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What will be the short and long-term impact of COVID-19 on organizations’ operations? Does this challenging time provide an opportunity for contact center managers to implement needed changes that have been put on the back burner? Find out which three crucial components will shape contact centers moving forward.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every facet of modern life and will alter the way the world does business as it moves into recovery phase. Contact center managers have had to face inconvenient truths about their business models, continuity plans, and infrastructure. While the pandemic did not cause all the issues companies face, it accelerated the transformation that needs to occur if a company wants to meet future challenges with competence and confidence. So what will a contact center post-COVID-19 look like?
Consolidation of contact center real estate and a reduction in overall portfolio size are trends that contact center managers have been dealing with for some time. Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) solutions and agent consoles are now so advanced that a device and internet connection are all that are needed to effectively carry out most call center customer operations.
Social distancing requirements sped up the need to provide remote work capabilities, and more than a few organizations were a bit flat-footed in responding to a stark new reality. However, most contact center directors swiftly adapted their infrastructures or implemented new software to enable their employees to telework. Given the proliferation of contact center as a service (CCaaS) and software as a service (SaaS) providers, this transition was a foregone conclusion.
What was far from assured was how effective remote work would be. But after three months of lockdown measures, the results are in, and for contact center managers, they are encouraging. Business News Daily reports that “remote employees work 1.4 more days per month than their office-based counterparts, resulting in more than three additional weeks of work per year.”
Take the example of VOO, a leading Belgium telco, which successfully moved 188 agents to remote work in just one week. After implementing an agile cloud solution, absenteeism dropped from 62% to 5% and daily calls per team rose from 1300 to 1800 – a 38% increase in productivity.
Additionally, look at EDF Energy’s customer service in the UK. The company has achieved the feat of having the majority of its agents teleworking in just five days, with a special focus on well-being at work. This was made possible by the company’s switch to a cloud-based CCaaS solution over the previous 12 months. Contact centers post-coronavirus will be supported by remote work.
Investment in new tools and software triggered by the pandemic has caused contact center directors to adapt their operations and staff to learn how to be proficient in remote technology. This significant cost could herald a permanent shift toward telecommuting, according to Brookings. While initial results indicate increased productivity, contact center supervisors must also consider the impact remote work will have on agent morale. Contact center management will need to ensure they are supporting agents not just with cutting-edge technology, but emotionally as well.
Indeed, contact center agents are used to working in close proximity to colleagues, who provide support and camaraderie. Undoubtedly, some agents will experience loneliness and depression when deprived of this close-knit atmosphere. This will surely be a learning process for most companies, but ensuring the mental health of employees is essential to maintaining workflows and meeting KPIs. Successful contact center managers know the value of top-notch agents performing at their best.
Bots based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) have been drastically transforming contact centers for the last few years. Virtual assistants, like voicebots and chatbots, will continue to assume more and more responsibilities as their capabilities increase. Market research leader Gartner even goes as far as to predict that these advancements will replace almost 69% of the managerial workload by 2024.
One thing is for certain: smooth digital experiences and seamless customer journeys are now of paramount importance as consumers shun brick and mortar shops in favor of online shopping. AI-based bots enable simple enquiries to be handled without human intervention, reducing burdens on contact center agents. Increased dependency on AI will also be a catalyst for B2C organizations to invest in creating or re-designing their applications, as they serve as a great hub and facilitator for self-service and automation.
The AI-supported drive for automation will reshape all aspects of customer care, which will alter the way contact center directors organize their operations. Certainly this will lead to increased convenience, greater accessibility, and faster resolution of operations. Moreover, agents will be able to focus on more complex tasks. Forrester estimates that intelligent automation (IA) technologies will release $134 billion in labor value by 2022.
Though it is impossible to predict what the future will hold, it is clear that the pandemic has caused a complete reappraisal of how contact centers are managed. Further developing remote work capabilities, investing in agents’ mental health, and implementing AI solutions will continue to be at the forefront of strategic aims long after the pandemic subsides.
Contact center managers will turn to trusted leaders in flexible contact center cloud solutions, like Odigo, who have a proven track record of achieving these goals. Able to quickly design tailor-made solutions that fit specific needs, Odigo provides the experience and vision essential for these turbulent times.
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2022 research commissioned by Odigo sees overwhelming support for the claim that AI investments improve the customer experience. The vast majority of respondents also stress that AI is a long-term investment and takes time to properly integrate and deliver maximum ROI.
WhatsApp Business has emerged as a method of brand communication that has a high open rate compared to email, works more rapidly, and targets multiple points of the customer journey. It delivers interactive options for customers that add value and targets them on a familiar channel, which is why WhatsApp is an indispensable addition to contact center solutions.
Outbound calls can be a great way for organizations to reach out and build loyalty or anticipate and provide for potential customer needs. However, some outdated practices have created negative associations for customers. As a result, guidance and outbound call regulations have been developed both for the purpose of protection and to steer contact center best practices. What do organizations need to consider when using outbound calls to deliver additional value to customers, and how does geographical location affect that?