In my previous post, I talked about the urgent planning responsibilities facing every customer service manager right now. That’s a lot trickier than it sounds. Planning now, in the middle of an unprecedented pandemic, for a future that includes a number of unknowns… well, it’s not for the faint of heart. COVID-19 has upended many of the business practices that we took for granted.
Like everyone else, I wish none of this were happening. But, as we all work our hardest to help reboot the economy, I’ve noticed this: it’s more productive to focus on the lessons we can take from all this. As COVID-19 destroys the old paradigms, it forces us to build something that is not just a substitute for what we used to do, but something exponentially different and dramatically better than the way we used to do them.
For customer care call centers, that means taking a clear-eyed look at how to build high-performing teams of happy, engaged agents, meet and exceed customer expectations, and redesign the operation for maximum scalability and cost-effectiveness.
In other words: it’s time to ask whether your current technology, systems, and infrastructure investments can ever work in a post-COVID world. Before all this happened, most brands saw digital innovations nice-to-have’s for the future. But the future is now and here are the first lessons we can learn from it.
- Your Customers Are Never Going “Back to Normal”
They’re hurtling into the next normal. And so are you. The brands who accept that uncomfortable fact will be able to move more easily into that next phase. If you’ve resisted investing in the technology, systems, protocols and expertise that can truly support a scalable, at-home workforce, you’re now under enormous pressure to mount a revolution within your own company, just to keep up. Right now, your customers are not only adapting to their changing world, their creating a whole new set of expectations that include both technological efficiency and human engagement.
- Your Customer Care Agents Can’t Come Back to Headquarters
But to deliver on your brand promise and delight your customers, while working from home, they need to be well trained, well supported, and happy on the job. You can’t bring them that without the right systems in place. You’ll need intelligent automation and the right team to make it work. For example, at Skybridge Americas, we employ conversational AI to make intelligent, seamless use of IVR, chatbots, and human agents. Calls are directed according to the customer’s needs and can be redirected to a live agent, if those needs change mid-call. It will be critical for every customer care operation to invest in this kind of human-centric customer care, supported by smart technology. But the window for choosing your approach is rapidly closing.
- It’s Time to Evaluate The Best Next Technology
For many brands, outsourcing will be the only step that makes sense. Going forward, it just won’t make sense to make the financial and staffing leaps necessary to be ready for the next normal in their customer care operations. But choosing the right outsource customer care provider is a little more complicated than it might appear. While many outsourcers can say today that they staff at-home agents, the truth is, many of those companies cobbled together a temporary at-home strategy to deal with COVID-19. That’s a band-aid, not a solution. As you examine solutions for your brand and your customers, it will be critical to dig deeply, learn how long they’ve staffed large-scale, at-home teams, and exactly how they will transition your customer care to at-home. Expect to hear vast differences in how various outsourcers respond. Those differences matter.
As we all move together, out of the crisis and toward our next normal, customer experience, employee experience, scalability, and cost management will matter more than ever – and require different approaches than before. If you would like to know more about how Skybridge Americas can help you rebuild a better future, please reach out. We would love to talk.
Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing
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