Emmanuel Macron hammered it out last night: we're at war. Drastically reducing the number of social contacts is the only way to slow the spread of the current pandemic and give our health care system time to adapt.
Even as the volume of requests increases, the processing capacity of contact centres is atrophied by containment measures and the closure of businesses. How can customer services remain available to their customers in this environment, and continue to provide the best possible service?
Exceptional circumstances, exceptional measures. Our country is currently adopting measures on an unprecedented scale to contain the spread of one of the major health crises of the 21st century. In this context, how can French companies be helped to overcome the containment barrier? And more specifically, how can customer services adapt to it?
(1) Widespread teleworking
Although it is obvious, the massive use of teleworking is imperative for all contact centers in France. At the time of writing this article (March 18), several testimonials on social networks seem to establish that all of the 300,000 telephone advisers in France have not yet been teleworked. However, in call centers with several hundred employees, face-to-face activity must be interrupted as soon as possible.
For a few weeks: make way for teleworking! Whether they have a professional telephone and computer, or can use their personal tools, the objective is to provide your employees with the keys to handle a maximum number of requests, even remotely.
Several basic tools used in many startups can help you. These tools often include a free version, and can be set up within your team in a few minutes. This article on essential tools for teleworking provides a good overview.
At calldesk, we use Slack (corporate messaging), Google Hangouts (video calling and conferencing), Loom (video recording and sharing), Google Drive (document sharing and collaborative work) and Notion (collaboration all-in-one application).
(2) Virtualized desktops
In this context of massive recourse to teleworking, your employees need easy access to their usual work software? Virtualized desktops (digital workplace) may be the solution for your company. The concept explained simply: to group all the software usually used by your employees on the same work interface, to which they can connect from anywhere.
This solution enables effective teleworking, and efficiency and security can be ensured remotely by your IT department. Among the players offering these virtual spaces are VMware or Citrix.
However, deploying virtual workspaces adapted to your current tools is an ambitious mission, difficult to achieve in just a few days. For many companies, the use of external solutions therefore seems unavoidable.
(3) Strengthen your teams with the help of voice agents
In this time of peak call volume, your team may not be able to handle all solicitations. When queue times skyrocket and customers are unable to get answers, they may receive more calls and solicitations, making the situation even worse. It is therefore essential, in these circumstances, to be able to identify and prioritise requests according to their importance.
A voice agent uses artificial intelligence to interact with your callers and automate the processing of their simple requests. The technology can be used to perform caller routing (IVR in natural language), pre-qualify requests before forwarding them to an advisor (to lower the LMD), or handle calls end-to-end.
As a result, human advisors receive less solicitation and can focus on critical requests. For more information on this subject, you can consult the (non-exhaustive) list of use cases that a voice agent can handle, or contact calldesk.
Many people were already teleworking full time before the current health crisis began. However, in a context where new laptops are out of stock everywhere, and where the implementation of generalized teleworking strongly reduces the productivity of your teams, it is possible to use decentralized call centers: this is the principle of homehoring.
Concretely, homeshoring is a call center solution based on the use of a network of telecom consultants working from home. Equally well adapted to the management of incoming and outgoing calls, this system can efficiently take over from your teams. Among the French service providers are Homeshore Service or Teladom.
(5) Outsourcing abroad
Already frequently used in normal times due to a lower cost than in France, offshore contact centers, located in particular in the Maghreb and Madagascar, can be another solution to manage the overflow of calls received by your company at the moment.
But for how long? Indeed, while a growing number of countries are closing their borders, asking companies to shut down preventively, or decreeing containment, it is feared that these partners will very quickly face the same constraints that we are already experiencing today in France. Nevertheless, this may be an interesting temporary solution.
In conclusion, most companies will certainly succeed in ensuring the continuity of their business by combining several of these solutions. Remember that in the current circumstances, the most important thing remains the health of your employees and their loved ones!