5 Ways COVID-19 Has Changed Call Centers Forever

The pandemic has driven monumental changes in how people live, how communities function, and how businesses around the globe operate.

At first, most of us have seen the many demands of social distancing as unforeseen, painful, and impossible to sustain long-term.

And we were right.

But as time has worn on, it’s becoming more and more clear that this has also been a period of unprecedented innovation, collaboration, and breakthrough problem solving. When the crisis phase of this pandemic has passed, I believe we will emerge from it not just shaken by the shock of it all, but reinvigorated by the rapid acceleration of so many great ideas and fast-tracked improvements that were driven by COVID-19.

Here are the 5 ways the customer care world will be forever changed by what we are now enduring together.

  1. Competency, not Geography Will Win The Job

That’s a rule that’s been followed for a long time by those few call centers who led the way with at-home call center agents. But for most call center operations, this is a whole new way of seeing the world – and the vast new breadth and depth of their talent pools. Long-term, this one change will make companies and entire economies more stable and robust. Short-term, it will be a challenge for organizations to completely shift their mindset from quick-shuffling staff to work “temporarily” from home, to figuring out the nuts and bolts and nuances of successful remote hiring.

  1. AI-Assisted Humans Deliver CX Excellence

As call centers in the financial services, healthcare, and other directly impacted industries were instantly deluged with call volumes, the customer care agents staffing their phones needed to be deployed to the most urgent and complex calls. Even then, wait times and handle times soared. Smart brands are learning from this, and quickly figuring out how to make highest and best use of smart IVR, chatbots, and other automated systems to lessen the burden and deliver better help to callers. These lessons and cost-savings will not suddenly get unlearned once the virus has been brought under control.

  1. Continuity Planning and Disaster Readiness Will Be More Predictive and Robust

Until now, most companies envisioned potential disasters as geographically or chronologically limited. Hurricanes, earthquakes, acts of war, or sudden losses of leadership certainly called for nimble response and pre-determined next steps. But the solutions to these kinds of catastrophes were often seen as available outside the range of the disaster. By definition, a pandemic is everywhere. You can’t “bring someone else in” or move the team to a different building. COVID-19 has taught us to think about how to preserve our organizations’ long-term wellbeing very differently. As a result, more and more companies will have continuity plans that allow them to scale and pivot with lightening speed.

  1. Security and Privacy Policy and Systems Will Undergo Constant Revamping

As headquarters moves to the cloud and the office moves into the spare room at home, there will continue to be a flood of new, innovative, disruptors bringing smarter, better, higher quality ways for teams to monitor work, collaborate, and stay connected. As a result, companies will, of course, discover new security challenges. Whether these challenges are rapidly and effectively mitigated will depend on an organization’s security strength. For many brands, this will mean expanded security roles and procedures.

  1. Trust, Integrity, and Cross-Functional Collaboration Will Rule

The days of demanding that your team reports to the office, and works under your watchful eye are simply over. So how can you know if your employees are working well, doing their best, delivering a superior experience to your customers? Well, you’ll have to invest in those systems, training, and processes to make sure you’re an accessible boss and coach – and to make sure your employees’ work is measurable. But really, the only way you’ll create a team that honors their commitments is if you’re highest priorities in the hiring process are the core competencies. You can teach the skills. But teach-ability, honesty, integrity, and the sincere desire to help strangers on the phone when they call for help – those are the qualifications for which tomorrow’s successful brands will need to hire, train, and coach. 

If you would like to know more about how Skybridge Americas can help your call center thrive in the forever-changed world of customer care, please reach out. We would love to talk!

Bobby Matthews
Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing
Skybridge Americas

Find out how Skybridge Americas can help you delight your customers and grow your business.

We seamlessly integrate our superior customer care skills with your brand messaging. For more information, contact us at 763-317-4794 or submit the form below!