In the first of a three-part series, Steve Bell, Vice President EMEA Solutions Consulting, Verint reveals how the cloud is helping forward-thinking organisations to innovate new approaches to customer engagement during the COVID-19 crisis.
2020 was the year the world disengaged. The year in which people’s lives and business strategy were upended by social distancing, working from home, lockdown and indeed tragedy.
Amongst all the fear and doubt arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, however, there was hope. As lockdown loomed, organisations rapidly rallied new ideas – innovating new ways of engaging remotely with customers and staff in order to maintain the customer experience momentum.
Necessity, after all, is the mother of invention.
As staff shifted to home working, contact centre operations faced a difficult challenge in delivering continuity. An operating model that relies on the close working and proximity of teams became virtualised almost overnight. The scale and nature of demands from customers transformed at equal pace and agents needed to be informed in order to cope with a whole different range of enquiries.
There are many amazing stories of how contact centres have adapted to operating in this pandemic – and two fundamental factors stand out that we want to share. First: businesses can adapt far faster than they ever imagined was possible. Second: the innovative use of technology can drive greater agility.
Over recent years many of our customers have transitioned to cloud-based solutions, a strategy that proved invaluable in helping them to adapt quickly to the crisis. The inherent ‘virtualisation’ of cloud-based applications means they are not dependent on physical location, and this allowed these customers to switch to effective home working almost overnight.
However, it is not simply the foundation technology that has enabled contact centres to adapt. The capabilities of the applications they use are also enabling a step-change in performance.
Transforming Contact Centre Management
Contact centre managers and supervisors rely on ‘walking the floor’ to understand what is happening across their operation. With agents now remote, it is essential they have effective tools in place to monitor quality, understand demand and ensure they manage resources to meet customer expectations.
One of our customers, a leading finance and administration outsourcer, needed to quickly transition agents to home working while responding to a 50% increase in inbound calls relating to COVID-19. Within 48 hours we were able to support the virtualisation of agents. Moreover, by leveraging our workforce management solution, the organisation was able to re-align agent shift patterns to meet customer demand while supporting agents to balance their work and personal challenges.
Our quality management and speech analytics solutions have also proved invaluable in ensuring that contact centres maintain the quality of the customer experience with remote agents. The ability to review every call and flag those instances where interactions have been challenging have helped supervisors gain the understanding they need of changing customer needs and to focus support for those agents who need it.
Empowering Agents with Knowledge to Help Customers
In most contact centres we take for granted the ability for an agent to quickly ask their colleagues for help when dealing with calls or to quickly gain support from their supervisors. However, when working from home this essential lifeline is removed.
We have found that customers using Verint Knowledge Management have been able to quickly support their agents and empower them with the knowledge they need to respond to customers.
Our customer The Very Group, for example, relies on the Verint Knowledge Management platform they brand ‘KEVIN’ to support agents. “KEVIN has been imperative over the last few weeks, ensuring our advisors have the latest information to deal with customer queries effectively and provide customer assurance,” the customer commented.
A similar situation emerged from BMW, which has been using Verint Knowledge Management to support their customers online. “Our Online Genius is a massive help to our operations in the current circumstances, enabling us to provide consistent and up-to-date information to customers through web self-service,” said the BMW team.
Managing Customer Expectations Beyond the Contact Centre
It is not just the contact centre facing pandemic-led challenges. Many back-office functions have also had to adapt to a new way of working while simultaneously experiencing a significant increase in demand. The consulting and digital services provider Capita, for example, is using Verint Work Manager to cope with the shift from 5% of staff across India and the UK working from home pre-pandemic, to 97% today.
The Verint Cloud arms them with the business intelligence and operational transparency to help managers and individuals remotely improve their performance and achieve their goals.
The net result is that Capita has maintained its positive net promoter score (NPS) throughout the crisis. Capita’s John Barker explains, “Thanks to Work Manager’s workload balancing, forecasting and planning, and productivity monitoring functionality, all customer demands are currently being fulfilled in less than 10 days despite the significant disruption. Meanwhile, 100% of customer calls are being answered in less than 120 seconds. As a result we’ve been able to maintain our positive NPS and customer satisfaction throughout.”
The COVID-19 story is far from finished. However, every day we are hearing stories of how organisations are adapting and leveraging technology in smart new ways to deliver important services to their customers.
In a disengaged world, we are proud of the fact that we can help our customers to engage with their customers and employees in new, effective and exciting ways.