Case Study: Here Today, Home Tomorrow, a Call Center Response to Covid-19

Article 1: Understanding the Challenges of a Customer Service Leader Series

How One Company is Moving 4,000 Customer Service Agents to Home During the COVID-19 Crisis.

The Challenge

To kick off our series diving into the current challenges of customer service leaders, we interviewed our President, Mark Schordock, to discuss how the Company is rapidly moving over 4,000 contact center agents to an at-home model. We are gathering these industry perspectives in this series, and offering them to the market with the hope that they benefit the leaders on the front lines.  Keeping essential businesses open and functional for consumers during the COVID-19 crisis is feasible with the right approach.

Our focus, like our clients, is providing a quality customer experience while simultaneously maintaining strict security and regulatory compliance. With agents across multiple locations, we quickly determined how to handle the increase in inbound and outbound calls while our people’s lives were in turmoil. Allowing our people to continue to work, while complying with the important social distancing and shelter-in-place orders, has been positive for everyone involved.

–Mark Schordock

Best Practices

Mark Schordock provides valuable insights into how GC Services accomplished such a bold and pioneering undertaking:

With the stay-at-home orders in place across various states, we had to consider what to do with our workforce. After various meetings with our executive leaders and consultation with our clients, we deployed our emergency work-at-home initiative across all of our contact center locations. We reviewed our processes in order to classify and identify those essential functions necessary to maintain operations. After classifying those functions, we instituted a work-at-home policy. Within 10 days we had 1,200 employees working from home and as of last week, that number is over 3,000.  Our employees want to work and our clients need us to continue to enable them to provide excellent service.

To remain in compliance with the social distancing requirements suggested by the CDC, we had to reconfigure cubicle designs (for those functions requiring in-office availability) pursuant to CDC guidelines. We staggered agent breaks and lunches to ensure there are no large gatherings. We work closely with local agencies who are in our facilities regularly to ensure we are exceeding their requirements and guidelines. Nothing is more important than keeping our people safe.

We align with each of our clients on the security and compliance requirements and our plans are built around those important foundational principles. We are in constant dialog with our clients to ensure the work-at-home environment meets each of their specific needs. To meet our clients’ strict security and compliance guidelines, we have taken the following steps:

 

  • We screen our agents carefully and we monitor their performance continually. Agents require coaching on how to maintain quality in an at-home environment and our supervisors are working with all of them daily.
  • Our management dashboards continue to monitor and track agent performance, regardless of where they are working and still provide the visibility into performance on which our supervisors rely.
  • We utilize cameras to observe the agent’s workspace, give feedback, observe sensitive transactions and capture agent log-in and log out times.
  • We secure workstations and our networks to limit certain activities.
  • We have created sub-queues, based on client direction, to restructure workflow processes, e.g. forcing call transfers for transactions our clients do not wish home agents to process.

As a result of shifting a significant amount of our workforce to a work-at-home environment, we have presented our employees with an opportunity to earn income in this ever-changing economic climate. Our clients need us to perform and we require our skilled agents to deliver our service. We believe many of our clients that have considered but not yet pursued at-home models, will move in this direction even when the restrictions are lifted. We have found our agent attendance has improved, and our new training classes are completely full. As clients continue to scramble to increase their staff in order to support their clients, we feel this could be the new normal and are in discussions to leverage this as an improved model to maintain and retain quality agents, while responding to emergency situations.

  • Our IT professionals are on hand to address any system-related issues to ensure timely response with minimal disruption.
  • We thoroughly test our technology prior to sending it out to our agents’ homes to ensure we have worked through all the potential computer, software, telephony, and network issues.
  • Agents can always reach our help-desk and Quality Assurance support teams, which is staffed 24 hours per day by the COVID-19 response team.
  • Because of our longstanding partnership with our telecom providers, we very quickly increased our Internet bandwidth to ensure that our at home agents are equipped with the connectivity they need to support our clients and their customers.

The customer experience industry will emerge from COVID-19 with a more resilient workforce, better processes to adapt to change, and a confidence that it can deliver excellent experiences in the most challenging of situations. These are very challenging times for our industry but we will emerge much, much stronger.

We Want To Hear From You

We are collecting the fantastic customer experience stories of resilience in the face of this tremendous challenge, and we’d love to hear yours. Enter your email address in the form below and we’ll have an interviewer coordinate a time to talk with you.

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