Technology and Expertise to Collaborate in the Cloud
The COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly altered the way many companies are strategizing their call center staffing. There has been an acceleration of digitalization, and a rapid deployment of the cloud to support virtual teams. What does the future look like for call center staffing in the new normal, and what might it mean for hiring customer service positions?
Transitioning to the Cloud
We would expect a continuation of transition to cloud-based technologies. This will allow call centers to cut costs and employ technology that enhances customer experience.
The cloud will enable a future of call center employees who largely work from home, which in turn empowers companies to boost their call center capabilities with highly qualified, highly experienced staff who are more likely to answer complex problems faster and more effectively.
Examples of this accelerated move to the cloud include:
- The rapid deployment of cloud-based infrastructure is highlighted by Avaya, who announced in April that it had enabled 2 million staff members to work from home for more than 11,000 customers in just a few weeks
- The announcement by a Fortune 100 media company that it would be moving more than 10,000 customer service agents into the cloud via Talkdesk
Of course, such a transition will mean that businesses will need to consider how they can support workers who no longer work in an office environment. It may be that agents attend smaller offices one or two days each week, and these offices may become centers for training and team-building events (when social distance rules allow).
Transitioning of Jobs
Many industries have suffered because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sectors such as tourism, travel, transport, and hospitality have been hit hard. It is likely that companies in such business areas will seek to cut costs further.
Job transitioning will be enabled further by technology solutions. These technologies include AI, IVR, and voice bots.
AI (artificial intelligence) voice technology enables automated dialogue with customers and context to be measured to determine the best follow-up actions. Such systems can speed up the flow of solutions as well as direct more complex queries to dedicated and highly-experienced call center agents.
IVR (interactive voice response) allows systems to recognize queries from voiced answers and then direct these to agents automatically. The information that the customer has spoken is converted to text on a screen which the agent is able to access before the call is connected to them. This enhances the customer experience and reduces call time.
Voice bots can be used to carry out repetitive tasks that were once the remit of call center agents. Such tasks may include reminding customers of upcoming payments or to confirm appointments. They can also be used to perform surveys or to fill in pre-populated forms over the phone. Voice bot technology can be used for both inbound and outbound customer service tasks.
What Does the Future Hold for Call Center Agents?
As we move to a cloud-based, high-tech call center environment, it is likely that fewer call center agents will be employed. However, the agents that customer service teams employ are likely to deal with higher-level and more complex queries. Therefore, they may come from business-specific backgrounds, with extensive knowledge of specialized functions, services, or products.
It may also be that these expert agents work as freelance, providing services to more than one company through the cloud. They will not only need expert knowledge, but also good people skills and negotiation skills. Companies are likely to need to provide more autonomy in decision-making, too.
Efficiency, Safety, and Excellence of Customer Service
Enabling call center agents to work from home not only has the potential to improve efficiency, but also improve safety for customer service agents. Working from home is more convenient, and offers better work/life balance opportunities.
Of course, as well as the huge potential cost savings, companies who operate cloud-based call centers gain by being able to hire talent remotely. Today’s technology enables diverse and remote teams to operate as a unified unit as if they were under one roof.
You can hire the specific skills you need to offer your customers an enhanced experience in which they spend less time on the phone and receive more robust solutions without the need to repeat their problem each time they are transferred to a more qualified agent.
We would love to hear your thoughts about customer service and call center staffing in the new normal. To discuss your call center staffing needs, or share your thoughts with us, send us a message today.