COVID-19 Has Broken the Equilibrium of Contact Centers: Here’s How to Restore It

by | Jun 2, 2020

COVID-19 has had an incredible impact on businesses around the world. Contact centers are no exception. The pandemic has drastically increased inbound call volumes, reduced manpower and call center resources, and broken the equilibrium carefully fine tuned and balanced by contact center managers. As we begin to adjust, adapt, and reopen after COVID-19 peak, digital solutions and modern automation can help rebalance the scales of contact centers quickly and efficiently.

“The pandemic has drastically increased inbound call volumes, reduced manpower and call center resources, and broken the equilibrium carefully fine tuned and balanced by contact center managers.”

Breaking The Equilibrium

Contact center managers have become experts at balancing the constant pull and shift of changing inbound call volumes with the need to efficiently deploy resources and have the right amount of reps working at any one time. Predicting the amount of staff that will be needed in the future is a difficult task, but managers had been succeeding before COVID-19 broke the equilibrium. The unprecedented and unpredictable impact the pandemic has had on the industry has caused chaos.

Lower contact center capacity and increased inbound call volume means call centers are being overwhelmed by the demand of COVID-19. Many callers are having longer than average calls as well, straining contact center resources even further. Even the best managers can’t keep up with current demand. To bring the balance back to the contact center and begin operating properly again, modern call centers must begin implementing digital, automated solutions. By deflecting excess calls to automated solutions, contact center managers can relieve the stress burdening their agents, restore the equilibrium of their call centers, and deliver the kind of CX today’s customers expect.

Restoring Balance

Self-service may just be the perfect answer to this situation. When contact centers know which call types are most impactful, they can deploy automation and self-service tools to make those prominent use cases faster, more convenient, and less stressful for callers.

“To bring balance back to the contact center and begin operating properly again, modern call centers must begin implementing digital, automated solutions.”

Modern Visual IVR solutions deliver self-service automation to callers on traditional voice IVR journeys. By identifying common call types bogging down agents and switching those calls to self-service, call center managers can quickly and easily deflect a large number of calls away from agents. Launched in just a couple of weeks and compatible with any back-end system Visual IVR is the fast, easy-to-use, self-service solution contact centers need right now.

Self-service solutions like Visual IVR contain excess calls and bring them to successful resolution without the need for live agent interactions. These modern automated solutions bring inbound call volumes under manageable levels for contact centers, helping them get rolling again. Self-service helps in various ways:

  • Addressing most frequent questions: Visual IVR deployed well can address the most frequent calls like information requests, update account information, or even change or cancel appointments, meetings, or trips.
  • Providing 24/7 service: Visual IVR reduces customer service pressure by providing service around the clock. A well designed AI or other automated solution can reduce live agent load in addition to answering questions during off-hours.
  • Increase CSAT: reduced AHT and increased first call resolution (FCR) means more successful customer experiences and increased convenience for customers already stressed out by the global pandemic and other factors
  • Live agent empowerment: strained under the weight of switching to WFH and faced with a wave of increased call volumes, agents assisted by integrated self-service tools can focus on the complex calls where their skills are most important
  • Control costs: with more and more calls being handled efficiently and effectively, contact centers can reduce waste and more accurately deploy resources where they’re needed

 

Repairing the Equilibrium

The current global pandemic is changing the way we all do business, but automated self-service technology is paving the way out of the chaos for contact center managers ready to lean into Visual IVR and customer service automation.

As contact centers continue to find their way through the current situation, reducing average handle time (AHT) and eliminating any time customers have to wait on hold with nothing to do is crucial to increasing efficiency and increasing customer satisfaction (CSAT). Modern self-service tools like Visual IVR mean customers get their questions answered immediately, don’t need to wait on hold, and calls that would have otherwise overwhelmed contact centers are deflected to successful automated channels.

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