work from home call center

9 Problems Work From Home Call Center Agents Face (Solved!)

The coronavirus pandemic forced many call centers to switch to a work-from-home model. 

If yours was one of them, you know that while many agents love this type of work, it also brings plenty of challenges.  

In this article we’ll discuss nine of the most common issues call center agents face when working from home… and ideas about how to solve each one!

The key problems for a work from home call center are:

  1. Problems with IT
  2. Unsuitable equipment
  3. Lost Personal Connections
  4. Lack of Access to Information
  5. Lack of Daily Structure
  6. Insufficient Feedback
  7. Uneven relationships
  8. Distractions at Home
  9. Security Problems
remote agents

#1 Problems with IT

A study by 1E Tachyon found over a third of employees experience more IT issues while working at home. Not being able to work effectively due to tech issues is frustrating for agents and burdens IT staff.

Legacy software is a big problem. While many newer solutions are optimized for remote work, older solutions may not be. 

What’s the Fix?

It’s often possible to migrate older systems to the cloud to enable remote work. But a better solution is to switch to cloud-first contact center software

If you still use legacy software, now could be the perfect opportunity to update. There are plenty of options available that can easily integrate with your existing platforms.

#2 Unsuitable Equipment

It’s easy to assume that WFH agents can just switch on their laptops and start working. 

But that isn’t always the case. They may lack the specialized equipment necessary to perform well. 

Slow home computers, a lack of VoIP phone lines, and intermittent internet connections all cause issues. 

What’s the Fix?

Try to provide agents with the equipment they need. Let them take office equipment home when possible – this will save cash as you won’t need to buy new gear. 

Or give agents a specific work-from-home budget to help them set up at home. This is an added expense, but the benefits of more consistent, higher-quality service may be worth it. 

#3 Lost Personal Connections

People rely on the office to form connections with others. Working remotely sees these relationships vanish – which can be problematic.

A remote work survey by social media tool Buffer found that loneliness was the joint-second biggest problem faced by remote workers last year. 

It’s not a challenge unique to contact centers, but managers should take steps to help.

What’s the Fix?

Workforce communication software is key. These tools allow agents to maintain relationships with other people at your company. 

You can also use them to host meetings and team-building activities to keep people in the loop. 

remote agent loneliness

#4 Lack of Access to Information

Call center agents can quickly ask team members for assistance when issues occur in the office. 

But this is much harder to do when your call center is virtual. While experienced team members may get by, new hires are more likely to need a helping hand.

What’s the Fix?

Create documentation listing common challenges agents face. Upload this to the cloud so everyone has access. 

Knowledge base software makes creating these documents easy. These tools also often contain powerful search functionality that makes finding answers easy. 

Good workforce communication software helps by allowing agents to contact experienced staff for answers. 

virtual call center retention

#5 Lack of Daily Structure

Going to an office every day provides structure to our lives. Losing this means it is easy for work and personal life to blend into one. This is a significant challenge for some employees. 

What’s the Fix?

There are things you can do to help. Consider setting regular meetings, check-ins, or even virtual coffee breaks at key points during the day. This will make shifts seem as normal as possible.

The idea isn’t to replace everything agents would usually do. It’s to take the essential activities that add structure to the workday and adapt them in a way that makes sense for your team.

attention span

#6 Insufficient Feedback

It’s easy to give feedback when agents work in the office. You have clear visibility into how they are performing and can easily offer face-to-face pointers. 

But this isn’t always the case when you go remote. There are typically two main problems: 

  1. You lack visibility into how agents are performing. 
  2. It is harder to pass the information you have to agents. 

What’s the Fix?

Monitoring software helps solve the first problem. It gives managers insight into agent’s performance and goes some way towards making up for the lack of direct access. 

You have many options to solve the second problem. Schedule regular performance meetings to highlight what is going well and could be improved. 

Or create analytics dashboards that show each agent’s stats, so they know how they stack up. If you go this route, make sure you’re checking the right call center metrics.

work from home call center

#7 Uneven Relationships

Contact centers that allow remote work often operate with a mixed model. This allows some employees to stay at home, while others work from the office. 

This model seems like a perfect solution on the surface: it gives people flexibility over how they work. But it does have its problems. 

A Harvard Business Review study found that remote employees were often worried about being left behind. 

They are more likely to agree with statements like “Colleagues don’t fight for my priorities” or “Colleagues say bad things behind my back.”

What’s the Fix?

The good news is the survey respondents also pointed to potential solutions. They said managers that successfully managed remote employees were more likely to:

  • Check-in frequently and consistently.
  • Use face-to-face or voice-to-voice contact.
  • Communicate well.
  • Make their expectations explicit.
  • Be available.
  • Demonstrate familiarity with technology.
  • Prioritize relationships. 

Consider these points if you manage both remote and office-based employees.

off-site call center agents

#8 Distractions at Home

Distractions at home are a huge challenge for agents who lack a dedicated workspace.

There’s no single fix as agents face different distractions. Parents struggling with the needs of a child face different problems to agents bothered by noisy flatmates. 

What’s the Fix?

Providing agents with a budget to set up a dedicated workspace may help when a home is large enough to fit one. 

Or you could allow greater shift selection flexibility, thus enabling agents to work when distractions are minimal. 

In other cases, you may have to plan for disruptions and be flexible in how you deal with them. 

#9 Security Problems

Security is our final work-from-home challenge. It is especially pressing if your contact center deals with sensitive customer data. 

What’s the Fix?

The most effective thing to do is educate staff about the problems they may face. Put in place clear guidelines about how to work and what to do when threats arise. 

Asking agents to connect to your network through a VPN will improve network security. Or consider providing secure work computers that you know are free from malware. 
(You can learn more about making your remote call center secure right here.)

The Work From Home Call Center is Here to Stay

Remote work is new to many of us. It has many benefits and agents often love working at home. But, there are still challenges. 

Hopefully, the tips on this list will have highlighted some potential issues to consider. If you want to find out more about how to help your agents, then check our 7 tips to make life easier for agents

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