The new contact center world

Contact centers moving to WFH

Every company we have spoken with has now moved to a WFH setup with those that were slow to adapt getting slammed by the press. Generally speaking, onshore and nearshore workforces have had an easier time managing this process whereas workforces in regions like India and the Philippines have faced major disruptions. Several of our partners in these regions reported a decrease of 70-80% of their typical capacity which caused a massive shift in hiring strategies away from the most affected regions and toward locations where internet connectivity is faster and more reliable.  Here are some some highlights:

  • A large telco has repurposed nearly all of their retail workforce into contact center agents, assisting with a spike in customer requests and preventing layoffs
  • Brands are forming agent transition agreements, easing the move of agents from industries that are struggling (hospitality like Hilton) to industries which are thriving (e-commerce like Amazon)
  • A large telco has mandated that their BPO partners shift all WFH agents to be US based 
  • Onshore WFH agents are in higher demand and most companies look to utilize local resources who are able to quickly ramp in a WFH environment, mitigating losses

This rampant shift in resourcing has affected how teams are approaching training and monitoring their staff.

Training new agents and monitoring everyone

Large scale training of new agents in a high churn industry is nothing new to contact center leaders but training becomes significantly more challenging when agents are learning from home. Managers are connecting with agents through video calls but finding difficulties with internet reliability and other home workforce environment issues.

Contact centers have always focused on monitoring agents whether through QA Scoring systems or CRM analytics tools but we’re finding traditional reporting metrics face new challenges in WFH environments.  When there is a drop in productivity, is it the agent slacking off or is there a legitimate issue with their work from home environment? One telco has their team constantly logged in on Zoom calls, while supervisors manually timestamp agents when on or off their computer to try and decipher this information. 

Furthermore, as supervisors begin to work from home, contact center managers are realizing that there is no effective way to monitor their productivity. A contact center leader in the consumer electronics space notes "I realized I have no idea what my supervisors are really doing. I trust my team is working hard, but I don't know where they are falling short and how to help them." 

Digital channels receive preferential treatment

Contact volume is spiking for many industries, which was explained well by a vetern industry analyst, "Contact centers are free therapy for the masses." This volume is spread normally across calls and digital channels, but several contact center leaders are pushing to move more of their channels to digital.

Digital channels provide a few benefits in this new world:

  1. Agents who work in low internet speed locals are still able to take chats, even if their internet cannot sustain a full phone conversation
  2. Agents working from home often have a plethora of background noise which is not a great environment for a call
  3. Digital communication allows for easier oversight and intervention in discussions, especially important when a large number of agents are ramping up

One Director of Customer Operations noted, "I've actually always disliked handling calls. This situation allows me to focus on optimizing our channels how I always thought they should be."

NPS & CSAT are peaking, now is the time to experiment

Every single leader we have talked to over the past month has noted that they are seeing a spike in survey scores across NPS, CSAT & CES. As one Customer Operation leader explained, "Our customers are more understanding since this crisis is affecting everyone." This opens a rare window for contact center leaders - the ability to experiment without worrying about repercussions. This is an ideal time to focus on transformation. What would you like to try to implement...?

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