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Pandemic Opening the Door to Contact Centre Revolution

MyCustomer | Cath Everett

Hastily implemented migrations to remote working may be less than ideal, but they do provide an opportunity for organisations to reappraise how they operate.

Many organisations around the world rushed to set up remote customer support teams in response to the COVID-19 lockdown - but while most of these hastily implemented migrations may ultimately have turned out to be less than ideal, they have provided employers with a good opportunity to rethink how they operate.

That's the message from Ian Jacobs, a principal analyst at Forrester Research, in his latest blog entitled 'Plan for the work-at-home contact center you want, not the one you were forced to build during this pandemic', as he puts a positive spin on the present crisis for customer service.

Noting that brands were "forced to hastily create jury-rigged remote work organisations processes, and technological approaches" he believes that at present almost no one considers the results of their present customer support operations ideal -- "after all, the goal was speed, not elegance," Jacobs notes.

However, he adds: "But by showing that even these ungainly organisations can provide at least a modicum of meaningful customer service, brands have opened the door to significantly increased remote-work-based contact centres."

But rather than simply replicate the structure, processes and operations of their former bricks-and-mortar facilities, he advises organisations to "start with a blank slate" and "analyse what has worked over the past month(s)" in order to take the best of the past and present and create something better for the future.

Questions they might like to ask themselves in this context include:

  • Were certain types of agents more successful than others?
  • Were certain types of communication channels more conducive to home working, such as chat conversations in which the customers cannot hear the dog barking?
  • Were certain types of recognition programs more effective at motivating newly home-based agents?
  • Jacobs adds that once the analysis is done, it is then time to "design the ideal remote contact center operation and start planning for it".


To help address the issues they are facing today though, Forrester has also released a 30-60-90-Day Covid-19 Response Plan for Customer Service, which covers the four pillars of contact centre operations - people, objectives, strategy and technology - that organisations need to tackle in the short- to medium-term in order to navigate the coronavirus crisis successfully.

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