Teleworking and customer service: are your solutions cost-effective and secure?

Facts

  • 80%of Canadian workers want to continue working from home most of the time.1
  • 71%of companies noticed an increase in calls to customer service since the start of the pandemic2
  • 83%of customers expected to be able to reach someone right away3

1 Statistics Canada 2 et 3 Salesforce

This article is part of the How to Get Ahead series, an initiative from the team at Videotron Business to help companies improve their performance given recent needs for rapid transformations that require effective, flexible, and profitable solutions. Here we present a few ideas that are both realistic and relevant!

Customer service centres, call centres, and offices have undergone major transformations as a result of the pandemic. Seemingly overnight, working from home has become the new norm, even pushing some companies to fully adopt the teleworking model, while other companies have chosen to adopt a hybrid approach. How to overcome the challenges that come with these transformations, including quality of service and security, and the vulnerability of businesses?

The numbers don’t lie

The first takeaway: Avoiding reality is the best way to find yourself hitting a wall, especially in a context of low worker retention and the labour shortage. On this subject, it would be wise to consider this data published in April of 2021 by Statistics Canada: After the pandemic, over 80% of Canadian workers want to continue working from home most of the time. Another powerful stat: In June, 32% of Quebecers said they would look for another job if they were required to go back to the office five days a week (Source: IWG, Angus Reid, June 2021).

Call centres: More pressure on customer service

  • Technology is identified as companies’ most major point of failure when it comes to customer service.

Source: Salesforce, State of Service, international study, December 2020.

The pandemic amplified the challenges that call centres had already been facing. Paradoxically, while consumers are displaying more understanding and empathy, they are also more and more demanding. As a general rule, customers now want to speak with just one person who is able to resolve a number of issues, even if they’re complex or interrelated.

In the fall of 2020, international giant Salesforce published results indicating that 83% of customers expected to be able to reach someone right away, and nothing less!

In this same report, Salesforce emphasizes that 71% of companies noticed an increase in calls to customer service since the start of the pandemic. 

What technological solutions exist for call centres?

There are several approaches to countering potential annoyances. A complete and well-indexed website including a detailed FAQ, a high-performance chatbot, a reactive presence on social media, frameworks for answers to recurring questions—these are all solutions that will enable you to increase the satisfaction rate amongst customers who would like to quickly find the information they’re looking for.

Above all, reconciling actual human contact with technology plays a crucial role in the quality of your customer relationships. Any gaps in this interconnection could have significant impacts on your business processes, even to the extent where, as explained in the abovementioned Salesforce report, technology is identified as companies’ most major point of failure when it comes to customer service. (Source: Salesforce, State of Service, international study, December 2020)

Cloud-based VoIP: For total communications management

For organizations looking to optimize costs, cloud-based phone communications are often part of their solutions. Companies pay based on their evolution and growth. Furthermore, a PBX (private branch exchange) is included in TIPN licences, which is actually a much more economical solution.

Take for example an SME that has a call centre with 5 to 10 customer service agents. Through teleworking, this kind of solution would allow the functionalities and security of a conventional call centre to be migrated to the worker’s residence. Amongst these functionalities are call forwarding and transfer, the configuration of opening hours, accessing voicemail from a PC, and the recording of voice messages for 90 days, for up to 7 years. A TIPN also allows the management of calls within a team composed of, for example, five agents, by establishing a well-defined order of priority for call reception and redirection.

In this kind of cloud-based strategy, telephone-Internet reconciliation and the accompanying cost optimization make for a cost-effective operation so long as you can obtain the right plan rate based on the actual needs of each employee.

In hybrid mode involving working from home and at the office, another point to consider is the ability to offer a unified service. The goal is to avoid duplicated training and technology as well as a potential risk of confusion. This harmonization is also a way of lightening the mental load and stress on employees, which are major factors in employee dissatisfaction and loss of motivation.

Productivity is the same or better when working remotely!

  • 75%of employees surveyed stated they maintained or improved their productivity during the first few months of the pandemic, whether for tasks completed on their own or as part of a group, or in terms of management.

Source : Boston Consulting Group surveny on employee perceptions in the U.S., Germany and India, cited in Les répercussions de la pandémie de COVID 19 sur la croissance de la productivité au Canada, Statistics Canada,  May 2021

Yes, you read that right! Contrary to certain pre-pandemic fears, teleworking does not seem to harm employees’ output. In some sectors, there have even been gains in productivity.

In recent months, the positive testimonies have increased amongst workers. Many have indicated a reduction in stress levels and less time wasted by commuting to work. Specifically, 75% of employees surveyed stated they maintained or improved their productivity during the first few months of the pandemic, whether for tasks completed on their own or as part of a group, or in terms of management. (Source : Boston Consulting Group surveny on employee perceptions in the U.S., Germany and India, cited in Les répercussions de la pandémie de COVID 19 sur la croissance de la productivité au Canada, Statistics Canada,  May 2021)

Collaboration is the key to evolving organizations

Beyond the cliché of hallway or coffee machine conversation, proximity often promotes fruitful discussions. Consider planned brainstorming sessions or informal lunches that sometimes lead to the creation of new ideas.

