Corporate America has been steadily shifting toward remote work models in recent years, but the Coronavirus crisis has sped things up considerably. With millions of Americans unable to get to the office, telecommuting isn’t just popular today – it’s necessary to continue doing business.
A recent Gartner study revealed the number of remote workers has increased significantly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Approximately 30% of employees worked from home on occasion before the crisis, but that figure jumped to 41% due to recent events. Some organizations have embraced remote work arrangements more readily than others — almost half the businesses Gartner surveyed stated that more than 80% of their staff are now working remotely.
Because conditions have changed so quickly, companies haven’t had time to prepare for this new normal. Many are racing to keep up and support remote workers with whatever tools and resources they need. Contact centers are a particular concern, given the expectation to consistently provide exemplary customer service, regardless of what’s going on in the world.
With the right approach and technology, companies can keep their call centers firing on all cylinders and create a better customer experience during this transition.
Take the Strain Off Remote Workers With Intelligent Chatbots
COVID-19 has impacted just about every industry and organization, disrupting normal operations, straining resources and compelling employees to do more with less. Health care providers, airlines, banks, retailers, and other businesses are inundated with calls from customers looking for insurance coverage information, refunds on canceled flights, updates on delayed orders, and much more. The Wall Street Journal reported that United Airlines has seen its contact center call volume double since the pandemic began.
Complicating matters is the fact that many customer support agents are working from home using devices and networks that may not be optimized for massive surges in call volume. Inundated with calls, representatives may try to cycle through caller questions and complaints as quickly as possible, with little regard for the overall customer experience.
Companies can take the burden off agents’ shoulders by using intelligent chatbots. AI-enabled virtual assistants can answer questions, process transactions, and provide customer support without needing a call center representative to step in and find a solution. That, in turn, can help lower call volumes for remote call center agents.
The latest AI-driven chatbot platforms are better equipped to recognize user intent when interacting with customers, so they can respond appropriately to questions. Virtual assistants can provide a wide range of information for customers, including account details, insurance coverage options, refund statuses, order updates, and troubleshooting tips.
With that extra support, your remote workforce can breathe a little easier. Not to mention, customers are able to get quick answers to their questions and address problems without needing to pick up a phone.
Put Actionable Information in Your Agents’ Hands
High call volumes, frustrated customers, and limited resources make a dangerous combination for contact center agents. Everyone’s at least a little bit on edge right now, and customer support representatives need to be careful not to upset callers by saying the wrong thing. Asking customers to repeat a bunch of information they’ve already given to virtual assistants, call tree programs or other agents will only frustrate already anxious callers and create friction.
Customer service automation pulls relevant information from previous interactions and updates call logs in real-time. When calls are transferred to contact center agents, all that information is at their fingertips. There’s no need to ask a customer to walk through their problem or question again because it’s all laid out on the agent’s computer screen. Your customer support teams can work faster and be more productive whether they’re in the contact center or working from home.
Intelligent virtual assistants go a step further, providing questions and answers to those questions that call center agents may not know off the top of their heads. The system can even update customer-facing mobile apps and digital portals in real-time while the users are talking to customer support. With AI-enabled customer service automation, both the agent and the customer enjoy a better, more streamlined experience.
Support Your Remote Workforce From All Angles
Recent events have forced organizations to rapidly deploy remote work models, and in many cases, that means piecing together a telecommuting strategy on the fly. There are plenty of elements that go into successful remote work setups – technology, connectivity, organizational culture, etc.
Above all else, companies need to support their remote contact center teams during these trying times. Heightened stress and anxiety are major concerns while the coronavirus pandemic continues, and the more support that organizations can offer their agents, the better off everyone will be.
To learn more about finding the right remote work approach for this or any other crisis, tune into our on-demand webinar, Know Your Blind Spots. Deliver Consistent CX With Your #WFH Call Center.