Even though staff are measured in every dimension like no other department within an organisation, and proof is readily available of good performance, trust is unfortunately not an inherent part of the culture in contact centres.
At the core of this issue is the way that many organisations approach contact centres, and customer service in general – they treat it as a cost to be borne rather than a differentiator. This leads to an approach of hiring staff as cheaply as possible, and tying them down in work that is highly repetitive and process driven. Supervisors and managers are hired with the same approach, so management is driven by presence – seeing people in their seat to ensure they are following the processes.
However, with contact centre staff moving from managing routines to managing exceptions (and self-service efficiently delivering the routine interactions), we need to start employing people with a different skill-set – that of problem solving rather than procedure following. These people are generally higher educated, have increased life experience and are better at resolving complex customer issues. Organisations are increasingly finding that this profile fits that of a home worker – someone returning to the workforce, or choosing home working as a work/life balance choice.
Home working for contact centres has many proven benefits; however it does require upgraded management capabilities before being embarked on. The biggest mind-set change needed is that you get the best performance from people by not constantly monitoring them for their presence. Set your KPIs to take into account their skillsets of problem solving (so don’t use AHT – use FCR for example) and link these KPIs up to organisational goals. This openness shows you are trusting them rather than monitoring them. A next stage is to give them as much control as possible over scheduling time available for phone work. This is both trusting and empowering for the employee and helps you to continue to build the trust bond between you.
From companies who have implemented home working, the reported incidence of fraud in home workers is the same or lower than in building based CCs. When given this level of trust, people respond by being trustable.