Lockdown in the spring was the biggest test of business continuity plans that most businesses had ever faced, and legacy infrastructure was found seriously wanting. With further lockdowns and restrictions expected the situation still needs to be addressed. With staff being told to work from home, those businesses that rely on on-premise systems have little flexibility in the way that they can respond to customer demand. Voice as a channel is hard to maintain when agents work from home with unreliable broadband and supervisors struggle to support them with on-premise tools. Agents also struggle with access to systems and information which drives up call handling times, resulting in long queue times and, ultimately, frustrated customers – many of whom vent their anger on social media.
Banish legacy thinking too
As well as old infrastructure, legacy thinking is a key differentiator between those businesses that are failing customers and those that are not just managing, but impressing during lockdown. A good example is the belief that agents cannot work securely and productively from home, and that voice is the only channel that matters. Most contact centres still report 70% inbound interactions are voice, but is that because people prefer it, or because there are no good alternatives? Research shows that 50% of customers prefer a digital channel (including 1 in 3 of those over 65), particularly for simple enquiries and transactions.
One channel at a time
The majority of contact centres are still reporting significant and unpredictable peaks in call volumes which continues to put stress on already stretched services and staff. Contact centre managers are turning to call reduction strategies, from website FAQs to new communication channels.
With a cloud-based solution, contact centres can open up digital channels, as they are required, channel by channel (taking either a modular or big bang approach) and encourage customers to channel shift where possible to achieve a faster outcome. For example, those calling from a mobile can be sent an SMS, or could be asked if they want to instigate a chat. The key is to identify vulnerable or high value callers that need to be dealt with over the phone and prioritise them over those better served through digital channels. In addition, agents are not dealing with frustrated callers, making their work more enjoyable.
No need to rip and replace
Contact centres with cloud-based infrastructure are able to overlay additional services, so that the business continues to utilize its existing investment, while benefiting from new digital services. Calls can be seamlessly diverted to agents working at home, who are able to use collaboration tools, such as Microsoft Teams in exactly the same way as they are used to when working in the office, making them more productive.
As a trusted partner, resellers have an extremely important role to play in helping businesses make the most of their existing technology by looking at complementary CCaaS solutions that can overlay easily and remotely, scale effectively, and for agents to be proficient in hours, delivering true flexibility in a rapidly changing, unpredictable environment.