How to Deliver Great Customer Service in a Crisis

A line of upset people in a crisis


Nicolette Beard of Jacada shares her advice for delivering great customer service in this crunch time for the contact centre.

In the digital age, when we discuss business continuity we tend to focus on data security and privacy breaches.

Disaster recovery takes on a whole new meaning when preparing for the possibility of a pandemic. Call centres must assess their resilience in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.


  • If employees are incapacitated or quarantined, how will your call centre operate?
  • If your workforce needs to work off-site, how will you train them?
  • If your third-party vendors are unable to pivot, how will lack of agility impact customer service?
  • This is no time for caution. It’s crunch time.

With or without a business continuity plan in place, and a full 51% of organizations worldwide do not have one, now is the time for intelligent agent assistance.

What to Do When Time Is Your Enemy

The challenge for call centres during high-stress times is getting the job done and delivering great customer service consistently.

Here are a few problems your call centre agents face and what your business can do to resolve them.

1. Problem: No time to train

In an emergency, call volume goes up. Your contact centre team enlists every warm body to take calls. You talk to your BPOs to increase your temp workforce. Your training time and on boarding are compressed.

Solution: Call centre scripting. It’s not the scripting you have known. Today’s call centre guidance is digitally intuitive and fully automated.

Once you’ve segmented your customer interactions, your least experienced agents can handle basic interactions.

2. Problem: Long wait times

When customers are anxious the last thing they want to do is stay on hold. High call volume dictates longer wait times. And, with inexperienced staff or marginally trained temps, average wait time increases. Poor CX and NPS are the results.

Solution: When your average speed to answer is not optimal, think of ways in which you can engage your callers more effectively while they wait. You might have considered scheduling callbacks, but there are more effortless and innovative solutions you can quickly launch to ease the pain for your callers.

Why not offer a visual IVR which can authenticate the caller, answer basic questions and perhaps offer personalized next-best actions, all while they wait for your next associate to become available?

Coupled with a virtual assistant, a visual IVR can also uncover new challenges your customers are running into, eventually helping you run a more agile operation during times of crisis.

3. Problem: No time for errors

During extreme events, relying on outdated static scripts only adds to the confusion. Agents also need to watch out for regulatory, process, or legal requirements. As complexity grows, so does the risk of making mistakes.

Solution: Use call centre robotic process automation to surprise and delight your customers. Who knew that RPA could deliver the human touch!

Overcome the robot-to-human design challenges in automation with UX design and conversational AI that puts people first.

4. Problem: No time to build it

When time is of the essence, you don’t have the luxury of submitting a work order to IT.

Solution: With intelligent agent engagement, your operations team can build any call centre workflow they like.

They can integrate people, processes and systems seamlessly. IT isn’t necessary for testing, versioning or deployment.

Plan for the Best. Prepare for the Worst

Cicero (in or around 65 BC) wrote to a friend, “you must hope for the best”.

In the modern era, this sentiment gained traction when an American author wrote, “Expect the best, plan for the worst and prepare to be surprised.” That about sums up the times in which we live.

Once the coronavirus medical epidemic abates, many businesses will be operating under a new normal. If this latest global crisis has taught us anything, it is that there is no more “business as usual”.

Organizations can embrace crisis as an opportunity – to be ready, to be agile and to serve at a higher level. Your customers expect nothing less.

Author: Jonty Pearce

Published On: 18th Mar 2020 - Last modified: 24th Mar 2020
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