Staying Connected in Times of Crisis: How Contact Centre Services are Keeping Human Interaction Alive

July 20, 20206min

During these challenging times, every industry has had to evolve and react to rapid changes in customer behaviour. Contact centres have been at the forefront of this shift and have been faced with unprecedented call volumes.

While the UK looks to be past the peak of the virus and measures to ease lockdown continue to be put in place, the large-scale shift to home-based shopping and contact-free tech support during the lockdown period has dramatically increased the demand on call centre services.

According to Contact Babel, in the UK alone, around 4 percent of the working population is employed by call centres. As the demand for accessible customer service increases, so will the demands for a more personalised experience.

Whilst it’s true that the future of customer experience lies largely in technological advancement and delivery of highly personalised services, the current situation only serves to highlight the true value that call centres can provide: the value of human interaction.

So, how can these communication hubs continue to deliver empathetic customer experiences whilst also meeting demand during such extraordinary times?

Adapting to the new norm: maximising home working to satisfy demand

As the world got used to social distancing measures and quarantines, organisations needed to make rapid changes to traditionally office-based business models to ensure business continuity. Many call centre operations are based on a fairly rigid co-located model, not because the technology isn’t there to support a large-scale shift to remote working, but because the operational models rely on physical locations and have not traditionally considered more flexible arrangements. However, the pandemic forced the hand of most operations.

Without the right support tools or infrastructure in place, contact centres would struggle to facilitate productive remote working. They would also need to uphold expectations that they can still deliver the same seamless customer experience that people are used to, even when the agents aren’t physically in the office. As the requirement to facilitate longer-term remote working becomes a priority, implementing the foundations for truly flexible working capabilities could mean the difference between staying operational and profitable once the nation embarks on the new-normal, or going under.

With this new trend for widespread remote working, it’s safe to say the need for artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud deployment is at an all-time high for call centres. Not only can these applications improve quality and compliance, resource management and employee performance, but they also work to improve productivity and simplify decision-making.

And in a newly remote-working world, keeping employees engaged in this way is a top priority. Using cloud-based, AI-infused WEM tools and gamification, businesses can help build camaraderie between colleagues who aren’t co-located; keeping competition alive and boosting skills with fun, game-style applications that inspire employees to get involved.

Taking advantage of the tools on offer

While the lockdown rules have been relaxed, the advice to people is to still work from home if they can. Therefore, many organisations are looking to enable and maintain remote working capabilities far beyond the current crisis. Many organisations are turning to the cloud to capitalise on the high velocity of innovation and flexibility it provides.

Increasingly, tools for automation and self-service, voice and email routing and employee collaboration solutions are becoming staples within the customer experience industry. Businesses are looking at launching secure cloud contact centres that are equipped with the fundamental capabilities to maintain engagement and interaction between customers and agents from anywhere in the world.

Employing a holistic solution that allows employees to support their customers, organisations can equip their people with a range of services, tech support, training, guidance and best practices to truly make the most of the new home-working norm.

By allowing them to continue offering the same personalised and streamlined experience their customers expect, whether their agents are in the office or not, businesses can continue fostering deeper levels of brand loyalty.

Evolving the industry

With the unprecedented levels of home working, social restrictions and travel bans, businesses, the economy and the global population are all going through a significant time of change. The lasting impact of this crisis is predicted to have effects for decades to come, and as such maintaining customer engagement is essential for companies to remain competitive and successful. As demand for connectivity increases, as a result, call centres are fast emerging as a key player for growth in the economy.

As businesses increasingly focus on making resilience their top priority, contact centres will play an essential role in meeting demands; delivering truly personalised experiences and above all, enabling them to withstand future adverse scenarios.

Nick Wingrove

Nick Wingrove

Nick Wingrove is Vice President of Solutions Consulting EMEA at Genesys.

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