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Article : What Lessons Did Call Center Industry Learn from the COVID-19 Crisis?

#contactcenterworld, @fusionbpo

Author: Ariful Anam, Manager, Sales and Marketing, Fusion BPO Services

The COVID-19 pandemic has become a worldwide crisis affecting people and businesses alike. Nothing ever prepared us for such a crisis. To say that the epidemic has caught various industries, including the call center industry, unprepared is an understatement.

With the virus taking its toll worldwide and CDC continuing to stress on social distancing and issuing strict regulations about how many people can be present in a single gathering, the call center industry took a big hit. Industry stalwarts started taking immediate action and transitioned a large number of its workforce to a home-based environment to support the business continuity plan of their clients in the best possible way.

While contact centers adapted to the transition pretty quickly, they have faced quite a few challenges in the process. And challenges are just lessons in disguise. If contact centres can learn from these challenges, they can achieve better resilience against any future crisis.


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So, what are the lessons learned so far by contact centers from this global pandemic attack? Here we share a few lessons we have learned from the crisis.

Lesson 1. Setting up the infrastructure following social distancing norm

Most contact centers have cramped working floors with shared equipment. Desk-sharing strategy or hot-seating is also common in call centers where agents can pick any unoccupied system in the workstation in their shift. Such shared and overcrowded workspace is a big no today. Therefore, contact centers were forced to move over fifty percent of their employees to a work-at-home environment. Previously agents chose to work from home, but today, it has become a requirement.

So, it is the responsibility of the call center to arrange the work-at-home setup needed for agents to operate from home. Many agents do not have computers, USB headsets, and other necessary tools needed for customer service. Those who have computers don’t know how to run the software, troubleshoot basic internet problems by themselves. So, equipping every home-based agent with the required tools takes a systematic approach and frequent demonstrating sessions from the IT team.

Lesson 2. Shift allocation across locations

While having remote agents on the payroll allows you to hire the best talents from anywhere in the globe without having to accommodate them in your brick and mortar setup, the process is not devoid of challenges. A common challenge faced by call centers as they have to switch their on-premise operation to home-based setup suddenly is remote employee scheduling.

Agents need to follow their shift timing strictly to avoid overlapping and to provide 24/7 assistance as per the promise. To handle a large number of remote employees, contact centers are relying on workforce management software, time, and attendance systems greatly. It is helping them schedule thousands of agents in one go without chances of overlapping. However, stricter HR policies had to be implemented to make sure agents adhere to their allotted shift timings.

Lesson 3. Flexibility and scalability are the keys

Another important continuity strategy the COVID-19 has taught call centers is the ability to flexibly and quickly change the location of operation to handle fast-moving emergencies.

Call centers must be flexible enough to close one or more office locations and reroute customer inquiries to alternative locations or reallocating agents across multiple active locations or businesses to handle the sudden surge in customer inquiries better. If you need to reallocate your customer service agents to a different sector, you must work hon prepping them in advance.

Lesson 4. Keeping empathy level high during customer service

Though showing empathy has always been the priority for customer service, at present, it is even more important because everyone is affected by COVID-19 in some way.

For instance, maybe a customer is calling to enquire about the delayed delivery of emergency medicine, or another is calling to stop auto deduction of payments from his account because his employer hasn’t been able to pay him due to business loss. Therefore, it is expected from CX professionals to listen, think, and empathize so that customers feel that the company genuinely cares for them.

Lesson 5. Remember to take care of employee

Employees are the biggest strength of any organization. Taking care of the company’s most valuable asset during a crisis like this is very crucial. If remote employees of your call center are not treated well, they won’t perform or act responsibly.

While for many, work-at-home gives a desirable work-life balance, some call center employees remain unhappy because their employers expect them to be available all the time as they are working from home. Such expectations only degrade performance. You have to ensure employees don’t burn out due to the excessive workload and compulsory overtime.

Offering fringe benefits to best performers, appreciating good works in front of the team over Skype or Zoom video conference will make them feel important and motivated as well.

To make the home-based agents feel a part of the team, the company can introduce some fun employee engagement activities. Introducing incentive programs to foster the spirit of healthy competition among the team while pursuing a goal is also a good idea.

