We have been "plagued" with the COVID-19 pandemic for about a year and a half. What have we learned? This article explores the impact of the pandemic on customer experience (CX) and key takeaways that can potentially help businesses.
Since March 2020, most of the world entered some form of lockdown. In hopes to control the spread of the virus, many countries limited and/or restricted the movements of their people. With the intent of preserving national health and safety, such restrictions do not allow employees from a variety of industries to enter the workplace, rendering them unable to perform their day-to-day tasks. Yet, their customers require help and support more than ever during these uncertain times.
At Gold Vois, we have observed some significant impacts of the pandemic on CX:
1. Cloud is crucial now, more than ever
A study by Calabrio, the CX intelligence company uncovered that the COVID-19 pandemic had accelerated the adoption of cloud contact centers across industries; suggesting that 5.3 years of digital transformation was crammed into the first half of 2020. They surveyed 273 contact center leaders and discovered businesses that adopted a cloud contact center within the past year believe they are leveraging their cloud investment to its fullest potential.
Source: Cloud Is Here. What's Next? State of Contact Center 2021
Companies that have adopted full cloud contact solutions have expressed confidence in their ability to adapt to changing customer expectations via implementing social channels, video conferencing, and other personalization tools. Furthermore, by contrast, full cloud contact solution adopters aren’t worried that technical infrastructure will be a limiting factor in their ability to meet customer needs in the near future.
2. Customers are more empathetic – but also more demanding
While customers generally understand the magnitude to which this pandemic has affected all industries, the expectation for businesses to provide pre-pandemic CX prevails. A survey by Freshworks on1,500 customer service leaders found:
Customer service managers have seen an increase in customer expectations since February 2020.
Customer service leaders say customers have become "more empathetic" since the crisis.
Experienced an increase in overall contact volume since February 2020 and expect it to increase further.
With circumstances and mandates constantly evolving and uncertainty looming, the first destination for customers to get queries answered will be contact centers. The conventional image of tightly packed desks with agents usually comes to mind. However, this is no longer practical with social distancing requirements or split work day schemes. With the surge in queries and lowered capacity of agents, how can companies hope to retain their customer experience levels?
Such concerns have led to a major shift in working remotely or work from home (WFH) using cloud-based contact centers. With a pure cloud-based contact center, all software and features are managed in the cloud and accessible to the agents via an internet connection. Meaning, there’s no need for agents to report to the office, unlike a traditional contact center.
Cloud contact center solutions such as GV Cloud CX or Genesys PureConnect for example, are able to support home/remote users. Such solutions not only enable full capacity business continuity but with pressure on keeping costs low, removing physical office rental delivers significant savings. Every dime saved potentially goes to securing the jobs of agents.
3. Living up to your businesses’ customer experience promise is extremely crucial
The brick-and-mortar method of communication is no longer viable for the foreseeable future, putting contact centers at the forefront of customer service. This has resulted in customers using alternate forms of communication, especially in the digital realm; e-mail, social media, and messenger apps are the current go-to point of contact for customers. The result of this variety of choices most likely brought upon mixed experiences. Experiences that need to be consistent.
Investing in technology such as an omnichannel contact center solution that allows a seamless and consistent experience may be the answer to the influx of queries from traditional and digital lines. Mapping out each customer’s interaction at any channel/touchpoint along with the ability to navigate between channels seamlessly eliminates the need to continuously recount inquiries to the agent. Ultimately, streamlining processes for a smoother, more efficient, and personalized CX.
The circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic are unprecedented. However, the way in which companies manage customer interactions at times of crisis will have far-reaching implications in the form of loyalty and trust in the future. The benchmark of CX will be measured based on how the businesses they frequent and depend on meet their expectations despite the changing business climate.