Challenges and Solutions of IT Support for Call Center Employees

At NetBeez lately we’ve been talking with an ever increasing number of customers that are looking for solutions and tools to provide IT support to their call center employees. This strikes a chord because not too long ago I authored the post, “Does Work From Home Work for Call Center Employees? A Study from 2013!” In a nutshell, the conclusion of that study was that call center employees are a particularly good fit for remote work since it’s beneficial for the employees satisfaction, productivity, office-space cost savings, and attrition. The most significant disadvantage was 50% lower promotions for WFH employees.

Obviously, the pandemic was a huge validation experiment for the 2013 study and in the post-pandemic world call center employees are the ones that are more likely to remain remote since there are so many benefits to both the employer and the employees. This comes with a challenge though: how to offer IT support to call center employees. 

Challenges

The main responsibility of call center employees is to interact with end customers, which makes them the face of their company. If poor audio gets in the way, then a cascade of bad outcomes follow:

Customer Dissatisfaction: Customers that are trying to get support already have issues with the company’s products or services, and topping that with a poor communication experience is guaranteed to leave them even more dissatisfied and disappointed. That defeats the purpose of a call center, since after all, their purpose is to INCREASE customer satisfaction which translates to better business outcomes.

Employee Dissatisfaction: Employees shouldn’t feel that they are left out to dry with underwhelming support when they need help with their equipment, tools, and connectivity. What makes support more difficult is that usually call center employees are not technically-savvy which makes technical support more challenging. It often consists of doing a shared screen (if possible) or providing troubleshooting instructions and guidance blindly over the phone to them. The time spent on this is time taken from the employees’ productive work as well as increasing dissatisfaction about their work experience and employer.

IT Help-Desk Dissatisfaction: On the receiving end of an open support ticket is the IT help desk which now is tasked with having to help and connect employees working from home. This makes their job much more difficult since they have to deal with consumer grade WiFi and ISPs, multiple time zones, and an inability to physically examine the user’s laptop, keyboard, or headset. If they struggle to offer the support they are supposed to, their dissatisfaction and work experience also takes a downturn.

Solution

Since call center employees are not on the enterprise network or on campus anymore, bringing support on par with the pre-pandemic times requires new processes and tooling. The goal is to eliminate as many failure points as possible that can affect their connectivity which can hinder their day-to-day activities. But when inevitable issues arise, there is a need for adequate visibility into their environment to be able to detect disruptions and troubleshoot them.

Processes: Employees need to be advised to take steps to improve their network connectivity. For example, recommend plugging into their home router if possible with a cable instead of using WiFi. If that’s not possible, recommending that they stay close to their WiFi router and potentially increase coverage by advising that they use a mesh solution as opposed to a repeater. Train them on how to report issues so that the help desk has as much information as possible to help them.

Tools: A new generation of tools can achieve better visibility into the user’s environment by collecting data around their digital experience. This is done by a software agent running on the user’s laptop which continuously provides metrics around latency, jitter, packet loss, WiFi signal/SNR/noise, application response time and others. A server collects and processes all of that data and the help desk can access it to understand if there are any users having a poor digital experience and have the data to understand what is the root cause. 

Here is what WiFi metrics from a user’s laptop can look like in terms of MCS, Signal Strength, and Noise levels.

Here is what a poor Mean Opinion Score (MOS) experience looks like presented together with latency and packet loss:

Not having the right data to support users and trying to collect it manually can be really frustrating and disruptive. The right tools give visibility and make supporting remote uses more manageable. 

No matter how well everything is planned and implemented, there are always going to be user experience issues and the question is whether you are armed with the right tools to address them. The technology exists…