This is why it’s important to use collaborative tools that promote congeniality as well as competition when teleworking. Evolving out of static videoconferencing, there are now technologies for hosting inspiring and effective workshops and training sessions. The development of augmented reality, and its increased use, heralds the rise of immersive meetings in virtual rooms or in more enchanting locations. This is indeed the start of the metaverse (a parallel space where a community can interact through the use of avatars), which will be the ideal framework for developing new ideas!

The issue of mental health

In a report titled Le télétravail et la santé mentale, Québec’s Minister of Health and Social Services reminded readers of something that is often forgotten: “Work can have a positive effect on people’s mental health. Many studies have shown that people who are employed tend to enjoy better mental health than those who do not work.” It is rare that any individual or organization has not had to cope with situations involving mental health at work.

Anxiety, depression, and professional exhaustion are still among the issues that affect workers. Amongst the identified causes are overwork; a lack of support, recognition, autonomy, communication, information, or detailed instructions; and even a lack of flexibility when it comes to personal work-life balance.

Collaboration tools for better efficiency

In addition to filling in the aforementioned gaps, company management benefits from paying close attention to the factors that are key to achieving success. Maintaining social connections,  quality, and the performance of work tools are three elements to consider. If many collaborative tools are in use, guaranteeing easy access and use at the office and at home will certainly be among the activities you’ll need to undertake. To this end, cloud-based IP telephony offers a range of possibilities. Here are just a few of its benefits:

  • Complete solution including specialized equipment
  • Centralized call management
  • Adaptable to phone system changes
  • Personalized options, call centre functionalities
  • Call reception from anywhere
  • Backup of call history
  • Another competitive advantage is that companies who opt for these solutions make their employees more autonomous, harmonize their communication channels, take control of customer experience, and at the same time optimize a pillar that’s essential for growth.

    Daily optimization of management

    These collaboration tools integrate themselves into your processes, giving managers access to performance dashboards in real time that display histories and statistics and offer a panoply of management tools. In addition to these functionalities, having technical support available from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., every day, is essential for ensuring continuity in your quality of services.

    In terms of human resources, some companies take advantage of cloud solutions to automate the termination of access at a predetermined time, such as at 5 p.m. Employees and managers can thereby ensure their personal and work lives remain distinct, avoiding the overflow into precious personal time that sometimes leads to employee disengagement in the long term.

    Security for transactions and data: the power of the cloud

    Through being more informed about communication tools and more efficient as a teleworker, employees and employers both benefit by being on the same page, but this also includes in terms of systems and data security. Remote work has been a prime opportunity for bad actors to commit computer-related crime, such as hacking and phishing.

    • Remote work has been a prime opportunity for bad actors to commit computer-related crime, such as hacking and phishing.

    While remote work has exploded, this article from the Journal de Montréal demonstrates the extent to which threats to workers and companies lurk just around the corner. The journalist also emphasizes “the amazing potential of vulnerable workstations for cybercriminals, who see them as opportunities for installing ransomware or seizing business information.”

    Extending your security management

    The combination of cloud-based IP telephony and security as a service offers solutions via the web instead of internally. This solution enables management and IT managers to simultaneously handle security for workstations in the office and at home, including for employees who do not have a firewall, which represents the majority of employees!

    Through this approach, it’s possible to back up many levels of service and security irrespective of the number of workers, whether for large, medium, or small businesses. The Videotron Business team offers a complete range of solutions to this effect that are adaptable as each business evolves.

    Connected collaboration

    When it comes to connectivity, employees generally approach this in two ways. The first allows employees to use their personal Internet connection and be reimbursed later by their employer. The second involves providing a dedicated connection to each employee. This is a Business-class connection that ensures greater fluidity and a more stable connectivity to support interactions between collaborators and customers. Network stability, a guaranteed minimum bandwidth, and access to the company network are among the main advantages of having dedicated access. This solution is even more beneficial if your employees already have a home Internet connection, in addition to the one provided by their office. For example, if a member of the family is watching a movie on Netflix, your employee’s business connection won’t slow down since it’s a completely separate connection. So your employee can continue videoconferencing using a camera without experiencing any interruptions.

    A managed security solution allows the blocking or unblocking of certain websites and social media sites, the activation of notifications, the management of the location from which an employee can work, to see their browser history, and thereby obtain better feedback on professional activities during work hours.

    In Québec, a company like fibrenoire offers innovative cloud security and secure connection solutions for teleworkers at medium and large companies.

    By taking advantage of integrated and scalable cloud-based communication, you’ll spend less time managing your phone systems so you can focus on ensuring the growth of your company. And if you’re using a hybrid work model, this simple, affordable solution is definitely for you!

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