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What will be the short and long-term impact of COVID-19 on organisations’ operations? Does this challenging time provide an opportunity for contact centre managers to implement needed changes that have been put on the back burner? Find out which three crucial components will shape contact centres 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 centre 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 centre post-COVID-19 look like?
Consolidation of contact centre real estate and a reduction in overall portfolio size are trends that contact centre managers have been dealing with for some time. Contact Centre 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 centre customer operations.
Social distancing requirements sped up the need to provide remote work capabilities, and more than a few organisations were a bit flat-footed in responding to a stark new reality. However, most contact centre directors swiftly adapted their infrastructure or implemented new software to enable their employees to work from home. Given the proliferation of contact centre 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 centre 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. Contact centres post-coronavirus will be supported by remote work.
Additionally, look at EDF Energy’s customer service in the UK. The company has achieved the feat of having the majority of its agents homeworking 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 centres post-coronavirus will be supported by remote work.
Investment in new tools and software triggered by the pandemic has caused contact centre 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 centre supervisors must also consider the impact remote work will have on agent morale. Contact centre management will need to ensure they are supporting agents not just with cutting-edge technology, but emotionally as well.
Indeed, contact centre 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 centre managers know the value of top-notch agents performing at their best.
Bots based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) have been drastically transforming contact centres 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 favour of online shopping. AI-based bots enable simple enquiries to be handled without human intervention, reducing burdens on contact centre agents. Increased dependency on AI will also be a catalyst for B2C organisations 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 centre directors organise 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 centres 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 centre managers will turn to trusted leaders in flexible contact centre 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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