Passing the Test: Cloud Agility, Cultural Resilience in the Age of COVID-19 Contact Center Shifts
Operating contact centers and developing CX innovations has never been easy. I’ve been in this industry for three decades, have been CEO of three CX related businesses, founded, built and sold a virtual contact center business, have run large portions of two of the world’s largest and most successful contact center BPOs in the world (TTEC and Sitel), and today am leading the Strategy and Consulting group at Eventus. While I have helped companies navigate through extremely challenging times – I never imagined a challenge as difficult as the one we’re in the middle of addressing today.
A global pandemic of this nature and size is a catastrophic event that is unlike localized natural disasters because it impacts every region, every country, every community, business, family, and individual in the world. While we have been able to shift resources in past crises to adapt to circumstances that are relatively contained, for this crisis global enterprises are being forced to react first and now plan more broadly than ever and do so in real-time.
Working with the talented, hardworking and visionary team at Eventus, like so many companies, we’ve had to adapt to ensure our employees are safe and can work productively from home, including the agents who are the lifeblood of our Managed Solutions business. The minute we saw this coming, we began planning and were fortunate in that we have so many experts and so many communication and collaboration tools in place that we were able to transform how we worked overnight.
With our own experience to guide us, we engaged immediately with our Clients and partners to understand precisely what their challenges would be, depending on their industry and their circumstances. We looked across all the categories and geographies we address – including healthcare, healthcare insurance, government agencies, communications service providers, retailers, e-commerce companies, hospitality brands, consumer packaged goods, and more – to help our Clients quickly analyze and assess their options.
With our own crew Working at Home (W@H), we were able to successfully engineer the implement the move from physical contact centers to W@H agent-based distributed platforms, with tools including ensuring, digital communication platforms, digital learning solutions, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), workforce management tools, access to databases and applications, and of course authentication and security solutions to keep our Clients’ businesses flowing. Working through weekends, working overnight, and working closely in concert with our Clients, we successfully transformed their ability to serve customers – so successfully, in fact, that where some Clients were cautious to move to cloud-based services, it became evident that modern approaches really do work!
Keeping our Clients operating was even more important than ever given the influx of inbound inquiries, whether voice calls, chats, or other messaging channels – driven by the confusion caused by COVID-19 events.
Imagine the volume and intensity, the concern, and emotions when it comes to:
- Healthcare: where can I be tested?
- Healthcare Insurance: is my family covered?
- Government Agencies: how can I receive unemployment?
- Consumer Banking: where is my stimulus check?
- Commercial Banking: can I apply for a government loan?
- Travel: can I cancel my flights?
- Hospitality: can I cancel my hotel rooms?
- Retail: can I have food delivered to my home?
- E-commerce: Why is my order of masks and hand sanitizer late?
- Education: when will schools be open, and how will my children be taught?
The list goes on, and those responsible for managing Contact Centers and CX not only have been affected by requirements to ensure their own employees are safe, and their physical locations are reconfigured, but the volume and the content of calls continues to shift dramatically as information about the virus continues to unfold.
While the Eventus team, and our Clients, have never worked harder, we have been energized by the ability to conquer the challenges that have made 2020 a year we will never forget. We are proud to have responded with great creativity, agility, and determination – and while we recognize there will be more difficulties ahead, we truly believe that there is nothing we cannot achieve when we put our not only our minds but our hearts into the effort.
What gets us up in the morning is the opportunity to make a difference – opportunities to make a big difference – and when we do so we feel even more empowered to take on transformational work, even when we find ourselves in the middle of a complex hurricane with implications to human lives, the economy and our kids and grandkids futures.
Agility – perseverance – the flexibility to try new things – innovation in technology and human behavior – this is what is growing in the midst of so much tragedy, and never have I been more proud to be in this profession, to be part of the Eventus team, and to have the chance to help our clients – and their customers – prevail.
Things will never be the same – they will, in fact, be better because we are responding with vision and actions that are vital in all good ways.
It can be hard to fathom a life without customer service in it. Before remote desktop support, live chat and other contact center solutions, there were complex phone trees and outsourced call centers and before that there were buggy IVR systems and telephone switchboards connecting you to the store you purchased the product from.
The past few decades have seen the business world sway multiple times between call center outsourcing and internal call center operations.