Expert roundup: should contact centre agents get personal Wi-Fi access?

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ZaiLab's Mushfiq Hopkins asks the experts – and from matters of efficiency to legal compliance, the answer depends.

Staff retention is always a pertinent topic in the world of the contact centre. With our shocking rate of attrition, we need to keep a constant lookout for balanced ways to keep our staff happy and fulfilled.

In any discussion such as this, it’s important to say again and again that a successful staff success programme must have a strategic underpinning that goes beyond mere ‘perks’. The individuals who make up your team need to feel authentically valued, respected and empowered.

Without a solid foundation, in other words, the best perks in the world become nothing more than polish on a– you get the idea.

Now let’s talk perks. Where does Wi-Fi fit into all of this? Is it a good idea to give your agents access to your data fountain?

I posed the question to my learned colleagues on LinkedIn. Here’s what they had to say. [Some answers have been edited. –Ed]


Natalie Hurling (South Africa)

National business development manager, People Solutions

‘We’re supposed to be moving forward by incorporating technology, but on the other hand are we mature enough to handle the accountability that comes with it, given the target market? I would use it as an incentive or employee benefit.’


Christian Papst (South Africa)

IT entrepreneur

‘There really is no simple yes-or-no answer to this as every environment is different. It depends on the calibre of staff and really how busy the customer service centre is.

‘This of course is industry dependent. Some call centres, for example, do not allow mobile phones at all as these interfere with the calls made. Best of both worlds – have the chill out area kitted out with Wi-Fi so when agents go on break they can browse to their hearts’ content.’


Rashieda Panday (South Africa)

Project coordinator, HeePD

‘I think free Wi-Fi is cool but you could cap users to a gigabyte-per-day to limit usage, and then different levels of staff have bigger allowances. If more is needed there could be Internet cafe stations in social areas at work.’


Johan March (South Africa)

Senior channel manager, MWEB

‘My staff has access to free Wi-Fi, and it has its pros and cons. If you have call centre staff performing complex transactions, that increases access. If your staff perform standard high-volume transactions that are highly dependent on traditional KPAs, like AHT and occupancy, then do limit Wi-Fi during production hours.’


David Filwood (Canada)

Principal consultant and owner, TeleSoft Systems

‘Some employers allow their customer service representatives (CSRs) to use personal cellphones/tablets/wireless devices on the contact centre production floor. On the other hand, 48% of data breaches/identity theft is caused by insiders, putting CSRs on the front line for security risk management.

‘To enhance security risk management, and to control fraud and security breaches, a “clean desk” policy – banning all use of personal wireless devices on the production floor – is mandatory in contact centres involved with PCI DSS, HIPAA, or FINRA, ISO, COPC and SAS.’


Sharon Macdonald (South Africa)

Contact centre operations manager, Brooks & Luyt Inc

‘In a performance-driven environment like the one I work in, I would not make this available to the staff as this will influence and impact the performance. Typical example is the migration from a normal telephonic system to an auto-dialler environment, because the human nature, if not managed and controlled or rather monitored, will satisfy its own personal wants. The needs of the workplace will become secondary.

‘100% focus is needed as mistakes can not only be costly, but we also have to think of the reputational risks we are opening ourselves to. Wi-Fi can be controlled – in the canteen during breaks, before shifts and after shifts – but I would rather be careful. At the end of the day, we manage a business as if it’s our own.’


My view

We need to strike a balance between providing for this ever-growing perk and managing the associated risks. Wi-Fi should be made available to all staff when and where it has no chance of compromising data security. Think pause areas, training rooms, and the like – anywhere it could contribute to staff wellbeing.

That said, I would not allow any devices into the active contact centre environment. There is no way for a distracted agent to have a rewarding conversation with your customers.

Stay focused on doing the right things, not the nice things.