of the Coronavirus, the ‘work-at-home contact center’ has taken on a new meaning. This form of set up can uphold the operation of customer service while at the same time increases flexibility regarding employees’ workplace.

Unified Communication as the foundation for home office

The technical prerequisites for effective communication and collaboration in a decentralized organization are available today thanks to Unified Communications & Collaboration (UCC) platforms. Microsoft and other tech giants offer cloud services, such as Microsoft Teams, which enable location-independent working. For internal collaboration and communication, these services have become established in most departments. The contact center and helpdesk, on the other hand, mostly still use traditional, location-based applications.

Customer service from the home office

What aspects make a UCC platform successful for a work-at-home contact center?
From the company’s point of view, this is what it takes:

  • Well-organized personnel management
  • A technical working environment for the employee that can only be used for work-related tasks
  • Security and compliance controls

From the employees’ point of view, the following aspects must be fulfilled:

  • Functions optimized for customer service
  • Simple user interface
  • Access to all relevant information systems, e.g. CRM and ERP applications
  • Good introduction and training

Opportunity for paradigm shift in customer service

The example of Swisscom, a leading Swiss telco enterprise, shows how flexible customer service can be (watch news video in German). Swisscom’s contact center is now empty – practically all employees are currently working from their home offices.
The current crisis can be turned into an opportunity and help home-office-based customer service to a breakthrough in the long run, increasing customer and employee satisfaction while reducing the cost of customer interactions.

Customer service from the home office can increasing customer and employee satisfaction while reducing the cost of customer interactions.

Win-win situation for employers and employees

Everyone involved can benefit from the ‘Work-at-Home Contact Center’. If necessary, employees can take over customer service tasks from any location, thus helping to maintain operations even in exceptional situations. In addition, the employer increases its flexibility when recruiting new employees in terms of employee profile and geographic location. If employees’ wishes with regard to location and working hours can be taken into account to a greater extent, the attractiveness as an employer and the motivation of the employees will increase.

Rapidly setting up a decentralized Contact Center with Microsoft Teams

Building a work-at-home customer service is easy and fast. First, a UCC platform must be established, for example Microsoft Teams. Microsoft supports companies in the current situation and offers Microsoft Teams for free for six months. This is a good opportunity to test the possibilities and advantages of the UCC platform in your own company. Microsoft partners such as Luware deliver add-ons with contact center functionality so that Teams can also be used successfully in customer service. This enables agents and employees to serve customers from any location.