The COVID-19 pandemic has caused widespread disturbances across almost all industries, with contact centers being at the forefront of change. The coronavirus is bringing a sense of panic, and typical contingency plans for a situation like this are not enough to battle this current crisis. Contact centers experienced an overload of customer interactions never seen before, and that brought a lot of attention to the real power of customer service and satisfaction.
From banks to insurances, industries across the globe are upgrading their contact center workflows and figuring out new and improved ways to sales and customer support. From enterprises to small and medium-sized businesses, the impact of how companies are serving their customers now cannot be ignored.
Impact on Contact Centers
The World Health Organization’s most definite recommendation is social distancing and frequent hand washing; however, contact center agents work in close proximity to one another, often sharing phones, cubicles, computers, desks, and other equipment, making agents susceptible to contracting diseases.
The challenge of contact centers today is to provide the same or better customer experience as before the pandemic but with fewer working agents. From February to April of this year, IBM saw a 40% increase in traffic to Watson Assistant. In April, Google launched the Rapid Response Virtual Agent and lowered the price of its service in response to the high client demand.
Contact centers have always been in the front lines of workplace automation, and now more companies are willing to experiment with new technology that will ease the workflow and improve KPIs. With advanced AI, high performing visual engagement tools, and improved chatbots being implemented across many leading contact centers, there has never been a better time in the history of technology for innovation, particularly in the field of customer engagement. These systems will likely stick around for a long time, providing their value through their affordability and ease of use.
Today, executives and decision-makers are always asking themselves questions about how to handle the impact of current events on contact centers while keeping their workforce safe. They may discuss:
- How can I reduce average handling time and manage customer frustration?
- What can be done using machines instead of agents? How to automate?
- How should I enhance my digital channels?
- How can I provide better self-service?
- How can I offer the same level of customer support when agents work from home?
- How can I maintain trust from my customer in these critical times?
- What can I solve customer problems on the first call?
These are just some questions leaders are asking themselves, and the answer to these questions isn’t always simple. Still, measures can be done to minimize the negative impact on your KPIs and customer experience.
To cope with the current crisis, we recommend contact centers to address four critical areas:
Improve the Efficiency of Your Agents With Visual Engagement Technology – two crucial metrics for contact centers are first call resolution and average handling time. With a visual engagement solution that can seamlessly integrate with your current workflow, agents can guide customers quickly to a solution on the first call, reducing both average handling time and providing a resolution on the first call.
Automate Your Services: Virtual Agents – Enhance your visual agents’ capabilities to support the current crisis and implement new technology that can grow your BAU volume.
Review Your Contact Center Management System and Workflow – The most critical needs should be addressed first, and change should be implemented as a priority. Finding flaws and downsides to your workflow will help you to find cost-effective solutions to your contact center.
The Future of Contact Centers
The pandemic has painted a vivid picture of how contact centers will operate in the future. Automation of workflow is on the rise, and customer engagement technology seems to improve by the hour. Enterprises are always on the lookout for new and improved ways to serve and sell to their customers, and it looks like it’s going to be a neverending process.