Advantages of Hybrid Agent Workforce Over Brick and Mortar Call Center
Your call center partner decision impacts your results. Let’s face it. You have a lot to do. You need a trustworthy partner who does not require lots of intervention. You need an outsourcing center with a reliable business model and a demonstrated ability to manage the agents to achieve successful results. What’s the importance of a hybrid agent workforce model?
The COVID impact of 2020 has dramatically influenced the short term performance of brick and mortar contact centers. Companies have shifted to off-site agents and taken advantage of more digital ways to conduct business. They also have realized some of the benefits of a remote workforce. It is flexible for both companies and employees and an excellent way to accommodate the associates’ needs.
Before this time, most contact centers were all brick and mortar or all work from home. Now, a new breed of centers promoting a hybrid workforce model is finding an even better outsource model.
Brick and Mortar vs. Work from Home
Here is a quick review of how these models work. Brick and mortar call centers bring employees into a physical center. Here, teams of agents work in a dedicated or shared fashion to provide round-the-clock coverage. Centers typically have open floors with agents sitting close together. This helps in managing the agents. Supervisors can easily tell who is in place and who is busy on the phones. It provides the security of data because access to the center is restricted.
Devices are locked down, and unauthorized devices can be monitored. Compliance is easier to maintain too. Clients can come in to “see” the entire operation and meet with anyone at their convenient time. Finally, supervisors can easily monitor their teams and interact personally to assist or coach.
There are challenges to brick and mortar centers. First, the physical center is itself a cost. There are rent, upkeep, and operational expenses to incur. Flexibility can be a challenge. You can only respond with the agents in-house and available. Managing spikes, and lulls, often leads to overstaffing or depressed service levels. During periods of bad weather and other conditions, attendance can be dramatically impacted.
When you have an all-at-home team, your workforce is more flexible and variable. Agents can be moved on and off programs easily. If you have an unanticipated spike, agents can immediately log-in and service the customer.
There is no physical center cost. Moreover, the work-from-home model accommodates everyone, including parents with young children or seniors to look after. It reduces cases of absenteeism due to health issues because the agents are not expected to leave their homes to work in an office. Mildly sick workers, who might normally come to work and risk infecting others, can stay home and still work.
The work-from-home model comes with its drawbacks too. Agents must be focused and independent. They face a lot of distractions while working from home. Attitudes and dress might be more casual. These issues can interfere with work and mar the impression given to associates and customers.
Family interruptions and background noises can detract agents from customer engagement and hurt the brand. Security and compliance are more of a challenge in a dispersed environment. The lack of personal interaction and feedback can make work from home agents feel isolated and out of touch. New employees often do not get to know their peers’ work progress. They also lack teamwork because it features a distributed workforce.
A Better Way, the Hybrid Workforce Model
We believe there is a strong case for the hybrid workforce model. It helps to minimize the challenges of the other two models and elevate the positives. Here are a couple of ways it works.
The Hybrid Center – Save Cost while Maintaining Connections
The hybrid model has a traditional contact center, but it much smaller. It is intended to staff the senior managers so they can interact quickly on decisions and stay in touch with the team. It also gives our clients a place to visit and interact with their agents.
Also, a select number of agents prefer to work in a center due to the lack of an excellent off-site location or for personal preference. The smaller center is also used to onboard new employees to assist with training, assimilation, and to develop a close interaction with their team.
Finally, there are workspaces for a representative number of agents. They are used on a rotating basis by the remaining agents. Typically, teams will be assigned specific in-center days to allow them to get together for social group meetings, refresher training, and professional development. The goal is to have each agent work from the center for a few days, at least every several weeks.
The work environment has also changed. More space is allowed for social distancing in all areas. It features bigger cubicles that are separated by clear walls or windows. Sanitizing is done at shift change. Other precautions have been taken to provide a safe environment for the employees. In this model, most of the agents will work from home.
Technology has improved security and management capabilities to perform in a remote environment effectively. Training techniques have been revamped to improve retention. For each program, the benefits of working from home are enjoyed by the client, associate, and company.
The Hub and Spoke spin on Hybrid Centers
At GCS, we have designed a Hub and Spoke system to support our Hybrid model. Each small Call Center is the hub for the agents in its area. It provides those agents with the resources and opportunities described above. For large programs or to provide business continuity, Hubs can be linked together, creating spokes.
What’s Best for Your Program?
That depends. Every program is unique. COVID-19 chased many programs out of centers, but that flow has slowed. In fact, some programs are coming back to the more traditional center model as safer work practices have made that possible.
For your program? Let’s talk. By working with an experienced and diverse company like GCS, you can benefit from finding the RIGHT solution for you. Contact us and speak to our team and share your goals and challenges. We will provide an honest assessment and next steps for you to consider.
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