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Organizations have had to move fast to enable social distancing and remote working in contact centers, but it’s not always the best solution.

When we released our 2020 Global CX Benchmarking Report at the end of February, there was limited understanding that COVID-19 was about to force many countries to go into lockdown, confining people to their homes. The report highlighted the importance of proactive, personal, AI-enriched and data-driven engagement – culminating in a connected and effortless experience. The trends observed over the last few years have now been accelerated by this crisis.

In Latin, crisis means: ‘a time when a difficult or important decision must be made’ and this has now been realized in the CX domain. Non-essential voice services have been suspended, and web chat has been employed in a concierge capacity to previously underutilized digital capabilities.

CX leader’s operating models and intelligent processes have been validated by recent developments, consolidating their position in the digitally fueled, experience economy.

Different industries have had to cater for very different scenarios, from dealing with huge peaks in demand to hibernating services, depending on the market they service.

Aligning proactive customer communication with personalized, content-driven engagement would accelerate the change to sustainable customer experience.

Few, if any, organizations were adequately prepared for to comply with the government policies and health concerns that introduced social distancing or to move around 25% of their workforce out of their offices and into home locations. For contact centers, this pushed the idea of remote CX agents into hard focus, well beyond the flexibility they had created to enrich employee engagement.

Organizations needed to move quickly to establish the systems and processes required to allow agents to work remotely. This allowed them to keep mission critical services in place.

It was not, however, as simple as giving people a computer and a broadband connection. Extending the reach and capacity of omnichannel capabilities and ensuring compliance around call recording, for example, has bought the maturity of cloud CX capabilities into play.

There are serious issues of working practice, compliance and security that must be considered. Taking advantage of digitally assisted channels, such as web chat, have allowed organizations to negate some of these challenges.

Many contact centers handle personal and confidential information and allowing agents to access this information outside of a controlled environment would put organizations and their customers at unnecessary risk.

Accelerating automation

Woman working remotely on laptop

Compliance and privacy regulations make creating a remote CX workforce more complex

The need for people to interact with companies has never been greater with health concerns and financial challenges resulting in them needing to interact with organizations that provide them with services. This comes at a time when most organizations are unable to cater for this increased demand through traditional channels.

This has seen companies accelerate the drive towards digital channels. To do this, agents have been re-tasked to interact with customers through web chat, providing guidance or ‘tech support’ to customers unfamiliar with these channels.

Some organizations have chosen to address the issue by pushing customers to these digital channels while keeping some of their contact centers open. They’re using the additional space created by the smaller number of agents to implement appropriate social distancing measures.

An opportunity for growth

This crisis, and the dramatic shift in how we connect, has created a unique opportunity for companies to accelerate their digital transformation journeys. Even those organizations who have been heavily reliant on the traditional ways of interacting with clients are having to create new channels to maintain consistent communications.

For all organizations there needs to be a sustained focus on how the lessons of this situation can be used to enhance the future CX experience.

Key areas of focus for organizations need to be:

  • Look at how your applications and online services can be enhanced to accommodate users who may have avoided those channels in the past.
  • Maintain a focus on providing personal, data-driven interactions with the customers with the right balance of human and system interaction.
  • Build up an understanding of the environment your employees and customers are working in and ensure you’re able to cater to those specific needs.
  • Take the opportunity to reassess your business continuity plans and amend them in the light of what went right and wrong over the past month.