Brendan Dykes of Genesys discusses how an organization can continue to develop its customer experience strategy in the current difficult climate.
We’re in uncharted waters on many levels of our lives: a world that will never be the same and a time of paradigm shifts.
Yet in many ways, little has changed for the ways in which contact centres deliver customer experience. It might be tough to see what’s so “new” about the “new normal”; this lockdown-triggered environment has re-emphasized and anchored many key facts we already knew.
For many customers, the COVID-19 pandemic has radically changed their world view. And this has had various effects for the businesses that serve them.
For some businesses it’s more of the same — the rapid change to eCommerce and online engagement has suited them.
Some have even struggled with the sheer volume of business they suddenly received (some would say that’s a nice problem to have).
For others, though, it has been a disaster, particularly those with limited online presence, products in low-demand markets and those that have historically under-invested in a digital transformation.
Many of these businesses are already struggling — or will struggle to survive soon.
Survival of the Fittest
Business continuity involves the planning, preparing and practising for business disasters. And it’s been a part of running a contact centre operation for as long as I can remember.
Many of the issues that businesses with contact centres faced early in the lockdown were potentially avoidable — even if this disaster was on an unprecedented scale.
Fortunately, the power of cloud computing has enabled many businesses to get back on track quickly and be available for their customers, consumers, citizens or patients.
The ability to get the resiliency, flexibility and distributed deployment that a cloud platform offers helped many organizations expand or even spin up contact centre operations to keep going during times of massive demand.
We ended up deploying Genesys Cloud three weeks early due to the COVID-19 impact. All three of our contact centres are working remotely from home now, and we are maintaining production levels. Had we not been working on Genesys Cloud, this could have been disastrous!
eFinancial, a Genesys Cloud customer
Identify Ways to Thrive
Now is the time to identify what’s needed not only to survive but to thrive — and ensure that you’ll be prepared for any future events or disasters. For those businesses that have successfully navigated through the immediate effects of the pandemic, now is the time to:
- Assess what did and didn’t work in delivering customer engagement during the lockdown
- Adjust your people, processes and technology to ensure you have a plan for business continuity
- Accelerate the implementation of cloud-based digital customer engagement and update your voice services
According to Bain and Company, a simple, digital approach to customer engagement produces a triple play of results. You’ll see 20% lower customer attrition as well as a 50% reduction in process complexity and costs.
“Simple and digital products, services and customer experiences, delivered at lower cost, have become essential for continued growth — and in some industries, essential for survival,” notes the study.
While this means you should automate your processes, it doesn’t mean abandon them. Customers love to self-serve — until they can’t complete the interaction, or the matter is complex or personal. Then they want a human to step in.
The ATM is a classic example of simple automation for banking. However, if I find $500 missing from my account, I want to speak to a human who can empathize, understand the complexity of the situation and, hopefully, fix it.
Reinvent the Office
The expectations of employees certainly have changed. The COVID-19 Cross Sector Impact report from GlobalData found that nearly a quarter of those surveyed who had worked in offices before the lockdown now want to work remotely — and 46% of respondents want a mix of office and at-home work situations.
Considering that the contact centre is a microcosm of the working office world, 70% of agents don’t want to be in an office all the time. Why didn’t they or couldn’t they do this before? Were the reasons cultural, procedural or technological?
I know of at least one contact centre that is actively recruiting people to work from home. The move will save the company office space, provide greater flexibility and give them access to a pool of talent who wouldn’t naturally be available to work in a contact centre.
To enable this, though, staff need to feel that they’re still a part of a team. And you want to ensure that they can be assisted during contacts and supported afterward.
Additionally, all of the needs for forecasting and planning — incentivization through gamification, quality and performance management, and training and development — are still needed. These don’t depend on where someone sits to work.
Plan for the Worst, But Hope for the Best
This mantra still holds true, but perhaps we had lost sight of it or under-invested in it over the years.
Ultimately, the cloud contact centre has a been a reality for some time. Being able to work remotely is a reality that some organizations have grasped or at least reached out toward.
The processes to deliver exceptional customer experiences remain possible — even with people working in different physical locations.