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There are times, and perhaps never more so than in the fast-moving, disruptive world of today, when you need to rapidly set up a contact centre to support operations.

It’s no small feat - you have to choose the right platform, recruit a team and ensure appropriate scripts. Here’s what we’ve learned from helping many of our clients to respond at speed:

Develop an agile culture

Critical to ramping up services is a culture of agility, such as senior teams who can be contacted 24 hours a day. No matter how advanced the technology, an underlying ability and willingness to move fast must be embedded in your organisation. 

At Capita we’ve embraced that approach: for one client responding to the current coronavirus pandemic, we received a call on a Saturday morning, senior teams were writing scripts by the afternoon, recruitment took place on Sunday and by 8am on Monday some 100 people were ready to answer calls from anxious customers. Within 2 weeks we’d stood up a team of 1,000 people.

Be prepared to operate remotely

Senior teams need to be able to access information, and each other, outside of traditional office hours. At Capita we’ve been putting contingency plans in place so, even though the scale of the Covid-19 disruption is unprecedented, the cultural and practical fundamentals of how we could react were already established, enabling us to respond quickly.

Have the right people on board from the start

To stand up enough people of the right calibre in the right place, your recruitment needs to be well-advanced. As the UK’s biggest contact centre business, we always have potential staff in the pipeline which means we can mobilise new people immediately whilst adding resilience by redeploying our existing large, versatile workforce.

Cascade, cascade, cascade

We believe in ‘training to train’ - not only do we bring new teams up to speed fast, but we identify people best placed to pass on what they’ve learned and support them to share this. So as the number of agents rises, so does the number of trainers, ensuring even the newest members of the team are prepared.

Use the right platform

A single, integrated, coherent system is great for getting a responsive service up and running quickly. Our preferred system features a scripting tool, CRM, recording facilities, blended inbound and outbound call handling, a real-time management information suite, and the option of communicating via text and email.

Rewrite scripts without stopping 

It’s crucial to be able to continue operations as scripts are being updated, especially when advice for members of the public changes with fast-moving events. Even with streams of calls coming in, we can update a phrase immediately with no need to pause anything - we make the change, enter it in the system and the very next call is met by the revised script.

Learn fast, change every day

With emergency ramp-ups, circumstances and messages constantly shift. In one instance we launched a new contact centre with the customer not certain of what they could legally say. The first 24 hours became a vital exercise in reassuring callers that ‘we’re here, we’re on top of it, we’ll get back to you soon’. As information trickled out, we updated the FAQs, re-briefed the teams and rewrote the scripts, with every one of the first 20 days delivering something different.

Make the most of your feedback

Contact centre agents are a two-way resource. Not only do they advise customers, but they provide valuable insight back to the business in terms of what callers are saying – crucial for ascertaining whether you’re addressing their key concerns. It’s one of the reasons we give rapid ramp-ups their own dedicated client services director, so messaging stays fully attuned to customers’ needs.

Make homeworking work for you and your agents

We’ve been considering homeworking security and compliance for some time – what agents working from home can and can’t do with personal or financial information, for example, and how to operate double authentication. We know which calls can safely be routed to a homeworker, and which must remain in a contact centre environment. And we know about peaks, troughs and shifts – useful for supporting agents looking to work a late shift after getting the kids to bed.

Benefit from an experienced partner 

For many it will be the first time you’ve needed to ramp up emergency operations. It’s not for us -we’ve helped other customers respond to disruptive events and can guide you through the process, helping you identify next steps, and where the surprises will most likely arise. We’ll help you focus on the most important job: to answer enquiries quickly, accurately and responsibly. Get that right and everything else follows.

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