Post-pandemic – How will contact center culture change?

Post-pandemic outlook – how will contact center culture change?Martin Taylor is Deputy Managing Director of Content Guru

One of the most common pieces of advice you hear people give is “never look back”, but in the contact center industry, far from being something to be avoided, looking back can often give us a clear indicator of what lies ahead. After all, what is past – as Shakespeare wrote over 400 years ago – is prologue.

The coronavirus crisis has marked a turning point for the contact center and will undoubtedly be seen as a turning point for the industry in the years to come. When the pandemic hit, contact centers already using cloud technologies were able to ensure that remote working models could be adopted quickly and successfully, allowing agents to work safely and compliantly from home. . Those relying on outdated on-premises technology initially found themselves unable to maintain service levels for customers.

The technology that made working from home possible is now essential to ensuring that contact center agents can perform their jobs efficiently, whether working remotely or onsite. These changes have also disrupted the traditional contact center culture.

Contact centers were never seen as advertisements for remote work. Rather, they were centers of what some might call “presenteeism,” with large numbers of people sitting in front of computer screens at their desks in large offices. The pandemic has forced many organizations to trust their employees more and give them more flexibility and agility.

As many companies plan to return to the office, they will have to adapt to a significant increase in hybrid working for contact center employees.

Flexible working is the new normal

If you want to see where things are going, start by going back to a time when “call center” was the dominant term to describe customer interactions – a time when most work was done over the phone. Over time, it was replaced by the “contact center” with the introduction of channels beyond telephony – email, instant messaging, social media, etc. – from which customers can choose.

In the future, as we move towards a more virtual contact center environment with agents dispersed across remote locations, would it be so surprising that the word “center” starts to be seen as redundant?

Consider what will happen when companies assimilate the benefits of remote work they have seen during the pandemic. Benefits that have resulted in a happier, healthier workforce. This trend will not be reversed. Managers will use what they have learned during the pandemic to provide more flexible working arrangements for agents in the future.

What did they learn? This work from home eliminated travel time for their employees, customer interactions could happen faster, and teams could be more agile than ever compared to the traditional call center model.

They discovered that it was possible to modify the rotation structures more easily than they had imagined. They could keep contact centers efficiently staffed during peak demand times while giving team members the flexibility to bypass family commitments and set their own schedules.

These lessons will be invaluable as organizations weigh the potential pros and cons of returning to the office. After successfully implementing remote work for emergency contact center employees, business leaders are learning that they already have some of the foundations in place to move to virtual contact centers in the decade. future.

Better customer control and data power

Social media is becoming one of the predominant channels for customer service. Along with this is the increase in the number of consumers trying to solve their own queries. To address these trends, contact center employees will need to evolve to become data analytics experts. By adopting new technologies and adapting their processes, agents will be able to anticipate the needs of their customers rather than simply responding to their concerns.

There will likely be an increase in the use of granular controls. Customers will be able to login to a system, edit their account details and resolve their own queries. If consumers with greater confidence in technology can use more self-service elements, it will help contact centers better manage call volumes and take a more proactive approach to customer experience.

With the right permissions, data governance, and analytics in place, businesses could use customer data to develop a more proactive customer-centric strategy focused on engagement, loyalty, and business longevity. It’s a good thing. It is therefore not surprising that Gartner predicts that 40% of service organizations could become profit centers and de facto digital customer engagement leaders by 2025.

Keeping CX human in the age of the bot

During the pandemic, people have had to care more about chatbot services and conversational AI tools. It’s fair to say that the familiarity helped create content. The increased use of chatbot solutions has benefited contact center teams as it has allowed requests to be filtered before they reach a physical agent. With more requests handled at an earlier stage by chatbot solutions, the wait time was reduced for customers who needed to engage with a real person.

Using chatbots does not mean that customers will not want to deal with other human beings. Many people still want to retain the human touch when doing business with a company. Keeping a personal element in these interactions can build trust and build loyalty.

The pandemic has also led to a surge in video as a communication channel for many customers. Contact centers can use video technologies in their interactions with customers to visualize and resolve queries in real time, making the connection with the company or brand more authentic.

The future is bright

Looking back at the changes caused to the contact center industry as a result of the pandemic, it is clear that there have been a number of positive steps in the face of unprecedented adversity.

The shift to a more flexible and agile approach to work and wellbeing is a very clear benefit. Along with much better technology, this puts contact centers in a strong position to keep employees happy and to tap into a much larger talent pool of specialists in the future.

With the shift to virtual contact center models and better self-service capabilities, the contact center is well positioned to become the hub of customer insight and engagement in the future. Lessons learned during the pandemic played a major role in positioning the contact center for this move and precipitated a cultural revolution for an industry on the brink of significant change.

Martin Taylor is Deputy Managing Director of Content Guru

One of the world’s largest providers of cloud contact center infrastructure, Content Guru’s award-winning customer engagement and experience solutions are used by hundreds of leading businesses and government organizations across the world. world.

Storm®, Content Guru’s cloud-native, omnichannel CCaaS solution, offers virtually unlimited scalability, unparalleled integration capabilities, and state-of-the-art AI. Content Guru ensures contact centers and customer engagement centers meet the needs of every user, seamlessly. storm is deployed in mission-critical applications across Europe, the United States and Asia-Pacific, in industries ranging from finance and healthcare to government and utilities. Clients that rely on Storm include Sodexo, Chubb, Serco and NHS England.

For more information about Content Guru, check out their company profile

Images with thanks to Jabra