Los Angeles, CA, USA, April, 2020 -- Convoso, a web-based contact center software provider, is reporting a surge in call centers requesting support to change from in-office to remote operations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Stakes are high for an industry employing 3.3 million call center workers, as many U.S. contact centers turn to browser-based dialer technology in a scramble to maintain business continuity and avoid layoffs. According to Site Selection Group,* in 2018 over 7400 U.S. call centers employed 50 or more workers, making up 2.3 million of the 3.3 million call center workers.
"I’ve been speaking with many of our customers," said Nima Hakimi, CEO and CoFounder of Convoso, "and, there’s definitely a lot of uncertainty at this time, which is scary for many people. Our customer success managers are urgently working with businesses struggling to make the change to virtual call center operations with agents at home. We’re giving them tools and sharing best practices on how to lead, manage, and hold agents who work from home accountable."
Adapting To Virtual Call Center Operations Means Survival
Many call centers serve industries better positioned to withstand the sudden economic downturn resulting from Covid-19 restrictions. In this case, survival for the call center is a matter of shifting perspectives on how they run their business: transitioning from a more uniform, controlled office environment of agents, desks, chairs, computer screens, and headsets, to embracing a different model with agents, admins, and managers working from home. Even if they may eventually revert back.
NextGen Leads, a customer acquisition platform for Auto Insurance, Health Insurance, and Medicare professionals, recently converted 80 agents to work from home with Convoso’s cloud-based software. Melvin Merritt, Call Center Director at NextGen, remarked that the company found the move to virtual operations to be a smooth transition, with a strong volume of calls, and improved results.
"Call centers easily convert to remote operations with our software because it’s completely browser-based, and comes loaded with robust tools for effectively managing at-home agents," said Bobby Hakimi, Convoso Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer. "We have a flexible, advanced technology that accommodates both office and virtual operations. In reality, most agents could be ready to work at home tomorrow with as little as a Chromebook, a headset, and a stable internet connection. There’s no software to download and install."
Call centers able to minimize business disruptions by making the transition to work from home agents are most likely to endure the economic hardships of the novel coronavirus [COVID-19] pandemic. Adapting quickly to maintain business continuity gives contact centers a critical advantage in a competitive marketplace.
George Mueller, VP Sales & Operations at NextGen, noted that, "We’ve even seen an increase in our productivity since transitioning to remote agents," after changing to work from home operations in response to the pandemic two weeks ago.
Call Centers Need Tools And Support To Successfully Transition
In addition to dialing technology, there are essential tools that support management of remotely operated contact centers, including agent monitoring, agent logs and status, real time productivity reports, integrated chats, whisper features, customizable dashboards, lead status, and more.
"Fortunately, we’re in a strong position to help call center-driven businesses adapt and survive the current crisis," said Meg Mananian, Head of Operations at Convoso. "As a customer-centric company, our whole team is committed to helping our existing and new customers stay productive. Every department is working diligently to assist moving call centers to remote operations. We’ve been proactive in developing new tools for more efficient work-from-home management, and providing information and support for contact center owners."
Broader Impact Of Call Center Disruption
On the other hand, some Convoso customers report notable challenges for the industries their call centers serve as a result of market uncertainty, supply chain disruptions, mandatory closures, and a workforce put on inactive status. For example, those contact centers selling vacation travel opportunities.
"There’s a ripple effect," said Lisa Leight, Convoso VP of Marketing. "The reality is that call centers are an important modern source of new business for many companies, and play a part in a healthy economy. So, it’s not just the call center that’s affected when nobody can show up for work, it’s all the businesses they serve, and all the associated lost revenue, and the loss of income for the many people touched by that dive in revenue."
Learning From Experienced Remote Call Center Operations
Prior to the widespread mandate to stay home and the temporary closing of many businesses, 50% of Convoso’s call center customers operated with at-home agents. They draw from a larger pool of talent, with few geographic restrictions. The company has developed tools and features over the years to meet the needs of these virtual call center customers.
Contact centers considering a change can learn from professionals already experienced operating remotely. Digital Market Media is one example of a successful existing remote-based call center. Owner Tom Carolan and author of the book, "Have Them at Hello: How the Best Call Centers Crush Sales Projections," reported that since switching to Convoso in January of this year, they’ve utilized previously unavailable tools to more effectively manage their agents, saving time and money and doubling the size of the team. He said, "Convoso’s intelligent reporting features allow me to efficiently manage our at-home agents and have been critical to increasing agent productivity."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
Convoso’s cloud contact center platform is designed to improve customer interactions and experiences at every stage of your business operations. From designing to executing campaigns and customer service strategies, our platform ensures the user experience and interactions are productive and enjoyable for both your customers and employees alike.
Published: Tuesday, April 7, 2020
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