Crisis in the Call Center (Part 3): With Coronoavirus It’s Crunch Time


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In the digital age, when we discuss business continuity we tend to focus on data security and privacy breaches. Disaster recovery takes on a whole new meaning when preparing for a pandemic. Call centers must assess their resilience in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. 

It is now known that

  • Employees are quarantined worldwide. How are your call centers coping? 
  • Much of your workforce is working from home. How will you train them? 
  • If your third-party vendors are unable to pivot, how will this lack of agility impact customer service? 
  • This is no time for caution. It’s crunch time. 

    With or without a business continuity plan in place, and a full 51% of organizations worldwide do not [PDF], now is the time for customer service automation

    What To Do When Time is Your Enemy


    The challenge for call centers during high-stress times is getting the job done and delivering great customer service consistently. Here are a few problems your call center agents face and what your business can do to resolve them. 

    Problem: No time to train. In an emergency, call volume goes up. Your Contact Center team enlists every warm body to take calls. You talk to your BPOs to increase your temp workforce. Your training time and onboarding are compressed. 

    SolutionCall center scripting. It’s not the scripting you have known. Today’s call center guidance is digitally intuitive and fully automated. Once you’ve segmented your customer interactions, your least experienced agents can handle basic interactions. 

    Problem: Long wait times. When customers are anxious the last thing they want to do is stay on hold. High call volume dictates longer wait times. And, with inexperienced staff or marginally trained temps, average wait time increases. Poor CX and NPS are the results. 

    Solution: When your average speed to answer is not optimal, think of ways in which you can engage your callers more effectively while they wait. You might have considered scheduling callbacks, but there are more effortless and innovative solutions you can quickly launch to ease the pain for your callers. 

    Why not offer visual IVR which can authenticate the caller, answer basic questions and perhaps offer out personalized next best actions, all while they wait for your next associate to become available? Coupled with a virtual assistant, a visual IVR can also uncover net-new challenges your customers are running into, eventually helping you run a more agile operation during times of crisis.  

    Problem: No time for errors. During extreme events, relying on outdated static scripts only adds to the confusion. Agents also need to watch out for regulatory, process, or legal requirements. As complexity grows so does the risk for making mistakes. 

    Solution: Use call center automation to surprise and delight your customers. Who knew that RPA could deliver the human touch! Overcome the robot-to-human design challenges in automation with UX design and conversational AI that puts people first. 

    Problem: No time to build it. When time is of the essence, you don’t have the luxury of submitting a work order to IT. 

    Solution: With intelligent agent engagement, your operations team can build any call center workflow they like. They can integrate people, processes and systems seamlessly. IT isn’t necessary for testing, versioning or deployment. Jacada’s call center scripting software ensures a robust and easy-to-maintain system. 

    Discover how UK-based Telefonica O2 simplified call center complexity with Jacada’s agent scripting software. 

    Prepare for the Best. Plan for the Worst. 

    Cicero (in or around 65 BC) wrote to a friend, “you must hope for the best.” In the modern era, this sentiment gained traction when an American author wrote, “Expect the best, plan for the worst and prepare to be surprised.” That about sums up the times in which we live. 

    Once the coronavirus medical epidemic abates, many businesses will be operating under a new normal. If this latest global crisis has taught us anything, it is that there is no more “business as usual.” 

    Organizations can embrace crisis as an opportunity — to be ready, to be agile and to serve at a higher level. Your customers expect nothing less. 

    Read Part 1 in the Series: How To Prepare Your Call Center for Coronavirus

    Read Part 2 in the Series: How To Combat High Call Volume During a Crisis

    Nicolette Beard
    As a former publisher and editor, I'm passionate about the written word. I craft content to help drive the autonomous customer experience (CX) revolution. My goal is to show call center leaders how to reduce the increasing complexity of the customer journey.


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