Even during a pandemic, businesses need to maintain efficient communications with internal and external customers alike — which means effective cloud contact center solutions are essential. We’ve seen no shortage of examples reported by industry media in the last few weeks of companies outsourcing both inbound and outbound calls to newly-established contact centers, keeping customers engaged and informed during these uncertain times. Let’s take a look at a few key takeaways:
1) Usage of Call Centers Has Increased During COVID-19
Articles in Contact Center World and other media have noted how some organizations have responded to the current crisis by outsourcing some or all of their communications to new, dedicated call centers to address rising call volumes and increasing need for essential information and guidance. Some examples:
The CDC is utilizing chatbots in newly established contact centers, allowing patients to discuss symptoms with what the center calls its “Self-Checker.” The system, nicknamed Clara, walks the user through a series of screening questions such as location, age, and gender. Depending upon the responses, Clara then directs the caller to the appropriate resources.
The Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR) in Hawaii announced that new phone lines have been established to help process unemployment claims while the agency works on augmenting the current online filing process. The phone numbers allow callers to reset passwords and schedule appointments through voice-centric applications since the department’s walk-in offices are closed.
UK Council Leader Richard Watts has launched a call center helpline to coordinate coronavirus mutual aid efforts throughout his borough in London. The service is part of an overall effort to help calm anxious residents, instruct them about the city’s public health policies, deter panic buying, and keep the public informed and engaged.
Jackson Memorial Hospital in South Florida has launched a dedicated phone line to manage demand at its CB Smith Park testing site, and reduce the time patients had spent manually providing information. The call center gathers vital data such as health insurance, name, date of birth, and symptoms — all before the patient ever enters the testing site.
2) When Considering Customer Experience, Contact Center Agents Must Be Mindful of Emotion
According to Rick Parrish, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester, customer experience during a crisis needs to appeal to the end-customer’s emotional needs, creating what he calls an “emotionally relevant” interaction. Customer engagement should be flexible, responsive, and deliver meaningful outcomes. Consequently, contact center solutions that allow agents to quickly address issues are essential during a crisis. “Your digital channels must be more emotionally attuned than ever,” notes Parrish. “After all, emotion is the most important dimension of customer experience (CX) quality — even for digital.”
3) Companies Are Adopting AI and IVR Solutions to Mitigate Impact
"Customer service centers are experiencing an unprecedented uptick in overall call volume,” according to VentureBeat. As workplace disruption, canceled travel plans, and quarantines continue around the globe, “…companies are turning to AI to bridge the resulting gaps in service.” For example, solutions are being deployed to help travelers cancel airline reservations, and banks and credit card companies are being inundated with calls to address personal finance needs. Companies are looking toward sophisticated AI and IVR systems to facilitate self-service, reducing long hold times for the dramatically increased call traffic.
Contact center outsourcing is being utilized by companies, governments, and organizations to address coronavirus-related issues, yet the same virus makes it problematic to staff these centers. Millions of companies now have a distributed workforce. Contact center and IVR solutions can automate responses on behalf of these companies, resolving issues for hundreds of anxious residents, employees, and consumers in an environment where live operators are in shorter supply.
4) Cancellations and Updates Can Be Accommodated Via CCaaS Broadcast
The ability to communicate during a crisis is paramount. Many organizations suddenly find themselves needing to convey cancellation messages or service information to huge groups of people. Contact centers allow organizations to quickly and easily deliver service-related updates and emergency information through automated response broadcast capabilities.
“Use of voice can save time and enhance customer experience when there is a known widespread issue with a service,” noted Jamie Tolentino of the TNW tech news site. “In this instance, an automated voice message can also be played to address the customers facing a common issue.”
Although the contact center industry wants as much as anyone for our markets—and the health of our nation—to return to normal, it’s encouraging to know that the technologies we provide are playing a key role in helping our customers mitigate the impact of this crisis.
If you’d like to learn more about how businesses can leverage cloud contact center solutions — as well as the proven mobile and Unified Communications functionalities of CoreNexa™ UC — head to our dedicated COVID-19 resources page. There, you’ll find our latest resources and guidance to help you and your customers stay connected, engaged, and moving forward during the COVID-19 pandemic.