Contact Centres after Covid-19 – No Longer Business As Usual
Edmund Ovington, VP Global Channel & Alliances at Unbabel
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected businesses in a major way across all industries, and the current lockdown in many countries has put significant strain on even the most resilient companies.
Businesses have had to make major adjustments, moving staff to work from home while responding to high volumes of customer service requests. Travel and hospitality have had a particularly challenging time, dealing with cancelled bookings and customer enquiries in multiple languages. However, this situation will not last forever.
So what can contact centres expect when the infection rate is under control and social distancing comes to an end?
Who’s in the best position now?
Faced with the double challenge of staff working remotely and a hugely increased volume of calls, the businesses that are managing best through this situation are those which have remote working practices in place. Many contact centres already benefit from employees working from home/remotely as a way to make their workforce more flexible, and have the technology in place to add and remove agents easily. For those who do not, there is a pressing need not only to allow workers to take calls securely from their homes but to build the sense of community among employees that are usually found in the contact centre itself.
The only way to address these challenges is to implement new technology as fast as possible, and we’re going to see a big rise in the adoption of AI and automation as this takes place. Automating aspects of customer response ensures surges in contact volumes are managed, while AI-enabled translation means that customers receive responses no matter where they, or the contact centre agents, are working from.
From bust to boom
Once quarantine measures are relaxed, there is likely to be a surge in business as people rush to make up for the activities they have missed out on during lockdown, and contact centres need to be prepared. The skills that many businesses have now acquired – to be agile, scalable, and to engage new contact centre agents with the help of outsourcing, technology and the gig economy — will be vital when the surge of booking and shopping enquiries comes.
When the starting gun is fired, the companies that are ready for the influx of customers will rise to the top.
It’s not going to be business as usual: those who try to return to the pre-COVID models of working will be left behind. When lockdown comes to an end, those who have taken the time to strengthen their capacity will not only recover from the pandemic’s drought but find themselves in a better position than before.
Edmund Ovington is Vice-President Global Channel & Alliances at Unbabel
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