COVID-19 Trends: Contact Centers & Customer Experience

In the Nectar blog, we always aim to provide trending and helpful content, and today is no different. For a while now, we’ve been talking about the impact of COVID, and how it affects network management and the importance of testing and monitoring.

We’ve done a few pitches around this general customer experience and ensuring it is stable and offering ways to improve it. Now, we’d like to shift as we get closer towards the end of the year, believe it or not, and talk about moving forward.

As we’ve been doing research to figure out what types of themes or topics might be of interest to the publications we’re trying to get into, we’ve seen most people talking about COVID negatively, as it’s certainly impacted and complicated things.

But now people are starting to write about how we can work better with what we have now. The conversation has shifted to the impact of remote agents on the sensor network.

How Will This New Normal Work Long-Term?

How can we make it work better and maybe even a side-by-side comparison? This is how things had to happen before, but now this is what’s working for our new normal.

That said, it differs from region to region and country to country. Certainly, as we can see in Europe, since everyone had to work from home, there had to be a lot of changes to be flexible enough so people could work from home.

Now that the pandemic has subsided over there, supervisors and organizations have found that actually they may have moved a bit too fast. Their agents were not trained or disciplined enough to be able to sit behind a desk for eight, nine hours, answering telephone calls and having conversations with customers.

What is now happening is offices are opening up, and the government is easing down restrictions and actually asking agents to go back into the office. Not all of them, but some.

So, in a sense, you’re going to end up having a hybrid model. You may have certain, probably lower-skilled, contact center agents working from offices where you have the more highly-skilled, experienced or disciplined agents working from home.

That’s the kind of trend we see. Having said that, all the original practices that we had in place pre-COVID, and then the new practices that we had to implement or fast-forward post-COVID will still remain, but only in a balanced fashion.

Will The U.S. Follow the European Model?

Though in the U.S. we’re a bit slower to ease restrictions, we absolutely anticipate a similar shift. It’s got to happen because it makes sense. If you look at centers and agents, you always have a high churn within any contact center.

A lot of employees wouldn’t expect to be at an organization for that long, so they wouldn’t have that much experience. What about discipline? This is probably 30 percent of contact agents we’re talking about, so we think that the same principles will apply to the U.S. for sure.

What About the Job Market?

The more we think about it, it’s more of a business trend versus a contact center technology trend, but thinking about how the pandemic has created more job loss than we normally see in a year.

At some point, people are trying to find jobs where they can. That said, we see an uptick in the amount of new employees to this industry.

Businesses are getting up to speed with new business models and most of them include more remote working, unless it’s a restaurant, emergency healthcare or public service type of business.

More Real-World Examples

We always love to provide real-world examples for further context, although it’s hard to get customers on board to do a testimonial or a case study or even a press release.

Here are some specific scenario examples that really drive home the value and contact center testing and monitoring. If your customers can’t get hold of you or they have a bad experience getting hold of you, they’re not going to be satisfied with the service, and they will look elsewhere.

The same principles effectively apply. Even if you go to someone’s website, say the links don’t work, the images look poor and it doesn’t look high-quality.

The customer is going to be put off and they’ll probably end up looking elsewhere if they open up the chat interaction to be able to speak to an agent and an agent isn’t picked out or it’s too robotic.

So, they use too much boldness. If it’s not lifelike, then the customer will be put off. It’s all interlinked and it’s all interrelated. The same principles apply. At Nectar, we have tried to pitch what value this really brings to the business and have focused on the customer experience.

What CIOs & C-Level Executives Should Know

C-Level executives need to be in touch with how contact center testing and monitoring really drive value into entire businesses. It’s probably their only touchpoint to the customers, and again, a bad experience damages your brand.

A C-Level executive is always worried about their brand getting damaged, so they’ll always consider that and spend money to protect it.

They are also not taking their eye off the future of work, and many see the pandemic as an opportunity to rethink how we work and communicate, as described in a CEO Survey form KPMG.

Additional Trends for 2021

As we approach the end of the year, we’re going to start pitching some 2021 trends, aside from the hybrid model we discussed and adjusting to that.

Overall, there’s just going to be a progression of customers going to the cloud. A lot of the legacy infrastructure is just going to be not necessarily entirely ripped out, but they will consider having a hybrid model and going to the cloud more rapidly.

That’s mostly it for now, but we’ll be keeping an eye on trends that we’re reading. If there’s anything new that comes up, we’ll be sure to update this article accordingly.

If you have questions about how Nectar products and solutions can help your enterprise contact center or customer service team, contact us today.