Content Guru, a contact centre and customer engagement provider, has released data revealing the dramatic impact of COVID-19 and lockdown on customer engagement across the economy.
The transport, hospitality, distribution and estate agency sectors saw the most significant impact, with the most severe drop seen in the transportation sector, where customer engagement declined by 92% between January and May 2020.
The research, which collated trends from more than 44 million customer service calls before and during lockdown, revealed customer engagement variations across 13 industry sectors, ranging from manufacturing, banking & insurance to health, hospitality and the public sector. Among the most heavily affected industries, the hospitality and distribution sectors each saw engagement fall by more than 90%.
“This data offers stark insight into the severity of COVID-19 lockdown on customer engagement across some of the biggest and most important sectors of the economy,” said Martin Taylor, deputy CEO and co-founder at Content Guru. “2020 has been a period of great change and this data shows the enormous pressure many contact centres have been under to rethink how they are engaging with customers – from implementing remote working capabilities and integrating disparate digital communications channels, to layering on intelligent automation technology to improve the customer journey.”
Despite falling by 81% from pre-lockdown levels in April, customer call volumes for estate agents rebounded again in May, with an increase in excess of 200% compared to April’s low. With government restrictions on estate agent activity lifted, customer contact to estate agents then continued to increase, reaching a new high for the year in June, with engagement 63% above levels recorded in January.
Every industry analysed in the research saw customer engagement fall in April, as lockdown took effect and many organisations encouraged the use of digital communications channels, including websites, social media and online web chats. While organisations in all industries anticipated significant increases in contact volumes amid growing consumer uncertainty, the supermarket retail sector stood out, with contact volumes surging by 115% between January and March, before dropping back in May and June to sit 28% below levels experienced at the start of the year.
The public sector has seen engagement growth during lockdown, with call volumes 19% higher in June than January. Healthcare, security, banking/insurance and utilities have also been less severely affected, with customer engagement in June less than 20% under its January levels across each sector.
Taylor added, “We’re now seeing signs that recovery momentum is growing, evidenced by activity in industries where customer call volume is returning to near normal levels or even setting new highs for the year to date. Organisations, therefore, need to focus on the quality of their customer experience and ensuring their contact centres have the agility and scalability to support remote teams and an increasing number of calls.”