Stronger Than Ever: How the Rapid Move to Home Agents Brings New Requirements Into Focus

07

JULY 2020

By Jeff Tropeano

While there has been some resistance to moving physical contact centers online in the context of the global health crisis, most brands are embracing the need to protect agents and managers by pivoting (quickly) to home-based agents.

While it is not always easy to switch to the cloud, it may be easier than some believe. As we continue to hear reports of COVID-19 cases in contact centers (including some deaths), it’s important to understand that the risk is still very real – and the rewards of moving to distributed contact systems are also very real.

The crisis is forcing change and accelerating innovation, and while the immediate benefits are compliance with guidelines and the protection of health and lives, the long term benefits (lower costs, more flexible jobs, better service, and creative new models) are more present than ever.

At Eventus, we rose to the challenge immediately as our clients wished to transform – in some cases overnight or over a weekend – and demonstrated what is possible with new technologies, processes, training programs, and management systems. While the effort was daunting, we were delighted to see how quickly our clients moved to the new model. At the same time, we all realized these triage efforts were decidedly and necessarily “too fast” and over the last few weeks, as the dust has been settling, we’ve been focusing on lessons learned and innovating to improve everything from efficiency and workforce management to security and identity given attacks on contact center platforms.

While we have embraced advanced self-service, bots, AI, and other automation solutions, we’ve also learned from our clients (some of who we run contact centers for) that the value of human interaction is, in fact, priceless during this time.

Given the concerns of consumers which is driving surges in inbound calls – from those looking for information on the virus to those wishing to qualify for testing to those wondering about their health insurance, and even the simplest questions (which places are opened or closed, what the status of shipments is, adding the human touch has been a blessing for so many and has burnished brands given the authenticity of service delivery.

We have also been helping companies who rely on CX outsourced to countries including India. Approximately 60% of support operations in the US are outsourced to India (including retailers, healthcare providers, banks, and more), but the lockdown imposed in late March in the country put a huge strain on business as most call center employees there don’t own a laptop to work from home.

Are you ready for some more positive news?

After the U.S. Department of Labor reported 26 million job losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, government agencies across the country began recruiting, creating meaningful and well-paying jobs in contact centers, for contact tracing and more. As unemployment claims surged, new jobs were created – nearly all of them virtual – to help individuals get their benefits. Local governments and non-profits set up virtual contact centers to facilitate access to disaster recovery funds and other programs to cover essential needs like rent, utilities, mortgages, nutrition, healthcare, and more during the pandemic.

As the dust settles, and even as we prepare for the next wave of the COVID-19 crisis, and future such global health disruptions, those of us who are passionate about great experiences and service have been energized by the opportunity to solve for challenges which may have been on the back burner.

Ten of these new requirements include:

  1. Stronger security including identity verification and management
  2. More intuitive user experiences
  3. More enabled agents with orchestrated data supporting personalization
  4. Workflow management including scheduling 24/7 contact centers
  5. More integrated omni-channel choreography
  6. Training and motivation tools keeping agents and managers connected
  7. Reporting supporting quality assurance
  8. Ample equipment and broadband for high fidelity conversations
  9. Cloud-based solutions including AI for capturing, transcribing, analyzing, and searching voice sessions as easily as doing so for chats
  10. Integration of multiple data sources and systems to simplify how leaders can view and respond to real-time trends

This is a shortlist, but an important one.

We’ve been working on improving contact centers and CX for years at Eventus, but what inspires us today is how meaningful our work is, given the opportunity to bring authentic care and compassion to people, just like us, who are wondering what the new world will look like. We believe the new world is one we can all create together, even in the context of chaos and cacophony.

We believe with insight and effort, we can orchestrate new ways for brands and people, government and citizens, agencies, and the people they serve to make it through this uncertain time – and other challenging times to come.

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