The outbreak of Covid-19 has necessitated companies to work with exceptional pace in order to provide brilliant service to customers all the while taking care of employees in a humane way. Customer and employee sentiment only intensifies this challenge. The amalgamation of panic, unpredictability, and exasperation poses companies with newer risks and yet, a window of opportunity. Delivering a humane service will surely cause a humongous boost to your brand positivity and make customers choose your company again even after the crisis has passed over. On the same scale, inconsiderate and inefficient responses will push away your customers extracting a completely opposite and detrimental reaction from them.
At the times of calamities, your call center and customer support become critical to provide quick resolutions to complicated issues of customers. Companies aren’t often well prepared to act in a situation where there is a monumental shift in incoming requests. In the backdrop of Covid-19, that shift in incoming requests is paired with the abrupt necessity of asking everyone to work from home all the while operating in an environment with more risks than you can imagine. It was an unthinkable scenario, which is a stark reality now and requires instant measures to survive.
This has made companies reassess how call centers and customer support team can be strengthened, how the employees can deliver excellent customer service while working remotely and the way digital mediums can be leveraged to help with a greater influx in call center work.
The types of questions that arise are:
To effectively respond to the constantly evolving circumstances due to the outbreak, we recommend businesses take following actions swiftly to support their call centers and customer support team while ensuring that they don’t lose customers and their trust:
The call centers must analyze data and come up with new findings to map new processes across the organization and reinforce roles of employees, all done to balance the scale of supply and demand.
As Coronavirus wreaks havoc over daily life, it’s the right time to maximally use data to predict the evolving needs of consumers and employees. In addition, an adaptable approach to manage work and employees will allow call centers to meet customer expectations in a changing market.
The usual call center volume predictions should be reinforced with data analysis captured from other unpredictable times. The types of data which can be included are- customer demographics and locations, effect on consumers from corporate activities, communication timeline, behavioral changes in areas where the impact of Coronavirus is most visible, data from different sources such as employees on the ground and from different authorities. Using forecasting tools on the basis of gathered data will help the management team to align their workforce with the increase in work volumes. For most corporations out there, predicting demand will require every team to come together on a single platform and collaborate effectively.
It should keep into purview the unexpected scenarios, which can rise up and prepare for the worst. This should be discussed and reviewed on a daily basis.
When employees work from home, several factors can affect their availability including but not limited to family, household responsibilities, power and electricity disruptions. Add to it the rate at which the virus is spreading and affecting people, you will be able to analyze and predict the variance in workforce supply.
To balance supply and demand with an adaptable approach to serve customers, it is suggested that call centers set up virtual command bases. It should comprise of data crunchers and other business personnel from departments like marketing, customer support, human resources, operations, data analytics, and IT teams. These departments should come together to partner up to identify information resources they have to share their insights on how business action will impact customers and customer contact trends on daily basis. Every component of the company should analyze and come up with solutions to hold the company against any unexpected situation; to brace for impact on customers, method of contacting and industry changes, and customer sentiments. For instance, social media is good tool to gauge customer sentiments amongst many others. Based on the forecasts about contact center workforce requirement to manage best or worst case scenarios, organization can reassign roles and process handovers within the organization in order to balance demand and supply requirements. This should be reviewed and revised on daily basis.
In order to effectively bring about a work-from-home policy; companies need to understand and figure out ways to tackle technological, procedural, and employee issues.
We realize that this shift will be hard and can put your methods of working at risk; we have come up with a step-by-step process to shift your work model from physical to remote locations:
To effectively bring about the work-from-home culture, providing secured technological tools is the first step. To maintain the same level of consistency, corporations must recreate the same contact center technology environment, as home those employees have been accustomed to using in office.
Queries and requests on the networking tool will be more than before. Corporations should be ready to immediately sort out any failures or trouble in the network, which can lead to a breakdown in services.
Taking it a bit further, corporations must be ready to resolve any people or procedure-related problems. It will require you to rapidly provide virtual training sessions and teach workers on how to use newer technologies, procedures, policies, rules, and toolsets to manage in these unprecedented times. Innovate methods to collaborate efficiently and effectively need to be coined in order to ensure the same level of productivity and quality, despite the workforce being dispersed across locations.
