(This post was originally published for UC Today)
The way we are living our lives has changed dramatically since COVID-19 broke out. Our most basic routines have been affected; our morning commutes, working at the office and socialising with friends and family, are all far removed from our present reality.
Despite the swift and dramatic change of circumstances, businesses still have to communicate effectively with their customers. In many cases, this is more important than ever before, but what does COVID mean for contact centres?
With social distancing and self isolation, your customers rely heavily on having sleek, accessible digital channels in order to gather information or solve their problems. This can put increasing pressure on your contact centre, causing a strain on efficiency and decreasing customer satisfaction.
However, there are ways to help improve this situation. Below are some effective ways to help you maintain and improve your contact centre efficiency during COVID, helping you to boost agent productivity whilst keeping them safe, and improving customer experience during these turbulent times.
COVID has caused many stores to shut and without the ability to pop in-store to speak with an advisor, a lot of customer journeys are now exclusively online. The removal of physical stores removes a key contact channel, which will need to be replaced via your contact centre.
A live chat tool can be easily embedded onto your website. This allows customers to get instant responses for information or answers to questions from live agents. It allows agents to manage queries more efficiently, as they can handle multiple chats concurrently, which is particularly helpful if you are receiving higher-than-normal interaction volumes.
In addition, many live chat solutions are cloud based, so your agents can work remotely and still have access to the software, allowing your contact centre to be home based during COVID.
Live chat is also super fast and easy to set up, with only 3 lines of code easily embedded into your website you can be up and running within a day.
A home-working solution is paramount for many contact centres with COVID at the moment, so it might be time to consider implementing a digital, cloud-based solution to enable your agents to effectively, and safely, work from home.
A cloud-based contact centre allows agents to remotely login and work from any location. Without the need for desktop apps or downloads, it is easy to use and quick to set up, letting you maintain your contact centre efficiencies despite the disruption.
There are plenty of tools on the market which also let agents manage multiple interaction types concurrently, including website live chats, phone calls, emails and video calls through the single browser-based console, helping to maintain overall contact centre efficiency even when working from home during COVID.
Despite stores being closed , many customers still require face-to-face communication. Offering video calls is a great way to offer face-to-face customer service through your contact centre during COVID. This is particularly true for healthcare professionals, educational services and even online retailers.
There are multiple ways to use video as a contact channel. You can use a free video conferencing tool, such as Zoom, to schedule appointments and consultations with customers. This ad hoc approach is simple yet effective, especially for smaller scale businesses.
Alternatively, you can embed a video calling option into your website, allowing customers to escalate chats or web calls into video calls whenever necessary.
With either of these options, you don’t need to worry about investing in expensive equipment - the webcam and microphone on a laptop will work just fine.
Outside of COVID, video calling is a great way to improve your contact centre accessibility for those who are hard of hearing or require more specialist care. It is also an easy way to offer superior online customer service by giving your customers visual support, so think of video chat as a good investment for the future.
Contact centres are usually bustling, vibrant places to work. The whole team is normally together, making it a loud and dynamic workplace. All of this helps to keep the office culture positive and morale high, encouraging productivity and ultimately positively affecting contact centre performance.
Of course, remote working cannot be further away from what many agents are used to, making it easy for morale and productivity levels to drop. Although COVID has changed the way contact centres function, it shouldn’t affect the morale of your agents.
Keep in touch with your agents by scheduling regular team conference calls, and run exciting incentives and games to keep energy levels topped up. This can have a huge impact on the team’s overall performance, as a positive and dynamic culture produces happier, more engaged agents, even if they are working remotely.
We hope you find these four tips helpful and it helps your contact centre adapt during the COVID pandemic. If your business is struggling to survive UK lockdown, there are ways you can diversify and keep your business running. Discover five practical ways you can do this in our blog post: 'UK lockdown: How to ensure your business survives'.
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