The rapid acceleration of remote work and digital technology during the Coronavirus pandemic has forced industries, and particularly the contact centre industry, to evolve well beyond what experts predicted for 2020. As the crisis subsides, some temporary solutions can become permanent components for excellent employee experience.
Here are 6 trends I believe will remain and can only strengthen organisations going forward;
Employees expectations will rise
As with any crisis, along with the terrible consequences, there are also amazing things that happen. One of the most remarkable things is that we have all faced the same crisis together. It has brought brick-and-mortar and remote teams together and has put everyone on an equal footing. This profound and emotional experience will likely change employee’s expectations of their working environment. Organisations must prepare now to facilitate this same level of collaboration and cooperation in the future and when employees return, we must stay connected with remote workers through face-to-face video and collaborative activities normally reserved for physical locations. Remember the power of authenticity and empathy. Take advantage of shared experiences and emotion to convey reassurance and support for employees and customers.
Digital-first takes the stage
Digital transformation tools, once seen as a nice-to-have investment, are now essential. Customer-facing organisations promptly woke up to the mission-critical benefits of digital tools when they had to deploy CX solutions quickly.
Automation, AI-enabled learning, messaging, and cloud-based systems are some of the digitally driven CX enhancements that are becoming prevalent. From email automation to AI assistance on calls, companies have already seen costs decrease while contact resolution, employee productivity, and customer satisfaction increase. Dependence on human labour is being rebalanced with a mix of people and technology.
It is also a good opportunity to recognise the channels your employees and customers prefer. Continue to support digital interactions like messaging or live chat to reach customers where they are while providing employees with an easy way to communicate remotely.
Distributed workforces will triumph
Organisations have learned quickly that diverse and distributed workforce options enable strong business continuity. The ability to ramp up work-from-home staff, create temporary centres in unconventional places, or shift operations to different geographies have become viable options and broken barriers to entry.
The old distribution model will be shaped into a hybrid of remote and brick-and-mortar work. De-centralised physical locations allow for maximum diversification in skills, resources, and locations. The flexibility of being able to deploy workers from anywhere creates a workforce that can be used to suit various volumes and support needs, depending on the situation.
Security adapts to remote life
People, technology, and everything necessary to make a brick-and-mortar centre run had to be moved during the pandemic. The influx of technology changing places opened a huge gap in security concerns that needed addressing. As remote work becomes more common, with security we will need to focus on several things such as; ensuring that employees are not able to write onto their hard drives; hardware such as USB media is restricted to prevent malicious malware; real-time malware analysis for data loss prevention and forensics is deployed and multi-factor authentication is used to track who has access to cloud systems.
Expanding CX self-service
Massive effort was needed to support the most urgent healthcare, financial services, travel, public sector, and other questions when the pandemic hit. The shift of available human resources to the most pressing issues made self-service deflection a strategic imperative. Smart IVR, online FAQs, automated chatbots, and enhanced knowledgebases became critical call deflection solutions for non-emergency calls and common questions.
The push for self-service will enable organisations to get more out of their service capacity with the same units of labour in this time of emergency. The advancements made here will be incredibly useful for providing customers with relevant information quickly without having to force everyone down the voice channel.
Disaster-proofing levels up
Natural disasters and human factors will always be cause for unexpected volumes of support. The flexibility of service capabilities brought on by remote work enabled organisations to more readily deploy emergency staff in times of distress.
When future customer demand surges unexpectedly, businesses that can pivot and scale support capacity quickly will be invaluable. This will mean investing in infrastructure and digitally driven training to have all the pieces in place in case the immediate need for scale arises.
Joanne Regan-Iles, Executive HR Director EMEA – TTEC