Here are some of the ways you can best serve the customer demands during this period of crisis with the limited resources you have:
“That government is best which governs the least”; that holds true for customer service in this time of pandemic too. Before the virus struck, the customers looked for self-serving tools first before calling up a company. It was how time and cost incurred were taken care of. However, the need for AI in customer service has undeniably increased multifold as a result of this pandemic.
Currently, incoming customer requests are more than ever. Companies are witnessing new customer trends as the pandemic widens its reach. It isn’t only because of the virus; disruption in daily life has led to a major spike in queries related to payment issues, ticket cancellations, disbursing unemployment benefits, and inventory inquiries; all count towards the increase in incoming requests, with varying levels of urgency.
The silver lining is that the nature of a lot of customer queries that constitute this volume would be same which implies that you can use automation or virtual agents to resolve a lot of these queries. While AI cannot be a replacement for human agents, it can significantly relieve the pressure on contact volumes by taking care of those customer support queries that do not need human intervention, which is imperative in time like these. It is important that employees are present to resolve complicated and important customer requirements.
While a lot of AI tools are available in the market, the challenge is to implement it right. Remember, the robot is as good as the information that is fed in it. Ideally you should rope in an expert to do this for you. Ask the call center outsourcing company you work with if they can do this for you, as they are already familiar with your customer support processes and that can save your lot of precious time in this tumultuous period. At LiveSalesman, we have helped lot of our clients handle massive number of customer queries though automation.
Call center outsourcing companies have proved to be a boon for corporations around the world. Lot of businesses have engaged customer service outsourcing companies during this covid-19 lockdown to help them with their call center and customer support. Most of the countries that are home to these call center companies are in lockdown as well, however, these customer service outsourcing companies have been very agile and swift in migrating their employees to work from home. They have majorly succeeded in providing same quality service to their clients without much disruption, even in these testing times. Lot of call center outsourcing companies have the prebuilt infrastructure and business continuity procedures in place to be able to deliver uninterrupted critical business functions to their clients even during such unforeseen disasters such as this. At LiveSalesman, we offer Multilingual Disaster Backup Call Center and Customer Support Services that can be rapidly deployed with minimal effort in less than a week. This effectively brings down the pressure on our clients and enables them to focus their efforts on recovery, resumption and future course of action while we take care of their customer support and other back-office tasks in the face of Coronoavirus crisis. Customer service outsourcing companies make for a great viable option to partner with as they help the load off your employees and your customers won’t be bogged down with extended waiting times and poor service at the end of it. Companies around the world are trying their best to assuage panic in customers and deal with them in an empathetic way all the while taking care of the needs of employees. If you are unable to do that with the workforce you have, going for an outsourcing company is the right way to go.
You should have the same level of focus on employees as on the business. Do remember that the pandemic has affected your workers’ mentality too. You might be required to take measures to motivate your employees and minimize the impact of the virus on their mental state; in effect, to maintain the same level of service standards than before. This includes providing the latest updates to the customers, establish regular communication of any changes that might impact the customer, and appreciating the work done by employees.
The most crucial point to remember at this point in time is this, care for your employees as much as you care about the organization. One must realize that the mental state of employees at this point of time is necessary to be taken care of, even if done to maintain the level of customer service they provide. Provide regular updates to the workers; enable instant conveying of changes, which can impact the customer, and revel with the workers after a good day.
Heads of the companies must understand that this is a new situation for everybody and concerns must be taken care of such as a focus on the health of the family, children, and all-round wellness. They must walk the fine line of reassigning representatives while maintaining a huge influx of workload.
nice organizations have these capabilities in place, they should next focus on the following longer-term actions:
The way to respond to the current crisis is a prelude to the future trends in a call center and customer support. Given the precariousness for how long this crisis will last and our vulnerability to future pandemics, businesses shouldn’t just focus on short-term solutions but prepare to develop long term operational revamp with innovative solutions that can mitigate the impact of any such future disaster on businesses.
Publish Date: May 5, 2020 5:00 AM
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