CX Assurance Blog

COVID-19 Impacts on Contact Centers & Our Company

Posted by Alok Kulkarni | CEO

May 5, 2020

My heart goes out to everyone affected by COVID-19; these are truly challenging times. I wanted to share some helpful, data-driven industry insight gathered from our contact center customers, and some ideas of ways to bring teams closer together even as we’re forced to work apart.

COVID-19 has impacted everyone due to the lock-downs, resulting in Contact Centers being flooded with unprecedented call volumes. Enterprises have been forced to enable their contact center agents to work from their homes. The abrupt remote working arrangements coupled with unprecedented demand due to hot-button issues, such as travel cancellations, bill payment extensions and insurance inquiries, resulted in hold times increase by 34%1.

This disruption of CX leads to two major industry related topics surfacing in nearly every conversation I have with colleagues and customers: how COVID-19 is affecting on-premise versus cloud-based contact centers, and specific pressures that call centers are experiencing.

Effects On Cloud Vs. On-Premise Contact Centers

Organizations that have already migrated to cloud-based contact centers have been able to adapt rapidly to work from home. They’ve been able to focus on handling higher call volumes without the distraction and errors that come with hurried deployment of new platforms, policies, and protocols.

In 2019 two-thirds of contact centers were either already cloud-based or in the planning process – I predict that as we move forward, this pandemic will enable CIOs to mandate a faster transition to the cloud than perhaps many companies had planned due to now obvious reasons:

  • Better workforce elasticity from a more easily scalable solution
  • Greater levels of availability, reliability, and disaster recovery
  • Increased agent productivity derived from advanced features available in modern, cloud contact center solutions
  • Faster deployment of new capabilities
  • Reduction in real estate costs
  • And most of all, enabling business continuity

An unexpected consequence of leveraging remote agents working from home has been the discussions around bringing back contact center agents on-shore rather than off-shore for business continuity benefits with reduced real estate costs. It will be interesting to see the progression of this trends in the coming months.

Specific Pressures that Contact Centers Are Experiencing

Being a technology agnostic, SaaS automation software platform that provides assurance and production monitoring for customer experience, we got a unique first-hand view of the pressures faced by contact centers.

38% of our customers began meeting or exceeding their call monitoring capacity, and we started to receive requests from clients asking for help. Our platform revealed systems were failing under pressure, and connections were being dropped or performance was degraded, as highlighted by a recent Wall Street Journal article:

“Many customers who call the hotlines of airlines, retailers and financial-services firms, among others, encounter hours long wait times, hearing recorded messages saying help is currently unavailable. Some companies ask that customers manage their issues online or suggest that they hold off on seeking assistance altogether.”

A year-over-year comparison of March 2019 vs. 2020 call data, saw alarming connection rate drops specifically for our customers in many industries who were hit the hardest, like finance, government, and insurance.

This data illuminated a way we could help. We launched a complimentary call monitoring program, providing continuous, simulated testing to ensure that toll free numbers were live and IVRs were answering. If Cyara’s software detects errors, automatic notifications are sent to operations teams, allowing for faster issue-resolution.

We’re grateful to have found a way to help our customers and the community. We continue to seek opportunities where we can lend a hand. If you know of a contact center who could benefit from our complimentary monitoring service please let us know.

Changes We've Made to Cope with the Crisis

As a software company with a primarily SaaS offering and a workforce already made up of roughly 65% remote workers, we were somewhat used to working remotely however the lock down has meant even we’ve had to adapt to the new reality:

  • Being sensitive and helping customers: We’ve tried to ask what we can do to be helpful to our customers and colleagues. I’ve received my share of unsolicited, unqualified, annoying outbound marketing emails. It surprises me how we still receive tone-deaf marketing campaigns.
  • Adopting remote work security best practices: Enforce the use of meeting room passwords, regular software updates and avoid Zoombombing.
  • Getting creative to keep morale up: We’ve opted to have our videos on by default during conference calls, organizing remote social hours e.g. cooking classes, a walk around the neighborhood and separating “work” from “home” hours even though right now, those two places are one in the same. Here are some good tips in the words of veteran remote workers.
Cyarans_On_Zoom
  • Accommodating flexibility in the working schedule: Being aware that many Cyarans may be working from home while also also trying to juggle to care or supervise children or loved ones. Recognizing this is a challenging time and accommodating a flexible work schedule.

In Summary...

Rarely if ever has our world so collectively shared an experience like this. I have been touched by the many stories of both heartache and positivity.

My hope is that you, your family, and your business stay healthy, stay positive, and help others when you can. And if there’s something Cyara can do for you, we want to hear about it.

1. https://tethr.com/blog/navigating-cs-during-the-covid-19-crisis/

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