A couple of years ago I attended a conference on customer service and participated in a session where a speaker from Ecuador described how his contact center survived the earthquake that devastated his country in 2016.
To be honest I don’t really remember the details anymore, but the pictures that he showed of the wreckage of the building where his contact center was located are still very vivid in my memory: the whole thing was just a mount of debris.
But he stood up there and talked so proudly and fondly of how his agents went to what was left of the building to savage what they could from what once was their workplace.
He also described how they continued, although with high limitations, to provide service to their customers in such a tragic time from their own homes. His was for sure an example of resilience and responsiveness.
Fast forward to March 2020. The whole world is dealing with COVID-19 pandemic.
Governments shut down countries overnight and contact centers need to adapt accordingly. I can’t help but wonder how this contact center in Ecuador responded to this.
At Altitude Software, we even described a few success stories explaining how our customers handled this crisis.
Contact centers turned into responsive contact centers overnight too, to ensure not only that workers and their families are safe, but their customers can still reach out to the contact center and get answers to questions or solutions to problems.
We can use indicators, such as FCR or NPS, to measure the level of customer service; however, the concept of excellent customer service is really a subjective one.
What we can all agree on is that the one thing that customers appreciate is a high level of contact center responsiveness, of having their issues solved as fast as possible. This is, without any question, perceived also as the most important indicator for the customer experience.
Tips to successfully set up a responsive contact center
The situation brought by this pandemic is an excellent motivation to focus on the customer! It’s probably not as complex or costly as one may think. It can start with the points described below.
According to an article by Accenture, customer preferences during the COVID-19 pandemic are as follows:
No doubt the phone is still the preferred channel, but businesses still need to be able to offer their customers alternative channels because customers are changing the way they interact with businesses.
Telephone is the preferred channel for starting the interaction, but then they use a growing number of different channels, that span over time. However, they expect to start exactly where they stopped, regardless of the channel where the last interaction occurred.
Bring in AI and chatbots
This pandemic emptied call centers all over the world! Call center staff went to work at home, but they weren’t enough to handle all inbound calls that were flooding in as people were seeking all types of information and doing all kinds of things online that they didn’t do previously! So, they quickly adapted to the new normal by bringing in AI and chatbots to help handle the exponential rise in interactions and give customers the excellent service they deserve.
Contact centers had to reinvent themselves, in record time, and combine channels, for example asynchronous messages, self-service with assisted service to meet the growing demands.
Reinvent the way of working
New customer demands require a new way of working and contact center responsiveness! I’m pretty sure that not all interactions that arrive at the contact center need to be solved immediately. Then, customers and their questions need to be prioritized to give immediate attention to what is really urgent and leave the others for a later time, or provide options, such as call backs. Use bots to enable customer self-service or to offer proactive messages and information that does not require any interaction with a human agent.
Contact center responsiveness is all about focusing on the customer and the customer’s experience. Flexibility, agility, omnichannel, support to and seamless unification of digital channels with other interactions, and combination of automated with human service are the right path to start tackling the needs and requirements of modern customers, that demand nothing less than responsiveness from companies they do business with!
Is your contact center responsive? Take the quiz to find out!