It’s always difficult to predict trends, especially during uncertain times. However, we’re willing to bet that this contact center trend — resiliency — will be seen across all industries.
COVID-19 reminded us that bad stuff happens quite regularly. Crises do occur. And they will happen more frequently in the coming century, as natural forces and increasing disparity combine to drive systemic ecological and societal change. Contact centers need to be more resilient before the next crisis.
Resiliency Will Be A Major Contact Center Trend Next Year
Most contact centers realized that they could have avoided unnecessary stress if they’d been proactive about upgrading technology and building more resilient systems.Most contact centers could have avoided unnecessary stress if they’d been proactive about upgrading technology and building more resilient systems. #cctr #cloudcctr #covid Click To Tweet
“Bad companies are destroyed by crisis. Good companies survive them. Great companies are improved by them.”
— Andy Grove, EX-President, Intel Corp.
Businesses and contact centers that create resiliency can anticipate, react, and recover faster and more comprehensively than those that don’t. This chart from hbr.org shows you how that plays out in a crisis event:
The Six Principles of Resilient Systems
Every business is different, but we can use these principles to find the areas of our business that need addressing.
Building redundancy into your contact center systems is essential for resiliency. It means creating buffer systems and fail-safes against unexpected failures. Commercial airplanes can fly with as little as 1/4 of their engines running. Your contact center needs to be able to continue to operate in the event of a serious incident such as a fire, natural disaster, or cyber-attack.
Diversity is essential to resiliency. Animals and plants that don’t have enough genetic variety are at far greater risk of total extinction. Diversity creates resilience in living organisms, populations, and ecosystems like your contact center. In a contact center, this means hiring different people, operating on other channels, and building an environment that fosters creative thinking.
A prudent organization believes in Murphy’s Law: i.e. anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Being careful means developing contingency plans. It also involves regular stress tests. #cctr #resiliency Click To Tweet
Modularity is one way to help create redundancies in your systems. It allows individual elements or processes to fail without the whole business collapsing. That comes at a price though, as modularity makes you are less efficient. But breaking up your departments into modules makes them easier to manage and quicker to put back together after a crisis.
Most contact centers realized that they could have avoided unnecessary stress if they’d been proactive about upgrading technology and building more resilient systems.
Adaptability requires some level of diversity and modularity. Adaptive organizations create processes based on flexibility and learning rather than consistent, stable processes and outcomes. They make the space for people to innovate rather than focusing on strict adherence to a particular way of doing things.
A prudent organization believes in Murphy’s Law: i.e. anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Being careful means developing contingency plans. It also involves regular stress tests and ‘fire drills’ for the most significant risks, which you can determine through scenario planning.
Embeddedness is the degree to which an organization is influenced by the social or cultural environment in which it occurs or exists. Your business must be aware of its role in the ecosystems it belongs to, so that it doesn’t accidentally disregard or oppose them.
What Does a ‘Resilient’ Contact Center Look Like?
This is the question that many contact center executives will be asking in the coming months. The truth is, we don’t know yet, but we do have some ideas. One thing that’s certain is that a resilient contact center is not confined to four walls.
Better Integrated Technology
Technology is what has made our society resilient enough to survive this pandemic. Use it to bolster your contact center and build resiliency into your contact center.
“The lasting impact of COVID-19 will be a shift towards embracing technology solutions that remove friction (i.e., waiting in queue, customer authentication, interaction history availability) in a customer’s journey over hiring additional agents.”
Find systems that ‘play’ nice with others. Use technology that integrates seamlessly with your existing stack instead of finding a workaround or using a more basic version. And reduce the number of windows and screens your agents need to use!
Omnichannel deployment makes sense because your phone lines aren’t always full. Why not have agents respond to email or chat requests? And the better integrated your platforms are, the more efficiently you can resolve tickets.
“Businesses showed amazing resilience in pivoting to a distributed model. They increased their reliance on data to stay situationally aware and effectively manage their CX. In 2021, leaders must continue to find better ways to manage and coach their distributed teams, which will require reliable, real-time analytics.”
More Flexible and Efficient Workforce Management
Better integration also means better internal integration. Eliminate silos to make communication between departments easier. A hybrid workplace is more likely to be the norm post-pandemic, and for a good reason. It’s a far more resilient approach than putting all your eggs in one basket.
“The other big trend that will continue in 2021 is the rise of cloud contact centers to support remote agents. One of the biggest benefits of remote agents is the ability to hire the best agents, not just those who are local and live within commuting distance of a call center.”
As society becomes more virtual and dispersed, so must your contact center. There are very few reasons not to have at least half of your workforce remote in the long-term. This will allow you to take advantage of a broader range of agents and provide a more comprehensive service.
Agents with Broader Skillsets and Permission
Multiskilling your employees so they are omnichannel can also improve the customer experience. With the right technology, agents can move across channels to continue to serve (or call-back) a customer as needed. They’re fully empowered to help the customer and take pride in seeing a ticket through to resolution.
“The pandemic will have lots of lasting impacts. If I had to pick one, it would have to be “immediacy” – the need to be available to engage at whatever time and in whichever channel the customer chooses. This applies to CX engineering, management, and measurement, and digital is the key enabler of this for both bot and person-to-person interactions.”
Plan for the Next Crisis Now
Just as many people will see the next crisis coming, as did this one, the hope is that more of us will be prepared to listen.
If the pandemic made anything clear, it’s our responsibility to create contingency plans and test our emergency response strategies for the next one. We are an essential lifeline for our communities and customers, and we need to be better prepared in future times of need.