Cloud contact center vendor Talkdesk last week announced a multipronged approach to help organizations with their business continuity plans by enabling quick work-at-home setups for contact center agents.
While work from home has been an option businesses have turned to from time to time to augment their contact center staff — say to meet demands of the holiday shopping season — it’s rarely the primary way of working for most organizations. Never before have businesses had to plan to have the entire contact center staff work from home as they do today in combatting the spread of COVID-19.
And when they have set up agents to work from home, they’ve typically had weeks or even months to plan for it. COVID-19 came fast and left companies scrambling to set up agents at home at a time when many customers have more angst than they ever have. Many businesses find themselves needing to keep in touch with their customers, both reactively and proactively. Instead of giving into the uncertainty, businesses can evolve their contact centers by shifting to the cloud.
One of the big advantages of an “as a service” model is that agents can be brought up in the time it takes to make a few mouse clicks. Extending on-premises systems to agents working from home comes with a number of infrastructure challenges, such as the need to set up VPN clients and buy firewalls and/or VPN concentrators that have enough capacity to handle the increase in users. In addition, most businesses don’t have nearly enough VPN licenses to connect everyone in the organization.
Lastly, there’s the user side of the things. Mobile professionals, like myself, can troubleshoot VPN connectivity problems. But most contact center agents have never worked from home and can get overwhelmed. One CIO I talked to recently told me it takes about 30 minutes of IT time per user to ensure VPN clients are installed and configured correctly. Trying to extend an on-premises solution to a home office is expensive, time consuming, and can frustrate agents.
Talkdesk’s Crisis Response
The three offerings Talkdesk introduced last week are meant to address the urgency of moving agents to remote locations. Talkdesk already services businesses, like retailers, that have fluctuating customer service needs. It also helps businesses expedite the transition from on-premises to cloud contact centers as part of its business continuity program. The new offerings are:
- Talkdesk Now — designed to get businesses up and running on Talkdesk in less than a day. With this service, Talkdesk is targeting businesses that want to dump their on-premises automatic call distributors (ACDs) now and fully migrate to the cloud. All agents get access to Talkdesk’s intuitive and rich user interface and the tools they need to serve customers remotely. In actuality, Talkdesk said it could get people up and running in under an hour, but it must account for non-technical issues such as training, so the company cites 24 hours to be safe.
- Talkdesk Mobile Agent — enables agents to use any mobile device as a full-featured customer support tool. The solution is an alternative to the usual work-from-home setup, which includes laptops, headsets, and other hardware. It obviates the burden that companies have of buying a bunch of new hardware. Agents can take inbound calls and make outbound calls on their devices as if they were at their desks at work, then log conversations after the call.
- Talkdesk Boost — this option is for businesses that want to preserve their legacy investments while transitioning to the cloud. Talkdesk Boost allows a company to retain its ACD while moving its contact center to the cloud. That migration would take about 14 days. An existing ACD, which answers and routes incoming calls to different departments within a company, can be updated with intelligent cloud applications to enable next-generation contact centers staffed by remote agents. This is the least disruptive model and preserves workflows and provides agent consistency
In addition to these offerings, Talkdesk introduced capabilities aimed at making it easier for supervisors to manage remote teams. Talkdesk Live provides real-time metrics and insights into agent activity, and Talkdesk Explore is a customizable business intelligence tool. Also available is free and unlimited call recording for reviewing interactions on demand. These tools provide eyes and ears on remote agents, which is much more efficient than the “look over the shoulder” model.
Cloud Helps Save Lives
Being able to expand contact center operations can be a matter of life and death for healthcare companies during a crisis. Doctolib, a French company that provides consultation management software to doctors and online appointment-booking for patients, had to shift all of its agents to work from home. Doctolib was able to act quickly using Talkdesk, allowing the agents to continue assisting doctors who provide telehealth consultations.
"Due to the coronavirus outbreak, Doctolib has shifted all employees into remote work environments using Talkdesk,” said Frédéric Nguyen, vice president of information technology, Doctolib. “We had to act quickly since our agents assist doctors to implement telehealth consultations, and Talkdesk allowed us to make that change fast.”
Customers crave seamlessness when reaching out to contact centers and moving between channels. Cloud contact centers have the unique opportunity to offer flexible working hours to agents and provide 24/7 services to customers in a time of need. When agents can’t be physically present in the office, they can respond to inquiries remotely any time of day over any channel.
Upgrading legacy systems to meet omnichannel demands of modern customers is a long, costly process. By migrating contact centers to the cloud, businesses can stay one step ahead. Efficiency and agility are expected whether office doors are open or not. That statement couldn’t be truer than it is now.
Check out the Enterprise Connect Virtual session, "Market Report: The Cloud Contact Center Challenge —Transition, not Technology" (available on demand), for a rundown on how other contact center providers have responded to the current work-from-home mandate.
Editor's note: The article has been modified from its original version.