‘Work from home’ or remote workspaces have become the norm due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Even industries and businesses that require on-ground and physical presence had to adapt by finding new ways to telecommute and adopting remote working models.
The years to follow will see an inevitable shift to virtual working spaces. This article will help you understand that shift and how you can optimise it.
However, before we discuss post-COVID-19 scenarios, it is essential to understand the current landscape. According to Cognizant,
“During the initial work-from-home phase, several of our contact centre clients experienced up to 40% absenteeism as employees struggled to integrate work and home life.”
One can easily assume that for the contact centres employees or with customer engagement agents, the shift has been a lot more difficult. After all, in order to work efficiently, they depend on factors like connectivity and protocol to function.
There is no denying the direct correlation between successful businesses and thriving contact centres. Keeping this in mind, companies strived to make virtual setups more convenient for their agents.
Rigorous training, deploying cloud telephony systems and ensuring strong Internet connectivity are some of the ways this was achieved.
Here’s how contact centres especially for small and medium-sized businesses—can stay afloat and be an asset:
1. Switching to Cloud Telephony
Many companies have switched to cloud telephony as it supplements work from home setup. At the same time, it is cost-effective. Here are some specific cloud-based features that have made the process smoother:
- Less wait time – Gone are the days when a customer had to wait for hours on a service helpline. Cloud telephony has enabled call diversion to idle employees operating from any location or time zone. This eliminates the risk of missing calls. If in case you do miss a call, the customer can leave a message that agents can respond to at the earliest.
- Easier conflict resolution – With the IVR in cloud telephony, not only can first level conflict be resolved by the system itself, but it can also provide context and vital customer information beforehand. This makes the customer experience smoother and more solution-oriented. It also saves time and energy, as well as caters to more customers.
2. Company Culture
Apart from business processes, there has also been a shift in the company culture. There is the responsibility of working from home while balancing housework, financial stresses, changes in routine and, for many, home-schooling their kids. Studies indicate that the pandemic has resulted in mass grief and increased mental health issues.
This is an important time to be present for your employees, motivate them to keep going and make remote working convenient. A happy and invested employee is more likely to work harder, achieve targets and bring profit to the company.
3. Mapping Digital Engagement
Now, when the whole world is available on the internet, is a good time to set up digital communication with customers. Building real-time channel dashboards, which can be monitored can help you understand the general requirements of customers.
Using cloud telephony solutions, you can divide departments and assign separate numbers to them; for better call analysis, marketing campaigns and customer experience.
4. Adopting Flexibility
The biggest lesson that COVID-19 has taught us is that flexibility and adaptability are essential skills for any business to survive. Executive coach Marcia Reynolds says that
“Adaptability in the face of uncertainty, and is important because it allows us to see the possibilities in unanticipated change.”
Nobody can predict what the future brings, which makes it imperative to try different strategies and better understand consumer behaviour. The current situation projects that strong customer engagement on a digital platform will boost relationships.
5. Using Physical Space Smartly
Since people are hesitant to step out of their homes unless needed, the outlook towards office spaces has been altered. A physical space not only demands infrastructural and maintenance costs but also miscellaneous charges. The shift to work-from-home can be made, but a hybrid model has also recently become popular.
The model enables certain teams to work on-premise, while others telecommute. Many of these models also involve co-working spaces, as one-time cost saves a lot of effort and logistical hassle.
6. Listen to Feedback
The customer feels valued when listened to, especially when things are uncertain. They want their grievances and feedback to be taken into consideration.
Many companies have great feedback structures, but because of the lack of action, it becomes irrelevant. If a company implements changes based on the feedback received, it can be relayed to the customer who will definitely notice the shift. Only then will they believe that their feedback is valued.
7. Active Communication
In a world where customers see multiple companies offering similar services, it is important to make sure that your company stands out. Active engagement with your consumers will contribute to the same. Emails talking about progress, a newsletter every few months or even personalised holiday greetings can help businesses retain loyalty.
In conclusion, it is important to understand that in any business, regardless of industry, product or service, customer engagement is an important parameter for success. Having excellent contact centres is essential as it shows that as a company, you care about your customers.
COVID-19 may have hit your company hard financially. But there is a way for all businesses, new or small, to battle the consequences of the pandemic.