How life has changed a year into the novel coronavirus pandemic needs no introduction. Disrupted workflows and post covid human interactions/ communication needs have forced organizations to make agile & innovative operational shifts to meet the demands in a revised pandemic-infused reality for both customers as well as for employees. The call center world is no exception.
Ozonetel, a leading call center software solutions provider recently published a collection of interviews of industry leaders who shed light on call center trends in a post covid world. Unsurprisingly, in a post covid world, call centers need to brace themselves towards tech unification, proactive customer journey, and employee retention & wellness.
Call center trends in a post covid world
1. New tech touchpoints
Thanks to the advent of new technology, channels like live video chats, mobile texts, and in-app conversations will continue to be popularly used in 2021. This, coupled with customers with short attention span, rapid delivery will become important.
2. High call volumes are here to stay for the foreseeable future
According to a study by Ozonetel, where 150 million calls across six diverse industry verticals were analyzed, high call volumes are likely to continue to be more pronounced especially for the healthcare/pharma, eCommerce, and food delivery industries. Inbound/ outbound call unpredictability is likely to continue as Covid-related services and announcements roll out globally.
3. More proactive and predictive customer journeys
Post pandemic, for 60% of consumers, customer experience has become pivotal in determining loyalty. Customers are highly tuned in and nothing goes unnoticed. Consistent customer experience will become crucial. Inconsistencies will lead to distrust, leading them to switch to competitive offerings.
So, contact centers can’t afford to be siloed anymore. According to digital marketing and Customer Experience leader, Sue Duris, “Alignment to the customer only works when every team is rowing in the same direction.” In 2021, call centers will, therefore, need to concertedly employ a more “unified” approach around business operations to provide more integrated, proactive, and predictive CX.
4. Empathy takes center stage
A truly fantastic customer journey is not possible without empathy and human connections, no matter how streamlined & robust the technology. According to Customer Success Manager, Sara Ostin, “We’ve had to become really great at reading the room and understanding the environment that our customers operate in in order to provide true value”. So, a one-size-fits-all approach needs to be replaced with a deeper understanding of customer needs.
5. Need to optimize for employee engagement
Great agent experience = superior customer experience! With employees working from home, possibly permanently, it’ll be imperative for employers to ensure adequate employee engagement and emotional connection for them to be 100% productive. This will likely need to become a core part of an organization’s strategic roadmap.
Mike Akoi, from Reflective Keynotes Inc. aptly puts it – “Work-from-home employee engagement will be one of the biggest contact center challenges for 2021.” As a result, orgs will need to increase communications and appreciate work-from-home agents. Coaching will need to go virtual and engaging with a two-way dialogue for agents’ personal development so work from home staff doesn’t feel ignored.
6. Employee retention will be key
Simply put, agent attrition is expensive. According to digital marketing guru, Matt Wujciak employee replacement cost is about one-third of that employee’s salary. Not to mention the huge time sink related to training, onboarding, and customer relationship-building. As a result, organizations should do whatever they can to reduce agent burnout.
2020 is indeed hindsight! Learnings from the global pandemic will continue to have lessons well into 2021, simply because the aftermath of covid-19 will continue in the foreseeable future, touching all of us – customers, employers, and employees. “Many of these pandemic-related accommodations are going to stick, and technology’s role in journey management is certainly only going to increase,” according to CCXP Jim Tincher. The post covid world is still trying hard to meet its equilibrium. It continues to remain stressed and fraught. While call centers try to meet and exceed their performance metrics, this should not be done at the expense of the customer or employee experience.