2020 was an interesting year for contact centers managers. Driven by need, they had to restructure their business operations and adopt a whole new strategy. Going into 2021, managers have a new challenge.
They’ll need to consider what happens in a post-pandemic world. Will they adopt the changes permanently, or will they rethink their business models completely? The first step in making that decision is to understand the main service trends that we’ll see in 2021.
In this post, we’ll look at what those trends might be to enable firms to better prepare for them.
Work From Home Call Operatives
The switchover to a remote working model was a massive shift for the industry. Companies previously wary of the security and productivity implications of this action were forced to make the change. According to Call Center Helper’s research, only 7% of support companies will go back to business as usual after the pandemic. 9% said they’d adopt a fully remote model, and 84% planned to use a hybrid of the two.
For an idea of how that might work, we spoke to Viktoria Oliinyk, Chief HR Officer at SupportYourApp. She said that the company has been using a hybridized call center model since the start of the pandemic.
The team members at the company come in on alternate days to limit contact. The firm provided consultants with the equipment they needed to work from home. The tech team then went to great lengths to ensure that each team member had a secure way to access systems.
With proper precautions, the benefits of the work-from-home model are attractive. Companies may gain through:
- Reducing their office space requirements
- Improving productivity
- Increasing consultant satisfaction
A Sharp Rise in Available Support Technology
Technavio predicted that the support technology market would grow by $1,06 billion between 2019 and 2024. The market was already in an upswing with a compound annual growth rate of 15%. COVID-19 has substantially increased demand in this industry.
Clients, now accustomed to remote service options, will increasingly expect a better experience. Companies will need tools to manage productivity and consultant satisfaction actively.
Self-Service Options are Essential
Firms will need to up their self-service game. Clients are becoming more independent. They require a live support option for complex queries. For more straightforward questions, they expect to find answers on your website or to be able to access their accounts online.
Companies will provide support through online portals and supplement these services with AI-based tools. Firms will have to consider using chatbots as an adjunct to their traditional contact services.
Firms Must Optimize Their Technology Stacks
With so many new tools available, firms will need to ensure a clean workflow. They’ll have to create a clear strategy for the adoption of new software to avoid the company systems becoming a tangled mess.
Firms must ensure that data flows between the consultant and the company with minimal interference.
Adopting a Customer-Centric Approach
The customer experience will take on new importance in 2021. Client tolerance for mediocre service is lessening thanks to the tough competition in the marketplace. Firms not focusing on a customer-centric approach will feel the pinch the fastest.
Clients require flawless, personalized support options. Managers should bear in mind that they’re no longer competing against their direct competitors. Customers will now judge them against the best service they receive, even across different industries.
Increasingly Empowering Consultants
Over the last few months, firms learned that they could trust their consultants. Companies will, therefore, increasingly empower their teams to improve productivity and enhance service delivery. Client and agent satisfaction will improve as a result.
2021 will not herald a return to normalcy for contact centers. Team performance during the pandemic showed firms that remote working was a viable option. Firms this year will capitalize on this experience and streamline their operations. While some companies will revert to an in-office model, the majority will instead adopt a hybridized approach.
Technology will play an increasingly important role in this transformation. We’ll see more innovative solutions to facilitate better client contact and data processing. Tech will also play a more prominent role in the self-service arena.
Overall, the outlook for the contact centers post-COVID-19 is significantly different from what came before the virus.