When the world changes, we can either try to deny it, or we can embrace it. The impact of COVID-19 will no doubt be far-reaching, bringing change to all aspects of society. But in the world of contact centres, that change has already taken place.
Let’s face facts, COVID-19 has forced unprecedented change upon businesses the world over. That change has not only disrupted the working day as we know it for many, but it is also likely to have lasting implications for all areas of an organization. And the contact centre is no exception to this.
Change Has Already Happened, It’s Time to Embrace It
In fact, the customer contact has already changed beyond all recognition, with 89% of UK contact centre leaders stating that the COVID-19 crisis has changed the contact centre industry forever.
Firstly, customers have been forced to use the internet for everything – and it turns out, they like it. Customer experience (CX) is no longer just about answering emails and calls, unless you’re catering to a specific demographic. It’s all about providing a dependable and consistently great customer experience.
Secondly, companies that used to believe that working from home was a euphemism for “bunking off” or an opportunity for employees to slack without supervision have since embraced home-working – mostly because there wasn’t really an alternative.
During the pandemic, 77% of contact centres had 50% or more of their employees working from home and found that it works. It turns out that if you trust your people, they have a habit of being trustworthy.
Whilst efforts are being made to enable workers to return to offices, with precautionary measures such as hand sanitizer and physically distanced workstations being introduced, the reality is that we won’t all be returning to the office. Certainly, we won’t all be returning to the contact centre floor – we’re not all going to fit any more.
Contact centre buildings, with high desk occupancy and more people per square foot than general-purpose office space, can’t continue under new guidelines.
Enabling the Contact Centre of the Future
So what will the contact centre of the future look like? To establish an effective post-COVID contact centre, you will need to ensure it lies at the heart of your company’s digital transformation strategy and enable the following:
- All agents and supervisors can be home-based and connected over the internet
- There is secure connectivity for apps – GDPR isn’t going away just because we work from home
- The remote contact centre remains integrated with office systems
- Increased use of self-service and automation, whilst still using people where they make the most difference (transactional interactions vs out-of-process interactions like complaints)
- Increased use of digital media for handling voice calls, emails, and webchats
With this in mind, it’s important to turn attention to your current contact centre platform and ask yourself if it can do what is required to support the contact centre of the future. A contact centre platform moving forward will need to:
- Be agile – try out new capabilities, review and learn
- Make self-service easy to do – integrate chatbots and IVR and webchat into your website
- Be effective – get the right interaction to the right agent at the right time
- Be efficient – reduce the number of people needed to provide great customer service
- Be cloud based – goes without saying: easy on, easy off, low commitment
- … and be cost-effective!
As the world around us – and the world of work as we know it – continues to adapt to the ongoing unprecedented events of 2020, now is the time to embrace change and steal a competitive advantage.
Begin by assessing your current platform and consider what you will need moving forward to enable the contact centre of the future for your organization.
We’ve been working with contact centres for over 20 years, and we think we may be able to help you embrace change. Keen to find out more? Check out Callmedia CX Now and get in touch with us today.