In my last blog I argued that we are not about to witness the death of the contact center because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Customer service strategy and how contact centers operate will certainly change, but we will still see companies using contact centers to deliver customer experience - as a part of the wider solution.
In this blog I want to extend that discussion, to think a little more about what will change and what might accelerate because of the pandemic. I’ve had a look around at what market watchers and analysts are saying, but really there is very little detailed analysis yet. Most of the analyst comment on the future of the contact center is still from before the crisis so these are mostly my own opinions, but backed by experience. Maybe the analysts will start quoting me?
There are several changes that I believe will take place in the near future. We are still in the crisis period where almost every team member has adopted the work-at-home-agent (WAHA) model. There will be an interim phase after the crisis before a vaccine is widely available for COVID-19. This period will allow businesses to restart after the widespread lockdowns, but consumers will remain cautious and may change behavior - intermittent social distancing may still be required. Finally there will be a return to some normality when COVID-19 is no longer any more of a threat than similar viruses.
I predict that there will be some changes to contact centers and CX strategy generally, but there will also be an acceleration in the use of technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), chatbots, and smart speakers. Here is a list of some of the changes and developments I expect we shall see:
As I mentioned, some of these ideas are existing trends that will be accelerated because of COVID-19, but many are changes in the way that contact center strategies are designed. There is a greater need to spread business continuity risk, both to protect contact center employees and also to protect operations for clients. Working from home is certainly a part of the solution, but it is just one component of a wider strategy, not the complete answer.
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