Optimize Your COVID-Era Contact Center: Best Practices for Keeping Up with Demand

Kyle Smialek
Vice President, Operations
January 19, 2021

The coronavirus pandemic changed just about everything in 2020, and contact centers are no exception. 

In the mid-COVID economy, businesses must be prepared to not only handle uncertainty, but embrace it, responding to changes in demand and spikes in volume with 

  • Unprecedented speed
  • Unprecedented flexibility
  • Unprecedented performance

Challenges For Contact Centers In The New Remote Economy

COVID-19 forced a hard reset for the modern consumer. Processes that had been inching toward digitization were suddenly thrust there. Consumers that had often resisted virtual or remote options not only accepted them, but welcomed them as the safer alternative in a precarious world. While some systems may eventually return to “normal,” many will adopt a new normal in which the digital experience figures front and center. 

For contact centers, this shift requires a rapid reworking of standard operating procedures. As more activity moves remote, so does the need for more support. Retailers, for instance, have experienced a huge uptick in online shopping. Organizations used to supporting 15-20% of online sales must now account for 30, 40, or 50% higher volumes. 

Customers that used to visit physical stores to evaluate products, ask questions, buy things and make returns now perform all of those activities from their smartphones and laptops -- often with the help of a contact center. 

This trend will only accelerate during the holiday season, when typical spikes combined with COVID will magnify demand for contact center support. For many businesses, this influx will be hard to handle. It’s challenging to respond to such drastic changes in a timely way: 

  • You may not have enough agents, period, or not enough at the right time.
  • You may not have the right skill sets. 

If your contact center was predominantly voice pre-COVID, but now relies more on email and chat, the quality of support will go down. 

Similarly, if your agents used to primarily take orders but must now answer detailed product questions, customer satisfaction will suffer.

At the same time, the customer experience has never been more important. 

  • As consumers move more activities to remote channels, their expectations go up. 
  • Many people are also more resource-constrained, with less time and money to spend than they had before the pandemic, which makes them more discerning about where to invest. 
  • In a non-physical world, the person behind the phone contact, email, or chat is the face of the brand, and brand loyalty matters significantly in turbulent times

Contact centers that can’t adapt quickly to these changing circumstances will see the impact on their business: 

  • Long wait times translate to missed sales and unhappy customers.
  • Frustrating experiences weaken brand reputation. 
  • Customers that vent about their negative experience on social media create PR issues. 

As businesses become more digital, the contact center absorbs more responsibility for top- and bottom-line performance -- for better or for worse. 

How A Flex Contact Center Can Differentiate Your Business

Here’s the good news: contact centers can keep up, and in doing so, differentiate their business.

Shiftsmart enables contact centers to respond to volume spikes and market changes quickly and flexibly. Unlike other providers, Shiftsmart can optimize your workforce with both speed and quality. 

Shiftsmart makes it possible to add any number of trained agents within days to meet demand, then flex that workforce up and down as necessary on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. 

Whether you need to supplement your contact center with 20 agents for two weeks specializing in chat, or 2,000 agents for two months who can help customers with product questions, Shiftsmart can make it happen. 

With Shiftsmart, companies that rely on contact centers can turn challenges into opportunities. When your competitors struggle to keep up with demand, trust Shiftsmart to help you create a positive customer experience with a lasting impact. 

Learn more about how Shiftsmart empowers contact centers to handle volume spikes and deliver exceptional customer services: Read the solution sheet or get in touch

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