How Comcast Mobilized Thousands of Call Center Agents to Work From Home: A Q&A with Lisa Blackshear
We are in an unprecedented time when our customers need our critical services more than ever. Just like many other businesses around the world, when COVID-19 hit, we had to navigate the uncharted territory of transitioning most of our employees to work from home. In a matter of just a few short weeks, a large, cross-functional team mobilized more than 95% of Comcast’s customer service employees to be able to work from home. Lisa Blackshear, Senior Vice President, CX Strategy & Operations, was one of those people who worked tirelessly behind the scenes so that our call center and digital care agents could continue to support our customers from the safety of their homes during these challenging times.
Lisa shared her experience during this incredible transition.
Q. You have been leading national contact center operations for many years, did you ever think nearly all of Comcast’s agents would need to work from home?
I have been in the business long enough to know that we have to be prepared for anything and everything. However, I will admit that I certainly never thought I would be dealing with a global pandemic. We have built a tremendously talented and flexible customer service organization that never ceases to amaze me with how they pull together to do what’s right for our customers and for each other.
The teamwork has been phenomenal. In a matter of just a few weeks, we were able to accomplish what normally would have taken months. Everyone banded together around the common goal of prioritizing the safety of our employees so that they could best serve our customers during these extraordinary circumstances.
Q. Walk us through what it took to get more than 95% of customer service representatives working from home.
Our goal as we started this initiative was to have all employees who were able to work from home and wanted to, to be able to do so. There was not a one size fits all approach, and collaboration between hundreds of teammates across many departments was paramount.
It’s not as simple as just telling people that they can start working from home – there are a lot of details and moving parts that need to be taken into consideration, such as acquiring all of the right equipment – like laptops, chargers, headsets and adapters, docking stations, and cables – and properly imaging all of the computers so they had the right tools, software and platforms. Throughout the whole process, security was top of mind and implemented every step of the way. Then we also had to train our agents on the new work from home experience and how to access the tools they need to continue to help our customers.
As laptops were available, our technology team started to build the necessary software onto each one. On a normal week, one team would build about 100 laptops, but in this instance, that team built 1,200 laptops in just eight days. When we were at the peak of getting our teammates to work from home, more than 1,000 people were transitioning every day.
All of this amazing teamwork enabled Lorie, a call center agent in Spokane, WA to assist a single mother, who recently came across some additional hardships, to set up the right internet package so that her family could stay connected. And it allowed Diane, a call center agent in Tucson, AZ to educate an elderly man who is on disability about Comcast’s Internet Essentials program, the nation’s largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption program for low-income Americans. There are hundreds of stories like these from our agents who are working from home to help our customers every day, and they are the stories that help to keep all of us going.
Q. What has been the biggest lesson learned so far?
While some teams were accustomed to working from home, many of our care representatives have never done their job virtually. It was extremely important that everyone felt supported in their home environment compared to the collaborative nature of a call center.
We have found that open communication, especially through video, is really helpful. Our most senior leaders have sent messages to all of our employees, and we are communicating frequently with our teammates to provide them with the latest news and updates, educate them about working from home safely and securely, and importantly, celebrating their achievements.
We understand the unique complexities of working from home and are incredibly grateful to our employees for how hard they are working to ensure our customers continue to have access to the internet and other services they need to stay connected.
I am so proud to be working for this amazing company that is helping to connect millions of Americans to their work, school, friends and family, entertainment, and news and information. Thank you to our employees everywhere. Time and time again, our teammates have demonstrated how deeply they care about our customers and about one another, and that is more important now than ever before.