COVID-19 & The Future Of Contact Centres
Every business is unique, and so will their challenges be; however there are still three universal factors all businesses must consider before tackling these questions: people, processes and technology.
It’s a fair assumption that the contact centre workforce is going to be divided when it comes to returning to the office. While working from home can be beneficial for many, it is also true that many others can also struggle with it; and those that have thrived are going to be less open to returning to the office.
The practical solution is implementing a more flexible hybrid work model while also making sure to keep the unique work culture of a contact centre in place as much as possible which will be difficult in this less centralised environment. There are certain benefits to this new approach; as businesses start reopening a spike of calls is expected to happen. Having some flexibility could be key in handling this spike through mobilising work from home teams to support the main office team - ensuring inquiries are dealt with in a timely manner without sacrificing customer experience.
The current climate has forced the hands of many contact centres to overcome the hurdles often associated with remote working, and this will likely lead to even more flexibility in the future. However contact centres must have the right processes and technology in order to make that a reality.
If hybrid models are becoming the standard, then it is critical that the processes, the things that keep everything ticking, are ready to bridge the gap between the two models.
Some processes within a company may have been implemented to satisfy a short term concern; these all must be re-evaluated with a consideration for long term goals and existence of remote workers. This goes for every form of process within the company, from management style to training delivery.
Companies have the technology in place to gather insight into the workings of employees. Call monitoring, speech analytics, customer sentiment tracking, all of it can be used to provide a central managing hub within a company. Having this hub means that regardless of where an employee is working they will still have access to all the information they need to handle customers shifting behaviour post-pandemic.
It is important to keep work culture within a hybrid model as intact as possible – ensuring that everyone is aligned with the company’s goals and can still engage with the workforce. Video communication is the simplest solution, connecting employees through the same means used by customers. Current software is accessible enough that any employee regardless of generation will be able to connect with their colleagues personally even with social distancing in place.
Remote working is not a new concept, that said the pandemic has forced many businesses to rush together remote working systems into place. If remote working will be an assumed standard practice, contact centres must make these decisions in a less hasty manner and establish proper systems and security for them.
Having the right tools to manage employees is essential, and even more so if half of your workforce choose to work remotely. Going forward all businesses must have ways to manage remote teams, identify any weaknesses in the system, and pinpoint where resources and personnel need to be allocated.
Contact centres must review their technology landscape to see what can be optimised and how. If something can be automated to ease the burden of the workforce, then it should be, this will make it easier for the customers to self-serve and free up employees for more difficult inquiries. Chatbots are a good example of this automation, they can act as the first line of response, handling common inquiries through pre-programmed responses. Advanced enough chatbots can also use machine-learning to handle more complex requests.
Flexibility is Key
In a post Covid-19 the future around all things is uncertain, including contact centres; however we are beginning to see the current path forward mandates change. Yes virtual contact centres may have their day however there is still space in the world for brick and mortar locations. But in order to keep that space centres must be aware that the future may bring something equally more impactful than Covid-19 and that hybridising and building as much flexibility into your company model will be critical for survival.
This blog was posted by: Mark Conway