Last year saw more contact centres than ever migrating to the cloud. The motivation is obvious and the stats are plain: in April 2020, 87% of contact centres were making use of home workers, compared to 26% in late 2019.
As many agents spent the year managing work and handling calls from the kitchen table, it’s time for business leaders to take a step back and review the outcome of this massive, accidental business continuity experiment.
Are virtual contact centres here to stay?
While many shifted away from a rigid office working model before any notion of a pandemic, some contact centre managers have clung to the familiarity of maintaining a physical office with the hope that bricks and mortar workspaces will be part of the ‘new normal’.
However, those open to breaking the workspace mould for good may find that adopting an ongoing virtual model could have an assortment of benefits, not least the positive impact on customer service delivery.
The benefits of the virtual contact centre
Historically, concerns around productivity and security were cited by contact centre managers as the key inhibitors for adopting a virtual model. But with recent developments in technology supporting better resilience and data security for contact centres, and lesser distractions of agent home offices, nay-sayers were proven wrong during the initial months of the lockdown.
Businesses have seen the value of going virtual for the following reasons:
Access to a broader talent pool
Eradicating location dependency means prospective employees no longer have to be within commutable distance of your office. If your office is in the cloud, your team can work and collaborate from anywhere, meaning you can focus on hiring the best talent available to bolster your customer services teams.
Better handling of overflow calls
With a comprehensive virtual contact centre solution in place, administrators can implement a smoother overflow plan between sites and agents, helping teams to better manage high call volumes whilst working remotely.
Structuring according to specialised virtual teams
Segmenting agents into pockets of expertise could massively benefit your customer service strategy and is arguably made easier by adopting a virtual model. Allowing customers to instantly reach an agent with a skillset that best meets their needs means fewer call escalations, more efficient call handling and happier customers.
In addition to driving better customer satisfaction, you’ll find segmenting teams helps to streamline communications internally, ensuring employees aren’t distracted by irrelevant messages that don’t fit within their specialism.
The potential for 24hr cover
Moving to the cloud and adopting a fully virtual model means your business will benefit from better continuity, enabling better team flexibility for shift patterns. It also means the scope of your recruitment can go global, allowing you to onboard agents across different time zones to help you handle calls around the clock without having to pay a hefty bill for the office expenses.
Flattening the curve of call spikes
According to ContactBabel’s new Decision Maker’s Guide, 68% of contact centres surveyed have seen a positive impact on call spikes since virtualisation. With teams able to eradicate commuting time, be more reactive and flexible and build shorter, but more regular shift patterns, team leaders can provide more hands on deck to help manage calls around peak times.
The guide also reports that 58% of businesses now have a single virtual contact centre, compared 33% in 2010. Over the last 12 months we have seen the rise of the virtual contact centre and all of the benefits that came with it.
At the beginning of a new year, with the old challenges and new opportunities that brings, it’s time to scope out a plan to weave business continuity and resilience into a failsafe customer service strategy for 2021 and beyond.
Originally published Dec 16, 2020, updated Jan 16, 2023