Contact centres, after being elevated to the nexus of customer engagement in the recent years, are now being crippled by COVID-related challenges of work-from-home, employee illness, social distancing, and global disruption of offshore operations. At the start of lockdown, outbound calling had pretty much ground to a halt, and inbound callers were faced with various service failures, including unanswered calls, endless busy signals and long queuing times.
Today, months into the pandemic, contact volumes and wait times remain excessively high in most sectors. While conditions are stabilising in some cases, contact centre leaders are starting to think about the future – reviewing theiroperations to future-proof against disruptions should the similar crises hit.
The COVID-19 pandemic vividly demonstrated that typical continuity plans forcontact centres are fundamentally flawed, and that standard contact centreoperating models aren’t flexible enough to cope with highly unpredictableevents. We believe this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for organisationsto completely re-imagine the entire contact centre people, process, technologyand information capabilities. Organisations that simply tweak what they weredoing pre-COVID may not only be missing out on the chance to shift to moreadaptable and resilient ways of working, but may have to re-invest in the nearfuture anyway
By capitalising on exponential innovations in conversational AI, machine-learning on hyperscale cloud-platforms, contact centres can be protected from being caught flatfooted again, while also improving ability to serve customers more efficiently and effectively during the new ans even the next normal. Gradual incremental upgrades towards the somewhat overused (anddreamy) goal of creating ‘Contact Centres of the Future’ can no longer apply.