The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented disruption to industries around the world, and the call center industry is no exception. Call centers are seeing spikes in call volume and trying to understand how to keep staff safe and productive. Companies are looking for fast solutions that will support changing needs during the pandemic as well as long term strategies that will ensure their call center is ready for any future crisis.
There are still a lot of questions about what the future holds, but it is clear that having the ability to supplement live agents with remote agents or even virtual agents can be beneficial during times of crisis. So what are the ways you can supplement your call center during this pandemic as well as in the future if the need arises?
Option #1: Hire BPO or Outsourcer to handle spike in calls
Many of the traditional benefits of a BPO or outsourcer can also apply during a time of crisis. BPOs allow you to provide continuous support regardless of what is happening with your in-house call center representatives. BPOs are equipped to handle crisis situations because they already have advanced cloud technology and tools set in place to handle calls if you are experiencing a spike in call volume or if you have less of your own agents available. BPOs can also provide you with consultative support. They are pro’s when it comes to customer service and you can lean on them for best practices during any type of situation.
Bright Pattern BPO customer, 80024Support, operates with remote agents to prevent operational difficulties experienced during a natural disaster or crisis using Bright Pattern’s 100% virtual contact center software. “80024Support fully transitioned to a work-from-home model two years ago to distribute risk and downtime associated with single points of failure,” said Keith Mitchell, CTO of 80024Support. “Because of that, we were uniquely prepared for the current crisis. In fact, we were able to migrate several clients who were mired in legacy phone systems into our environment to assist them through this historical event.”
Option #2: Deploy Your Own Remote Workforce with Cloud Call Center Software
There are many benefits of having a remote workforce including increased continuity in time of crisis, reduced overhead, increased work-life balance, larger talent pool, and increased productivity. In fact in a 2013 study by Stanford, call center employees who volunteered to work from home saw their productivity increase by 13%. This rise was attributed to working more minutes per hour due to fewer breaks and sick days (9%) and more calls per minute because of a quieter workplace (4%). In addition to the typical benefits, there is an additional benefit during the COVID-19 pandemic, because it can protect your agents by implementing social distancing.
For more information on how to deploy a remote workforce check out our NEW E-BOOK “The Comprehensive Contact Center Guide for Deploying a Remote Workforce”
Option #3: Virtual Agents–AI and Bots
An additional way to supplement your live agents is to add additional virtual agents with AI and bots. If you are experiencing a spike in calls, you can deploy bots to handle easier transactions or even have a Conversational IVR help customers with simple inquiries. In times of crisis customers want answers fast, and deploying AI and bots can help your company keep up with the high demand.
Option #4: Self-Service Options
Similar to deploying bots and AI, self-service options allow customers to solve their problems without human intervention. By having an operational website and FAQs page, you can reduce the amount of calls and allow customers to take matters into their own hands 24/7 365.
Questions to ask yourself as you plan for a future crisis:
- Do I need cloud technology to be able to deploy my own remote call center?
- Should I consider allowing agents to work from home year round? Or have work from home trials and training sessions?
- How will communication models change with work-from-home agents?
- What is our natural disaster of pandemic protocol?
- Do we have BPO partners in place that we can lean on when needed?
- Do we have partnerships with our technology providers and will they be able to consult us on best practices in times of crisis?
About the author:
Having spent over 20 years selling technology and services to companies like Goldman Sachs, EMC, PricewaterhouseCooper and more, he is passionate about helping organizations achieve desired business outcomes with cutting edge technology and strategy. Certified in Cloud Economics and ROI through AWS and having successful stints at Interactive Intelligence and Genesys, Peter brings a unique perspective to service based companies that are striving to move away from legacy technology infrastructure and processes towards a true Omni-Channel CX model.