According to a major new industry survey “What Will Your Contact Centre Be Like Post Lockdown?”, 77% of contact centres had 50% or more of their employees working from home during the current Covid-19 crisis with 62% stating that, if there was a second wave, they needed to understand how to do homeworking better.
Recognising the significant impact of the current crisis on the future of the industry, 83% of contact centre leaders said that they will be revising their Business Continuity Strategy/Plan to address the possibility of subsequent waves of Coronavirus – with 56% of stating that they should use technology to manage customer contacts more effectively.
40% said that they were planning to invest in Communications with Remote Managers/Agents in 2021, the same percentage as said that they would be investing in Remote Management and Monitoring Solutions. 39% expect to invest in Artificial Intelligence solutions.
89 per cent of UK contact centre leaders say that the Covid-19 crisis has changed the UK contact centre industry forever.
102 UK contact centre leaders at Department Head, Director and Manager level took part in the June 2020 online study, which was conducted by Pitch Marketing Communications in partnership with the South West Contact Centre Forum, Call North West, ContactBabel and Talkdesk. Survey participants came from a broad range of contact centres from different industries.
In other key findings:
Pre the Covid-19 Crisis
80% of organisations said that they had a formal Business Continuity Plan prior to the Covid-19 crisis, with 90% of these considering Shutting Down Office Buildings/Operations, and 92% Communicating with Employees as part of those plans.
During the Covid-19 Crisis
Anxiety/Mental Health Issues has been the biggest concern for organisations operating work-from-home centres during the current crisis, with 66% stating that it has been a significant or very significant issue. 51% of respondents said that Training, and 44% Managing Contact Volumes, had been significant or very significant issues.
To cope with the Covid-19 crisis, 79% of respondents had invested in Employee Communications (including Microsoft Teams and Zoom), with 34% investing in Contact Handling technology, 30% in Cloud solutions, and 25% in digital/online solutions.
By 2021, 35% of contact centre leaders think that their contact centres will mainly be homeworking, with only 27% stating that they think that under a quarter of their contact centre employees will be working-from-home. 58% stated that they thought homeworking would be partly optional and partly compulsory.
30% of respondents saw Anxiety/Mental Health issues as being more of a challenge next year. Likewise, 30% saw Training, and 21% Managing Multiple Channels, as potentially being bigger issues.
89% of people said they would be Better Prepared if there was a subsequent wave of Coronavirus. In terms of practical actions, 73% said that they would be better Able to Deploy Our Work-From-Home Model Faster, while 54% said that they would be better Able to Make Changes to Technology Infrastructure.
When asked What Will Your Working Environment Mainly Look Like in 2021? 57% expected it to most closely resemble a Socially Distanced Centre, 35% a Work-from-Home centre, and only 7% a Normal Contact Centre.
“There is huge uncertainty within the UK contact centre industry as we emerge from lockdown” said Jane Thomas, CEO of the South West Contact Centre Forum. “What will customer contact centres physically look like as we emerge from lockdown? What people, operational and technology challenges do we face? What do we need to do better if a second wave of Coronavirus were to occur? Our survey is a unique industry collaboration designed to provide answers to these important questions…. and point the way forward.”
“Traditional contact centres have a higher potential to be hit hard by the spread of a health crisis, such as the coronavirus outbreak, or other natural disasters. Due to shelter-in-place orders and social distancing requirements, contact centres suddenly face the need to move agents onto a work-from-home solution,” said Tiago Paiva, chief executive officer, Talkdesk. “Cloud solutions are ideal to help companies remain agile and move quickly to maintain critical business continuity through remote work options, offering staff safety and setting themselves up to thrive in the post-lockdown ‘new normal’.”