Impact of Covid-19 On Contact Centers
The crisis that is COVID-19 really exposes the way companies support their customers – which is why it’s so important to deliver customer experience in an empathetic way.
From a business perspective, the pandemic has been one of the most challenging times many of us have experienced and the contact center industry is on the front-line. Braxtel has customers across the globe, comprising all sizes and market sectors.This has given us a unique inside view on the challenges faced by businesses during and exiting the pandemic.
When a crisis strikes unexpectedly customers must be heard and understood. They’re very intuitive and understand what feels like genuine concern and empathy as opposed to what feels like marketing or sales scripting.
This isn’t something new, we all know the common thread in great customer service follows a narrative of empathy which creates trust and engenders loyalty.
However, COVID-19 has accelerated this need for empathetic service, as customers are interacting with organisations under often extremely stressful circumstances – such as customers calling to renegotiate or defer mortgage payments due to enforced hardship.
A sense of “we have your back” is key, helping customer service agents build instant empathy and trust. Modern contact center technology can really impact this and where its lacking, identify it and ensure it’s improved upon.
1) Contact center as a Service (CCaaS) in order to react & create.
While CCaaS agents are assisting people with massively stressful requests, they also face their own challenges, such as quickly and effectively shifting to working from home.
The flexibility of cloud platforms and subscription-based service models certainly assisted with this transition, but we’ve also seen the growing importance of automation in helping to scale customer support while maintaining a high level of customer experience.
Braxtel has been advising customers on automated technologies such as Artificial intelligence, voicebots, chatbots and omnichannel for some time now, including integrating with business automation applications – and the strengths of these tools have delivered significant cost management and increased revenue benefits during the pandemic.
Automate simple and repetitive transactions and allow more stressful interactions to be dealt with understanding and substance.
The agility of the cloud meant many organisations were able to react quickly to cope with change. A Braxtel customer switched 110 people to work from home within 24 hours. Rather than reducing headcount due to COVID-19’s impact on the market, they began to target new opportunities that the pandemic created.
2) The reality dawns on business continuity.
Events such as COVID-19 doesn’t just require flexible cloud-based technology. Business continuity planning is now more than just a tick box in an UC/IT strategy. While many organisations had Business Continuity Plans, the majority never had a contingency where all personnel were forced to work from home.
While many companies were able to achieve this painstakingly a lengthy and costly period, those with cloud-based contact centers were able to do it within 24 hours.
Financial institutions adoption of Braxtel Cloud enabled it to move contact center staff from one site to multiple remote locations, while dealing with a 73% increase in calls and achieving no disruption to service or the quality of that service.
COVID-19 has finally broken down the work-from-home (WFH) resistance in many other organisations and Braxtel believe this will continue to be a working model for contact centers, providing staff with more flexibility and businesses with a broader talent pool, when they no longer have the limit of a physical location.
3) Onboarding and logistics.
Business leaders are rethinking their on-shore / off-shore contact center strategy after a number of organisations found their off-shore capability greatly reduced as the pandemic spread around the globe, particularly as it hit areas where WFH isn’t always possible or vaccine roll outs are considerably retarded.
A shortage of agents, combined with an unprecedented surge in customer support requests created the perfect storm for many businesses. This capability meltdown caused unparalleled local onshore challenges for organisations which saw some training other staff to be contact center agents. This requires robust and flexible CCaaS training technology to quickly get them up to speed, and a number of organisations are taking this opportunity to optimise their onboarding and training processes for the future.
4) Enhance workforce customer analytics.
We have seen a clear take up around tools such as busines analytics to deliver a much deeper understanding of the stress encountered by both customers and contact center agents alike. Businesses look to help their people adjust to working from home, especially when they are also juggling every day tasks such as homeschooling or childcare. Braxtel are commonly seeing customers splitting agent working hours into smaller chunks to provide greater flexibility, a practice which may stay in place once the pandemic is over.
Businesses are also working hard to alleviate mental health issues around isolation. Ensuring team social time and common breaks.
Such things can be easily overlooked but they remain best practice for contact centers and more importantly well being during this critical period.
5) Survivability and growth.
It’s often assumed that people will be averse to change but COVID-19 has shown that people will rise to any challenge and often its the overly conservative nature of the business that prevented positive change.
Their resilience and determination have increased innovation, creativity, collaboration and connection to new levels.
This crisis has also given people an opportunity to show just how skilled and capable they are while debunking the myths surrounding what roles could or should work remotely. This is a particular insight that businesses can take away whilst they start to plan post-lockdown restrictions. There is no better time than now to implement change as we create new norms in our work and life integration.
To learn how to effectively manage remote agents and teams in your call center and enjoy initial price support to assist in your transition, click and complete.