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Transforming your Contact Center during a Pandemic

Transforming your contact center, despite COVID-19, is possible. Discover how with the advice of our Senior Director of Customer Experience.

Transforming your Contact Center during a Pandemic

My Experience through the Current Situation

I came back from a vacation in the Dominican Republic on the 10th of March. Following my return, I was in self-isolation which lasted until the 24th of March. On the 11th of March, the day after my return, the news started to hit. On the 12th of March, I went to pick up my girls from school, too worried to leave them there with the ongoing situation. On the 13th, we decided to self-isolate completely until the recent developments that have allowed for a progressive deconfinement. Recently, SMBs have started or will start to reopen and are wondering how they will survive this global coronavirus pandemic.

Sports, ranging from activities for our children, as well as those on an international and professional scale, have been on hiatus. The hopes and dreams of many who have put in so much effort slowly faded away. Boutiques, salons, and restaurants have reduced their hours of operations, and some have gone as far as shutting down. People are stuck at home and are trying to find comfort where they can. Any little spark of hope, no matter what time of day, does a world of good in these difficult times. It is still ironic to see that this pandemic happened during the arrival of spring, a moment long-awaited by all, which symbolizes rebirth, the return to life. This year, spring was a little different…

Contact Center Realities during COVID-19

We see so many images of deserted cities. It seems like time has stopped and has created a void, becoming a source of anxiety, fear and loneliness. But today, I want to show you another reality: that of contact centers. They are deserted too. For the past weeks, my company has prioritized the support of all these contact centers. In order to deal with the virus, companies are forced to have their agents work from home in order to ensure the sustainability of services. I’d like to start by congratulating the IT organizations and teams who have to work tirelessly to orchestrate this change without affecting customers. They are currently, as the health sector, at the front. They prepare the environments so that the company continues to operate.

Transforming your Contact Center in 8 steps

Covid-19 is forcing us to live through many different scenarios, but we can say that it will have advanced technologies and push the companies towards transformation, not without pitfalls, to accelerate the transformation process or at least, towards working from home. We’ve been talking about this transformation for many years, yet organizations are having a hard time following suit. We have been saying for several years that change must be initiated in order to ensure the survival of businesses. To increase productivity and keep customers and employees engaged, contact centers must go digital and thereby add distribution channels and different ways of working. When the current pandemic is behind us, it will not be time to postpone transformation projects again. So here are the 8 essential stages of transformation:

Step 1: Create a Transformation Team

Be at the heart of the team! The stages of implementing a digital transformation can vary from one contact center to another. Certain steps must be considered before proceeding. Vision and commitment must come from senior management.

Infographic - Who should be part of your Transformation Team

Do not underestimate the management required that comes with change The most impacted by this change will be agents and customers. Here’s why:

  • Agents' schedules will be impacted.

  • Create test scenarios with your workforce management tool.

  • Consequences can be quite drastic if change management is not followed properly.

  • The human impact will be pronounced.

  • Training costs will be exponential.

  • Turnover rates will increase.

  • Customer and Agent management will increase.

Step 2: Your Customers' Profile

The second step towards this transformation is to understand customer demographics: you need to know the age groups of your customers in order to be able to determine the distribution channels that they are likely to use. Some age groups will prefer phone and email, while others will prefer chat and social media. This study will form the basis for providing the right omnichannel distribution channels. The Importance of Omnichannel According to a study by Retail Systems Research, the benefits of the omnichannel permit:

  • 15% increase in customer satisfaction.

  • 15 to 30% increase in average spending of your customer base.

  • 20 to 40% average increase when your customers use social media interactions.

  • 7% increase in customer retention as opposed to a 5% decrease without omnichannel.

  • 12 to 18% in budgetary savings in relation to customer service costs.

Below is a summary of the use of distribution channels:

Table - Differences between Chat, Telephone and Emails

Step 3: The Customers' Journey

The customer journey is the typical path a customer follows in his relationship and interactions with a company. How to achieve it:

  • Analyze a typical situation with a common customer and the common path usually taken.

  • Identify the most pertinent point (website, store, etc.).

  • Key moments in the relationship with the client in order to measure the best course of action.

  • Clearly define points of satisfaction (indicators, media, target, objectives…)

Table - What Channel your Customer prefers depending of their Generation

Step 4: Assessing the Proportion of New Contacts

Following the creation/completion of steps 2 and 3 (Customer profile and customer journey), you must correlate the data in order to assess the types of contacts based on complexity. The Complexity of Contact Types:

  • Technical issues.

  • Types of contacts used.

  • Complaints.

  • Account balance.

  • Etc.

Your Organization is the Key

  • Establish the right response time targets to minimize impacts. For example, an email not answered within the time expected by the client will generate a call, therefore 2 contacts rather than just one.

  • Integration of all customer contacts is very important, otherwise, the addition of new contacts creates a loss of efficiency and customer dissatisfaction.

Step 5: Choosing the Right Performance Indicators

For each type of contact, you must choose the proper performance indicators that can be linked and make sure that they have a correlation with each other. Take time to learn about new trends in performance indicators.

Step 6: Define an Action Plan for your KPIs

Your action plan represents the milestones that are required to meet your objectives.

  • They must be realistic.

  • The resources necessary required to meet your targets must be easily identified and available to all.

Monitoring your action plan

  • Deadlines set by objectives may require one or more follow-ups.

  • It is therefore important to document any follow-ups.

  • What progress is to be expected, and when.

After 3 consecutive follow-ups, if no improvement is observed, the action plan and the objective must be reviewed.

Step 7: Creating a Forecast for your Contact List

  • Excel now allows you to make forecasts based on several factors: Forecast based on triple exponential factoring. Excel uses trends and seasonality (values, trends and seasonality).

  • Forecast based on different calculations such as the low coefficient. Excel calculates a forecast value at a 95% confidence rating (the higher of the 2) low variation.

  • Forecast based on different calculations such as the high coefficient. Excel calculates a forecast value at a 95% confidence rate (the higher of the 2) high variation

  • For any additional help or information, do not hesitate in reaching out to me. I will be happy to assist you.

Step 8: Focus on your Resources

This is the last and most crucial step:

Table - Objectives and Strategies behind a Contact Center Transformation

It Will Be Okay

The current movement, "it will be okay" gives us hope, but also allows us to take the time. Take time, something we often forget to do, and which unfortunately will not be around forever. Let's use this pandemic to take the time to change things for the better. While you are having your morning coffee at home, take the time to make your transformation plan so that you will be able to come out bigger and stronger in the future.

Redacted by: Marie-Helene Savard - Senior Director, Customer Experience

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