Conclusion

Every crisis brings along new challenges and opportunities with it. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the call center industry to learn many new lessons, adopt a new working pattern, and excel despite the challenges to become an essential part of their clients’ business continuity plan.

The lessons learned from this crisis will surely help the call center industry be better prepared for any new crisis in the future. Sure, each crisis will have its challenges. But with quick learning, adaptability, and flexibility, call centers will be able to respond better to the crisis.

#contactcenterworld, @fusionbpo


About Fusion BPO Services:
Company LogoFounded in 2003, Fusion BPO Services is a global outsourcing services provider with dual headquarters in Draper, Utah in the US and Kolkata, India. Its end to end outsourcing solutions include the complete portfolio of integrated contact center services, accounts receivable management, and custom IT solutions. To meet client’s evolving strategic sourcing needs, Fusion BPO Services offers capabilities across eight countries – USA, Canada, UK, India, Philippines, El Salvador, Jamaica, and Albania.
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Today's Tip of the Day - Every Contact Counts

Read today's tip or listen to it on podcast.

Published: Monday, June 1, 2020

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2021 Buyers Guide Inbound Call Handling Services

 
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2Ring

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Agents gain all the features that they need to serve customers faster - repetitive tasks are automated, alerts about important call center events pop-up on top of all the appli...
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Calls are received by the right person or department. The right corresponding information is shown to the agent which makes that appointments are handled quicker and more secure.

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Call Center Studio is the world’s first call center built on Google and is one of the most secure and stable systems with some of the industry’s best reporting. It is one of the most full-featured enterprise grade systems (with the most calling features, one of the best call distribution, outbound dialing features and integrations—including IVR, AI Speech Recognition, blended inbound/outbound calling and includes Google’s new Dialogflow and Speech API. Call Center Studio is the absolute easiest to use (with a 10 minute setup), and is the price performance leader with lower equipment cost and less setup time.

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We’re a specialist Contact Centre business and market leaders helping socially focused organisations deliver quality support to their clients and service users. We do this by providing 24/7 helplines, software solutions and consultancy services.

Since launching in 2006, we’ve operated at the sharp end of customer service, supporting some of society’s most vulnerable people. We’ve pioneered in our space to become a specialist in helplines, whilst using the most advanced communication and database technologies available.

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Front office is your Company’s first line of customer interaction and serves as the mirror of your business. Focus on your core business and let our competent staff handle your various front office needs such as:

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By catering valuable, usable and enjoyable customer service, businesses can increase their CSAT Score and Customer Retention Rate. We help organizations to provide quality customer service through varied channels like email, phone and live chat. Ensuring quality after-sales support is our USP and we rely on proven approaches to ensure quality customer service.

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SPEED
The SPEED solution solves for service level issues while cost optimizing the environment with automation.

Provides an enhanced way to speed up & optimize invoking temporary agent skills configuration changes into the contact center environment.

Speed allows you to schedule both future changes & temporary changes that auto-revert back to the original state when scheduled time expires.

Speed features:

*Automated / Scheduled Temporary Agent Skills Configuration Management
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VADS Inbound Contact Center
VADS Inbound Contact Center Services provide live operators who answer incoming calls as you would yourself. A team of professional script writers is available to help you script a greeting and experience programmers will set up a time and money saving program. Our unique approach to call center services is client-focused, and takes each project’s unique needs into account to our client’s satisfaction. We offer solution as part of our service to keep you in touch with your client and drive sales.

- Customer Service
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Technosys IT Management Bpo, the business process Outsourcing, gives end-to-end transformative administrations for its customers over the globe. The organization's coordinated IT and BPO arrangements approach empowers it to open business esteem crosswise over ventures and administration lines, and address business challenges for its customers. Using inventive business perfection structures, progressing profitability changes, process reengineering, mechanization, and front line innovation stages, Technosys IT Management empowers its customers to accomplish their cost diminishment goals, enhance process efficiencies, upgrade viability, and convey unrivaled client encounter

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Tru29 Outsource Solutions Inc.

Front Office Solutions
Any part of your business operations that requires constant end-customer facing task is an essential part of your business.

This task requires a good customer experience results for every customer interaction. Our extensive experience in handling Front Office related tasks can help you focus on your core business while being cost-efficient at the same time.
 

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