Thanks to the UK’s weather, we can be guaranteed the opportunity at least once a year to discuss the merits of mobile or home working as part of a business continuity strategy. But in 2020, forget snow disruption or storms Ciara and Dennis, the Coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown has thrust organisation’s ability to mobilise into the spotlight like never before.
Most organisations have long had the ability to support agile working by some staff for some of the time, especially amongst employees whose role is less defined by place, such as sales people. Mobile phone use on these occasions is pretty standard, and depending on the sophistication of your telephony system, these can be seamlessly linked to desk phones, or supplemented or replaced by softphones. During the short disruptions we’ve endured in recent years, telephony has never really been a concern.
But it’s different now. Think about the insurer with a 5000 strong customer-facing operation? What do they do now they can’t get into their call centres? Then there are those whose office-based operating environment and technology give them the compliance controls that are part and parcel of their job, such as financial service advisors. How do they stay operating in a regulated way? Indeed, how does any organisation, with its staff spread across hundreds or thousands of individual locations, effectively orchestrate those resources, get visibility of calls, get support in where it is needed, move, change and amend the system easily so that calls are not getting missed?
There are plenty of companies out there sighing with relief that, among all of the challenges we’ve all had to face during the pandemic, mobilising their workforce for home working on a complete ‘as if in the office’ basis is not one of them.
What they have in common is a past decision to a) move to a managed telephony provider and b) embrace a solution that allows for a huge and rapid scaling of capacity and capability when it comes to call handling, call recording and call reporting. Those five thousand call centre workers who need to work from home? No problem.
Here’s one way of getting them plugged in: the managed delivery of IP telephony, integrated with Microsoft Teams and our PTSN-calling-from-Teams option, combined with tools such as Akixi call reporting and secure call recording. Or put another way taking all the enterprise functionality – call forwarding, hunt groups, receptionists, call flows etc – and extending it beyond the walls of the office and into everyone’s home.
I had reason to call my pet insurance provider earlier this month. I had exactly the same experience as normal, the automated attendant advised me to press two, then advised me of my position in the queue, and then I was through to an operator. The only reason I know the call had terminated in her front room and not the office was because her dog barked at an inopportune moment.
Obviously absence levels either through sickness or furlough will have put pressure on responsiveness. Equally, economics will be forcing through some difficult decisions around resourcing in places. If you know how many calls you are receiving, call duration, operator availability, where, how and when to route calls to maintain service levels, this is all just another pressure point, but one that can be relieved by that mix of reporting and enterprise control.
But none of that can happen if you don’t have the managed, hosted telephony platform to begin with. Because only with that in place can you scale at pace; achieve the requisite degree of home worker integration; maintain consistent functionality across all settings; manage call volumes and flow; and stay secure and compliant.
Up and down the land people’s desk phones are gathering dust. Those using PTSN calling with Microsoft Teams now have the simplest of interfaces to make and take calls. When we finally get back to our offices, will those phones be dusted off – or ditched for good?