For small and medium sized enterprises, having a team of agents working off-site has plenty to recommend it.
Was your business one of the thousands that sent its employees home to work during the COVID lockdowns of 2020?
That unplanned experiment demonstrated the possibilities and benefits of having employees toiling off site, en masse – just under a third of Australian workers were doing so during April and May 2020, according to Roy Morgan research – and prompted many businesses to consider maintaining the practice even as commercial life crawls back toward normality.
With appropriate systems and processes in place, the contact centre is a prime candidate for ‘off-siting’. For small and medium businesses that adopt the model, the benefits can be considerable.
Chief among them is the opportunity to reduce the organisation’s real estate footprint. As anyone who’s run a bricks and mortar business can attest, office space is expensive to buy or lease and costly to run, even if it’s not in a blue chip location. Plus, if you’re hoping to expand your operations in the short or medium term, you may find yourself paying for space you don’t need immediately, in order to avoid having to undertake an expensive and disruptive move when your headcount increases.
You can run a red pen through this fixed cost by spending a couple of thousand dollars a year per head to provide a team of work-from-home agents with the ICT infrastructure and support – think laptops, headsets and fast internet connections – they need to do the job from home. Scaling up doesn’t mean searching for new premises or squeezing one more desk into your existing space; instead, it’s as easy as kitting out another agent and welcoming them aboard.
Broadening the talent pool
Finding those new team members – agents who are reliable, motivated and customer-focused – can be an easier proposition if your contact centre operates remotely. No longer are you forced to confine your search to candidates who live within reasonable commuting distance of the office; in competition with every other local business doing the same. Instead, your new hires can feasibly live anywhere in Australia that has a reasonable internet connection. That means it’s possible to focus your recruitment efforts on cities and regions where unemployment is high and individuals are likely to value steady, reasonably paid work.
Allowing people to work from home also opens up opportunities for individuals who may have the attributes you’re seeking but who, for a variety of reasons, cannot commit to doing nine to five in an office environment. Give them a chance and they’re likely to stick around for the long haul. It’s good news for your business if they do. Lower staff turnover equals less spending on recruitment, training and onboarding new hires, and a contact centre staffed by experienced agents who know your company, products and services inside out.
Repurposing the savings
Cutting costs without sacrificing service quality is always a plus but if your business is in expansion mode, there’s an added benefit. The funds you save by running your contact centre remotely can be invested in initiatives and activities, such as marketing and business development, that contribute to growth and profitability.
A strong technology backbone
A remote contact centre is only possible if you have infrastructure in place to support the model. For some businesses, that may necessitate replacing legacy on-premises contact centre software with a cloud based platform that allows agents to log on from anywhere. Select a solution that is hosted locally, supported well, has sound failover provisions and can scale up with ease, if your workforce expands, and your team of far flung agents will be well placed to provide a superlative service to your customers.
Prospering through change
In post-pandemic Australia, many of the country’s largest enterprises are implementing remote contact centres but the savings need not be confined to the big end of town. Small and medium enterprises which take a strategic approach are equally well placed to capitalise on the benefits the model has to offer.