Lately, there’s been a lot of talk that the coronavirus killed the contact center. It didn’t. Contact centers will always be a vital part of healthy businesses and essential to countless government agencies. That said, COVID did shake up the industry quite a bit. Here’s what we can expect from contact centers going forward.
Not having physical locations to visit due to COVID, customers flooded contact centers during the pandemic. This presented serious challenges since most were at reduced capacity to begin with and, not surprisingly, sent handle times skyrocketing.
Under ordinary circumstances, both situations would have normalized by now as organizations enhanced their contact centers and customers returned to their normal routines. However, that’s not what happened. The coronavirus literally changed normal consumer behavior. People were forced to adapt to the contactless experience, and it’s now engrained. Going forward, organizations will need to increase the level of support their contact centers offer.
The preference for a contactless experience isn’t the only change in consumer behavior caused by COVID-19. New channel preferences emerged as well. Bogged down by long waits, customers shuffled themselves into alternate channels trying to get help faster. As a result, even the most change-resistant groups are comfortable with technology like self-help tools and AI. They’ve also learned how to navigate new channels, such as support via instant message, text, and social media. Now that the initial entry barriers have been broken and comfort established, customer demand for alternate tools and channels is skyrocketing.
Hundreds of employees can be on a call center floor at once under a traditional model. Most were designed expressly this way—to host lots of agents in the most efficient way possible. This is no longer reasonable in the COVID era.
Organizations scrambled to create work-from-home options as the pandemic created global shutdowns, but now that they’ve seen it’s possible to address things like data security and quality despite locale, they’re far more open to the idea of leveraging work-from-home models going forward. While some are adopting a 100 percent remote model, others partially leverage the strategy to clear space on their contact center floors to allow for social distancing.
Naturally, the work from home model can’t be accomplished without the right technology. Organizations are letting go of their legacy software in favor of cloud-based applications and layering in security. Forward-thinking organizations are leveraging tech to improve customer satisfaction, reduce wait times, and streamline workflows as well. The popularity surge in interactive voice response (IVR) is a prime example of this.
Organizations have noticed a major shift in the concerns they face with their employees. Historically, contact centers have grappled with employee issues like absenteeism. At the peak of coronavirus, communications were also an issue. However, leaders today have two new issues taking center stage, and most expect them to carry through for at least another year—employee mental health concerns and engagement issues.
Few know this about BPO call centers operated by DATAMARK, but these are things we’ve always taken to heart. We build up our agents by investing in them with training and education, giving them opportunities to grow. We also focus heavily on supporting our communities and allow our teams to get involved in volunteering. Not only are these examples the responsible thing to do, but they help keep employees positive, motivated, and engaged as well.
Even among organizations that had continuity plans going into the pandemic, a great many didn’t address everything that coronavirus derailed, or they weren’t tested in advance. Not surprisingly, more than 80 percent said they planned to build stronger continuity plans in the coming year during a recent poll of hundreds of organizations. One of the benefits of call center outsourcing is that continuity planning can be built into all your outsourced business processes, freeing your organization to focus on core areas of business with total peace of mind.
With comprehensive plans that address what matters most to your organization, from tech through security, channels, volume, and people, DATAMARK can help your organization thrive in the COVID-19 era and beyond. Explore our contact center solutions online or contact us to discuss your needs.