The Importance of Pivoting for Call Center Agencies During a Crisis (and 4 Things We Did to Make It Work)

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The ability to be flexible and pivot business strategies is essential, and the companies that have been able to do so during the pandemic have remained afloat. Some companies have actually grown and become even more efficient because of their ability and willingness to change to meet the demands of a new reality. Call center agencies like Telecom, Inc. had to adapt quickly to meet the challenges posed the Covid-19 health crisis in order to stay relevant. Telecom’s ability to restructure and refocus demonstrates the importance of pivoting in a time of crisis, as well as offering a viable model for success. Here are our top four pivoting strategies:

1. Understand When Changes Need to Be Made

That the pandemic has caused significant disruption to the economy is an understatement. When rumblings of the pandemic were just starting throughout most of the United States in March of 2020, the Bay Area emerged as an early center of the Covid-19 pandemic and was the first geographic area in the U.S. to legally impose a lockdown. With our headquarters located in Oakland, California, we knew we had to act quickly.

As the lockdown required businesses to close and residents to stay at home, it became readily apparent to us that foundational changes needed to be made quickly, and we took immediate action. Within a 72-hour period, our team worked tirelessly to ensure that all members of our workforce were set up to work from home (WFH). We provided employees with computers containing proper security configurations and made sure each home office contained broadband internet connections and communication devices that met our established technical requirements. Our IT team worked to apply existing WFH best practices establish VPN connections and run necessary tests to allow them to begin providing support for our clients.

2. Set Up Employees to Work From Home

Telecom was fortunate, relative to many contact centers, that approximately 50% of our workforce was already set up to work remotely. Additionally, we had another 20% of our staff working remotely a few days per week prior to Alameda County’s Shelter in Place Order on March 17, 2020. We had the necessary software, hardware, technical and security requirements and documentation, compliance standards, and WFH best practices in place – provisions that allowed us to continue to our client’s projects with no downtime or hiccups.

Work from home initiatives should be part of every agency’s business continuity strategy, if not a part of their delivery model in general. There are benefits for employers, the most obvious dividend being reduced overhead. And companies that provide remote staffing hold another advantage – they remove geographical limitations to the pool of qualified labor they can tap into. This allows agencies to broaden their employment forces, adding people who have important skills, such as additional languages, specialized training or specific technical expertise. At Telecom, Inc., we know this firsthand – our expertly trained domestic delivery team has always been split between our California headquarters and home offices throughout the United States.

3. Expedite Necessary Equipment

As a mid-size boutique contact center, our size worked in our favor, compared to a smaller company that couldn’t afford to make expedited changes or a larger company that may not have been able to pivot fast enough.

Telecom, Inc. quickly distributed 17 company laptops and ordered and shipped 45 system compatible headsets to our employees stationed throughout the United States. Our IT team also ordered necessary odds and ends as well, such as CAT5 cables, PC peripherals, and so forth, and shipped everything overnight.

Telecom’s clients never experienced a loss of service on our partnered programs. We maintained our service levels during the transition, and key members of our management team and all of our IT staff worked nonstop for several days, hustling to make sure 100% of our employees were able to work from home. Working efficiently was key to our quick turnaround.

4. Lean Into Remote Software & Training Materials

Telecom, Inc. has been using video conferencing and messaging software for years, both internally and remotely, so that aspect was straightforward with no real learning curve. We simply needed to install our software on the computers not already configured to support remote agents. The training materials and other support documentation for programs being served by our team were available in digital format, and the software systems we use throughout the company are configured to allow staff to work wherever they can access the internet with the proper credentials.

Our hybrid premise/cloud-based software and server configuration allowed for remote administration, so even though we did have upper management and IT check in on the office, there was no need to. Everything was safe and secure.

Impact of Covid-19 on Call Center Agencies

For call center agencies, the importance of pivoting during the crisis has been a mix of meeting challenges to maintain business continuity and provide uninterrupted customer service. To succeed, doing so required meeting the needs of their employees while delivering for their clients.

Telecom’s success was due to our foresight, preparedness, and ability to adapt quickly when crisis struck—to restructure, refocus and transition seamlessly as requirements evolved in response to the pandemic. The prime advantage for Telecom, Inc. was already operating with a split staff of virtual and premise-based agents. Our business model was designed for business continuity and we transitioned to 100% working from home without missing a beat. With best practices in place and a viable, replicable business model, Telecom, Inc. has been fully functional during the pandemic and has thrived by meeting the needs of its customers and employees.

If you’re interested in learning more about Telecom, Inc. and how we can effectively serve as a contributor to your business please contact us today!

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