Like many of us, those working front-of-house – as receptionists, call handlers, and in administrative positions – continue to face a number of challenges as the world of work remains in a state of flux.
Let’s look at some of the most common problems they face and consider some ways to make things a little easier.
Working from home is our new reality. It is the new reality that it is very possible to continue and after the COVID pandemic.
Having some form of separation between home and work when you’re in the same space 24/7 isn’t easy. But there are ways to draw clear distinctions. For example, routine can be very liberating. Setting fixed hours for work, rest, and play is key to keeping a sense of balance.
For those employed to handle incoming calls and queries, work time may be dictated by office opening hours – which sets a natural cadence.
But having some degree of flexibility is important too. After all, the way everyone else works has changed, so perhaps starting work an hour earlier or later – in exchange for a little more time away during the day – could be worth a discussion.
Managing the increasing number of calls.
Managing incoming calls remotely adds another layer of complexity to a receptionist’s day. Understanding the caller’s query, deciding the best course of action to take, and who to direct or escalate the call to can be tricky under normal circumstances.
But when there’s no-one else around to discuss things with – such as nearby colleagues or managers – and when it’s clear there’s multiple callers waiting patiently, all eager to explain their inquiry – an even bigger backlog can form.
Covering multichannel inquiries.
In a modern contact center – or in fact any customer service environment – frontline staff don’t just have incoming calls to deal with. Customers use a variety of channels: from email to social media; messaging platforms to video chat.
While businesses are keen to provide all of these comms options to their customers, keeping a close eye on each of them can be a challenge for frontline service staff: even more so when they’re working ‘isolation’ from the rest of the team.
Limited knowledge of their colleagues’ availability
One of the biggest, perhaps the most prohibitive aspect of remote call handling is knowing where the rest of the team are.
A customer knows a senior member of staff by name… but where is she? Without being able to look across the room to see she’s there – or without any knowledge of her schedule, all the call handler can do is take a message: which frankly, doesn’t present them in the best light – and can be frustrating for the caller.
Difficulty in scheduling meetings
In a similar way, arranging meetings (virtual or other) for customers and other team members can be tricky too. Syncing calendars and finding available time slots that suit all parties just ends up being a game of email ping-pong.
So all things considered, how can frontline teams overcome these common challenges?
What would help? Access to contextual information relating to each caller – to make it fast, efficient, and easy to direct their call – along with additional features such as calendar widgets, contact management, simple transferals, and queue management.
There are solutions out there that can do this and a whole lot more. That’s exactly what our own Receptionist platform was designed for: to meet the changing needs of call handlers; to give them the tools necessary to boost their productivity – which ultimately leads to a better customer experience.
However, what’s important to remember is that regardless of where you’re working, the rest of the team is still there for support, so don’t be afraid to reach out to them directly.
But, with the right communication solution in place, team interactions don’t have to be merely transactions – they can become more meaningful.
About PeterConnects Receptionist
Receptionist, from PeterConnects, is a telephone operator console that streamlines call handling from a single, integrated ‘pane of glass’.
A web-based, cloud-hosted application, this powerful tool offers a range of smart features that are designed to optimize efficiencies, reduce customer friction, and improve the overall caller experience.
Receptionist is available for Webex Calling and for BroadWorks.