The coronavirus may have triggered the world’s largest work-from-home experiment. A few days back, the NTT urged 200,000 employees to work from home as virus spreads in Japan. For leaders in Macau, Hong Kong, and Singapore, working from home is the only option to stave off a fiscal crisis while keeping employees safe. Of course, not all jobs are conducive to work-from-home. Reports show that jobs within shipping, factories, and education are struggling to adapt. However, call centers, especially those run on cloud telephony solutions will not have a problem. Can I temporarily switch my call center to a work-from-home model? Yes. Switching your cloud telephony solution to a work-from-home model on a temporary basis is easy. It’s something a team lead can organize while sitting at his/her own house. Instead of the calls landing in the PRI or the office, the call gets rerouted to the agent’s desktop or mobile. As far as the customer is concerned, he or she will not even know that the agent is working from home or office. (Note: in case you have a legacy call center, please read my colleague's article on how a legacy call center can switch to work-from-home mode) Online versus Offline Mode. In fact, since you can log in to your cloud call center account from anywhere, agents can simply log in to their system to get back to making and receiving calls as usual. But some call center managers, even senior ones, are not aware that agents can function in what is known as an offline mode. What is an Offline Mode? Offline mode means that you can route calls to agents’ mobile phones or even landlines, instead of them taking calls via desktop. This is important when your agents may not have access to good headsets or speakers at their residence. How does the team lead reroute calls? The team lead needs to go to the reporting portal and change the logic as to where the call will land. Agents can take calls on their mobile phones, landlines or of course their desktops. Security & Privacy Issues Some businesses do not want the agent to be able to access customer details from their home because of data privacy issues. This means agents may not have access to their CRM data while logging into the call center. But within this limited functionality, the call center can function beautifully from home. A 100% call center unless the company security policies allow the agent to replicate his office environment at home cannot be done. However, this partial capacity is definitely preferable to the call center being down and no agent is available. And when customers are aware that there is a problem, they definitely appreciate this partial service to a complete outage. Conclusion The Coronavirus is not the first emergency situation when call centers have needed to switch to a work-from-home model. We have faced multiple situations like this. For instance, when there was a bandh in Mumbai all our [...]
About Rajiv BharathanRajiv Bharathan is the Senior Vice President, Sales at Ozonetel. He has been on the frontlines of change in IT, cloud telephony and telecom for nearly four decades. He is well-known for his high commitment levels and is passionate about being in the thick of the action from landing new accounts to helping existing customers get more out of our platform.
As we market our voice bot and successfully implement increasingly complicated use cases, a big question I hear within the call center industry is “ What will the role of humans be in the call center now? Will bots completely replace people?” The short answer is “no”. The long answer is slightly more nuanced. Read on.. All of us are experiencing bots in some form or another. Chatbots are both expected and accepted now on most websites. Last year we introduced Voice bots too with a bang. We see accuracy levels improving almost daily. We can soon expect this technology to be stable and predictable, especially in English, Hindi (India) and other vernacular languages. When will bots take over? Possibly never. One question which a lot of our customers ask is when will voice bots replace agents? My view is that it may never happen in toto. Yes, very basic and mundane query-based processes (like shipment/delivery status of an order) will definitely move to bots. Surveys, basic level KYC processes will also move to bots. These are easy to implement and will not require any human intervention. (Although currently human backup is recommended..read more). Compassion is still a human-only skill Let us consider processes that deal with nephrology patients who are undergoing dialysis: these CANNOT move to a bot. Currently, agents deal with these patients by speaking with them in a language that they understand. They have to be compassionate. Similarly, an HIV helpline cannot be a bot. The afflicted person needs human contact. So what’s my final take? A fine balance will emerge as bots mature. The ratio of calls being handled by bots and humans will depend on the industry and processes. There is no formula that fits all.