The coronavirus crisis forced many contact centers to temporarily close their doors entirely. Unable to engage with their clients in the ways they had been able to do quite literally the day before, they were left with a stark choice: do they give no service or do they give some service?  

Companies had to adapt fast, reconfiguring their customer service structure overnight. It wasn’t just commercial enterprises either; governments the world over found themselves in the same boat.

Organizations now had to do the unthinkable; emailing people, asking them to avoid calling, directing them online instead. Call volumes shot through the roof though and with only 10-20% of call-center employees typically working from home, there was a natural degradation in service levels and resulting poor customer experience.

With so many more customer services personnel forced to work from home, companies found themselves having to deal with some tricky situations. How do they manage home agents effectively when they have no direct visibility? Other obstacles included security concerns around customer information and complying with rules for payment processing.

Customer service teams have always been in an ongoing struggle to respond to the ever-changing landscape of customer expectations, but this kicked up a gear and became a battle.  No other business function has had to adapt and evolve more quickly.

It used to be the case that consumers would rate and rank the performance of an organization with only those from the same industry vertical. The consumer has been empowered and those days are long gone.

Consumers are instead adopting a vertical-agnostic approach to what they perceive as great service: no matter the company which delights or disappoints them, they carry the experience with them on all their client journeys. Standards in the customer service world are therefore now driven by the highest performing companies in the most advanced verticals. Period. No pressure then…

The thing consumers most value is their time. Consumers know businesses are operating in uncharted territory right now but even so, they only have so much patience. Enterprises need to pull out all stops to engage effectively, showing clients clearly that their loyalty is valued. And that it pays them to remain loyal.  Something as small as contact centers instantly acknowledging queries via an automated SMS can go a long way. As long as they have been acknowledged, most people are willing to wait.

Using messaging channels such as A2P SMS also satisfies those who prefer not to speak with an agent or navigate multiple menu options. Phone-based call centers have morphed into multi-channel contact centers, designed to improve customer experience. Customers can now communicate over the channels they feel most comfortable with. And all of this functionality does not come from a system enterprises can buy off the shelf – they are built by APIs.

Inherently flexible, the brave new world of APIs can help provide a services environment that reduces friction for customers, improving customer experience. The result is increased satisfaction and something that cannot be bought overnight or its power underestimated – loyalty.

In our increasingly connected and complex world, contact centers are becoming the interaction hub of the digital enterprise–responsible for support, interaction, education and data gathering.

With their special position seated at the crossroads of customers, channel and employees, contact centers have been leading the customer service evolution for decades. Post Covid-19, it is hard to say with certainty what the future contact center will look like.

What we can say with certainty though is that by integrating Mitto’s comprehensive suite of mobile engagement solutions, your contact center personnel will have the two-way communication channels at their disposal your customers feel truly comfortable with. And that will benefit all stakeholders.