What WILL the Contact Centre look like post-lockdown?
Pitch, Talkdesk, the South West Contact Centre Forum, and others, recently announced the results of a new survey. The research explores what the contact centre will look like “post lockdown” and covers insights from 102 contact centre leaders.
The study provides some crucial insights into the new landscape, with 77% of contact centres saying that 50% or more of their employees began working from home during the COVID-19 crisis. A further 62% said that if there was a second wave of the crisis, they would need to figure out how to manage homeworking better.
Understanding the major impact on the future of the industry and the current crisis, 83% of contact centre leaders said that they’re revising their Business Continuity Strategy or plan to address the possibility of further waves of COVID-19. Around 56% said that they believe they should use technology to better manage customer contacts.
The study also revealed that 40% of participants are now planning to invest in Communications with Remote Agents and Managers in 2021. The same number of respondents said that they would be investing in Remote Monitoring and Management technologies. A further 39% expect to invest in solutions for Artificial Intelligence.
Around 89% of the UK contact centre leaders in the study indicate that the COVID-19 crisis has changed the contact centre industry of the UK forever. 102 UK contact centre leaders at Director, Manager, and Department Head level offered insights in the June 2020 study, which came from Pitch, the South West Contact Centre Forum, ContactBabel, Call North West, and Talkdesk.
Before the COVID-19 lockdown, 80% of organisations claimed that they had a formal business continuity plan. Around 90% of these companies said that they were considering shutting down office buildings and operations. Another 92% said that communicating with employees was part of their plan.
During the COVID-19 lockdown, companies discovered that mental health and anxiety issues were the biggest concern for companies using work-from-home strategies. Around 66% of companies said that it had been a significant issue. Another 51% said that training was a concern, and 44% worried about managing contact volume.
To handle the COVID-19 crisis, around 79% of respondents invested in Employee Communications, including support from Zoom and Microsoft Teams. 34% invested in Contact Handling technology, 30% bought into cloud solutions, and 25% focused on online/digital solutions.
Following lockdown, the environment will continue to shift. By 2021, 35% of contact centre leaders believe that their contact centres will be homeworking, and around 27% believe that under a quarter of their contact centre employees will work from home. A further 58% said that they thought homeworking would be partly compulsory, and partly optional.
30% of the respondents in the survey said that mental health and anxiety would become more of a challenge next year. 30% saw training, and 21% considered managing multiple channels to be big issues going forward.
One positive result was that 89% of companies believed that they would be better prepared for a new wave of COVID-19. In terms of practical actions, around 73% of people said they’d be able to deploy a work from home model faster. 54% said that they’d be able to change the tech infrastructure. When asked what the working environment might look like in 2021, 57% expected to have a socially-distanced environment, while 35% planned for work from home.
According to CEO of the South West Contact Centre Forum, Jane Thomas, there’s a huge amount of uncertainty within the UK contact centre industry when emerging from lockdown. We don’t know what the customer contact centre will look like going forward. We also don’t know what we need to do better if a second wave of Coronavirus occurred.
The recent survey aims to answer some crucial questions for companies and point the way forward. Traditional contact centres have a higher risk of being hit by the spread of a health crisis. Due to social distancing and shelter-in-place orders, contact centres suddenly face the need to move agents into work-from-home models.
Talkdesk’s CEO, Tiago Paiva, said that cloud solutions are ideal for helping companies to remain agile and move quickly towards better business continuity. You can check out the full eBook now.