Every office struggles when flu season rolls around. Whether it’s absenteeism because the employee is ill or perhaps they have a sick child, the end result is the same. In a call center, flu season can cause a negative impact to your team, your customers and your metrics. Those agents who are still capable find themselves working more shifts to cover for those who are out ill, making for long winter days and creating some morale issues. Customers are frustrated because of long hold times or delayed interactions, and are most likely dealing with their own flu challenges. And metrics? They take a dive when you have a large segment of your agents out with the flu. There’s just no good way around it.
Or is there?
One of the benefits of having atHome™ virtual agents is, well, they are at home. While this does not mean they never get sick, they do have the ability to minimize contact which can certainly help keep them out of the flu zone.
Another benefit is you can recruit the best agents without the limitations of geography, giving you access to a deeper talent pool. Plus, you have agents that may not be in an area where the flu is so rampant.
Every year since 2006, Google.org has predicted flu outbreaks by mapping areas where flu-based searches spike. The results are so accurate that they now partner with the Centers for Disease Control to create what the CDC calls an effective early warning system for emergency rooms. You can see from the images below that every state is impacted by the flu this year, and only a few are not showing serious numbers. (Check out the full Google Flu site here.)
Another tricky issue with the flu is that you are contagious two days before you show signs. In a brick-and-mortar call center, or any office, this means you can infect several people before you even know you are sick. Virtual agents minimize this impact to the workplace simply because they do not typically interact in person with co-workers.
With or without a flu shot, experience has taught us that people still get the flu. Deciding to utilize virtual agents can help your contact center stay afloat during these tough times by ensuring you have healthy agents to handle interactions. Coupled with the technology that allows for a quick change in transaction routing, you are now certain you have enough healthy agents to handle transaction volume, even if someone has to take sick time in the middle of a shift.