Published: November 30, 2020 | Comments
COVID accelerated the transformation of contact centers, and industry leaders have been forced to make many quick changes - beginning with adapting to new technology, investing in new communication channels, and adjusting the workforce.
Let’s take a deeper look at those changes:
Technology and Innovation
Most contact centers were not prepared to have their team outside of the office, and we needed to rapidly upgrade technology to continue serving our customers. Digital technology allows contact centers to work remotely, but it also opens the door for automated solutions.
It is estimated that our industry has accelerated seven years of innovation because of the circumstances that COVID brought. Contact center leadership needed to analyze how to meet the growing demand by evaluating consumer interactions and automating some of those responses through better utilization of IVR capabilities and conversational AI chatbots.
Recent reports also show that phone calls are still the most preferred channel of communication for consumers, with no signs of this changing anytime soon. During COVID, many contact centers were bombarded with a huge increase in call volume. Since consumers were spending more time at home, they had the time to call and wanted social interaction, even if it was just a customer service phone call.
It is crucial now to keep investing in voice communication technology to continue improving the caller experience during these unprecedented times. One example that utilizes voice biometrics technology is “voice verification” - this is used to add an extra layer of security to phone communication, allowing agents to verify a caller in just a few seconds.
Many contact centers think they are “modernized” because they added a new channel. We need to ask whether we have enough data that proves this is the way that our consumers/prospects would like to communicate with us. We need to ask if we are offering multichannel or omnichannel solutions to our consumers; they sound similar, but there is a big difference between these two options and we must evaluate our needs, fix what is not currently working, and focus on the customer experience above all.
It is important for contact center leaders to take a step back and rethink the customer experience. We need to make sure we understand that consumers want a personal experience. They want to interact with an expert, regardless of the industry. They expect agents to quickly meet their needs in a single interaction. We must arm our teams with tools to exceed these enhanced consumer expectations.
There was little time to plan for how our workforce would adjust to working remotely and to implement social distancing for the employees that stayed in the office. The changes implemented opened new ways for the contact center to operate. The hiring process, training, coaching, and even the way that we engage with our employees has shifted. It is a time to look forward at what is possible and necessary to further our success and to improve how we interact with our consumers and each other.
We stepped up to the plate and responded with new solutions. In this reimagined, modern contact center, employees can work from home, thus granting more channels of access for teams and consumers. This approach emphasizes a commitment to a safe and healthy work environment, never sacrificing the needs of the employee for those of the consumer.
The Road Ahead
People don’t simply buy things; they buy an experience.
Accessibility has become a more crucial topic during this time of technological advancement and social uncertainty. Does our workforce have the tools necessary to maintain the desired outcome of each customer interaction? How have these needs changed in the past year?
With more people at home, there are now more opportunities to establish a positive relationship with the consumer than ever before. Students, for instance, have now been engaging with digital technology from kindergarten through college; therefore we need to analyze how this will change communication preference in the coming future.
COVID was a paradigm shift to the contact center world and the challenges it brought gave contact centers a bigger push to prepare for the future. So much has already changed in 2020, and we must stay on top of our operations to surpass consumer expectations.