COVID Impact on Contact Centers

It’s been an entire year since the COVID-19 pandemic began, disrupting the way employees and companies work for potentially years to come.

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Many industries have been directly impacted by COVID-19. One of those industries effected is the BPO industry. When you think of contact centers, you imagine a multitude of people in an office taking calls all day. How could this environment thrive in the midst of a pandemic? With contact centers being the backbone of customer service, you’d be surprised to find that through turmoil and quick changes, this industry has actually come to thrive. Here’s how COVID-19 has made an impact:

When things began to shut down in March, it felt as if human connection had diminished. Contact centers revolve around connection to give you the best customer support experience possible. At the beginning of the shutdown, that connection was lost. According to an article by Wharton Magazine, a magazine focusing on networking and connections for students, a young man who desperately needed customer support after his credit card got stolen, found himself on hold for 8 hours, with no human contact.

As COVID progressed, the contact center industry began to adapt. The challenge was immense. How do you transfer all of these employees from large BPOs to their homes? Access to technology, efficient training and accessible communication. In March, at the brink of the pandemic, Education at Work was able to shift their student employees and professional staff to a work-from-home platform and make employee safety a priority.

Besides the fact that contact center employees are working from their homes, the industry has been impacted in a multitude of ways. According to Simply Contact, the number of calls will continue to increase during these unprecedented times. With the increase of stress in all areas of life, customers will be more reliant on contact centers to get them the help they need. There’s less and less in-person contact as this pandemic continues, which increases the need to contact customer service virtually, which leads to an increase in calls. With another lockdown in question, it’s easy to imagine that the call center industry will continue to be impacted in a multitude of ways, especially with the work from home platform.

There is now proof that at-home work is effective, according to the Harvard Business Review. They found during their study on working-at-home amidst this pandemic, that we are spending 12% less time drawn into large meetings and 9% more time interacting with customers and external partners. The physicality of having a center full of agents may not come back into play. We could see a shift where some employees work from home, and some in a center. According to Gartner Research, “pre-outbreak, nearly 7 in 10 (68%) customer service and support organizations worked from traditional call centers and less than 10% of staff worked from home. That is now flipped, going forward, 71% of contact centers will be remote.”

The industry has faced new challenges but it has also been positively affected. According

The main takeaway from the impact the virus has had on this industry is that even through adversity and challenges, this industry continues to thrive. BPOs have been able to send their employees home with the technology and tools for effective communication, there’s been an increased need for digital customer care, and there’s been positive outcomes in efficiency for the work-at-home platform. In the midst of a storm, contact centers have been able to readjust and reposition to continue to do what they do best, support customers in crisis when they need it most.