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Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow

January 12th, 2010

The UK is famed for many things; William Shakespeare, fish and chips, The Royal Family however maybe our most infamous British characteristic is our unpredictable weather.

This most recent bout of snowfall has been particularly horrendous, with many villages cut off from the rest of the country.

One of the overriding factors of the snow and ice and sleet and the wind and rain (the list goes on and on) is that many people have been unable to travel to their place of work. In some cases, this is entirely understandable, and the roads have indeed been treacherous. Others, however, have seen this as a perfect opportunity for a free holiday, ‘trapped’ at home and unable to possibly even entertain the idea of getting wrapped in countless layers and heading into the office.

Here in the CallScripter office, we have had several team members who have struggled to make it in, but even on those very rare occasions that it has proved impossible, they have still been able to work from home thanks to our well-connected hosting infrastructure.

Due to the snow, call centres up and down the country saw a dramatic increase of calls handled, due to car breakdowns, overflow call handling and accidents happening on the icy roads. Indeed our sister company, a call centre, managed a record-breaking amount of calls last week, a 25-40% increase in calls compared to an average week; this resulted in Wednesday being the busiest day on record in the call centre’s 12-year history.

However what happens if agents are unable to get into your call centre on time? Many journey times have been doubled, if not tripled, and that is if the roads are even accessible and safe to drive on; this ultimately puts call centres at risk, by looking unprofessional to their clients as call waiting times are increased. Therefore the customer on hold gets more and more impatient at the slow response time. Resulting in a no win, frustrating situation for all involved.

So what can be done to counter-act this? The cynical among us may say that people have to sleep in the office or set off three hours before their shift is due to start. However, the practicalities of this are not exactly realistic.

One solution that is currently working for a new breed of call centres is that of homeworking. By employing homeworkers your agents can work from the comfort of their homes; without putting their safety at risk by driving through the snow and ice; they will never be late, due to traffic or snow blocking the road; and as long as you ensure you have a reliable connection, callers will never realise that your agents are anywhere but the office! They can be sitting in their pyjamas handling calls, and no-one will be any the wiser.

By implementing homeworkers agents have the ability to work uninterrupted and also cover irregular shift patterns or emergency spikes in traffic (i.e. during a blizzard), meaning that productivity is higher and your clients receive a more comprehensive service.

Also, a hosted home working solution provides something extra for your customers. By having an organised system it can be utilised from any location, at any time, yet offers all the features and functionality of the premise based scripting software. The primary benefit of this solution is that there are no geographical barriers, meaning that your agents can work from anywhere, as long as they have a PC, a telephone and access to the Internet. It can also be scaled up or down, depending on demand.

Therefore it is perfect for emergency situations like the one we are currently experiencing with the snow. At peak times, and in crisis situations, you can just assign more of your agents to work from home, and when things begin to calm down, homeworking operations can immediately be scaled down, and your agents can resume their position within your call centre.

By the way, this year has started weather-wise (and certainly looks set to continue for the foreseeable future) can you afford not to implement a home working solution, even if it is just as a disaster recovery measure?