Calabrio Study Finds That the Pandemic is Accelerating the Evolving World of Work for Contact Centers

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Results show most contact centers are embracing work changes and expect them to benefit the industry long term

Calabrio, the customer experience intelligence company, has released a study detailing how customer service organizations are evolving due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on a survey of contact center leaders, the findings point to a dramatic shift in how brands, through their contact centers and agents, now engage with their customers.

While crisis-driven changes can often have a negative impact, recent events have fostered a much-needed modernization of the contact center. “The State of the Contact Center: Embracing the Evolving World of Work,” study found that most contact center managers view the changes they were initially forced to make due to COVID-19 as positive steps toward building richer employee and customer experiences in the long term.

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“During the pandemic, contact centers became even more essential to a company’s success. Companies must now prepare to meet the challenges that come with this newfound spotlight,” said Tom Goodmanson, president and CEO at Calabrio. “The good news is that the pandemic offered important visibility into the strength of operations. Embracing the processes and tools trialed during the pandemic are expected to lead to more flexibility for agents, elevated service for customers and more intelligent, agile operations moving forward.”

The study surveyed U.S. and U.K. contact center managers to uncover perceptions about the changes accelerated by COVID-19 and identify expectations for the future industry landscape. The study includes results from leaders across retail, financial services, utilities, distribution, airlines and healthcare.

A primary takeaway from the study is that managers expect customer service practices to change for good due to the impact of the pandemic. Most are seeing customer expectations rise during COVID-19, rather than decline. They anticipate these new demands to continue, with 68% of respondents expecting customers to have an increased desire for emotional empathy in future interactions.

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According to the findings, 87% of managers believe the pandemic has placed greater weight on the contact center as a factor in, and measure of, overall company success. Due to this greater importance, managers anticipate a permanent evolution in operations. Examples include:

  • Remote-Agent Acceptance: Due to the pandemic, 89% of contact centers now have at least half of their agents working remotely. Most managers are happy about the changes with more than 70% saying they are satisfied with remote-employee productivity. They believe agents are happy working remotely, and they expect a remote environment to continue post-pandemic.
  • Mission-Critical Analytics: Looking ahead, 90% of managers are confident their use of analytics-based technology and insights will increase, as will cross-department demand for contact center intelligence. As customer expectations grow, it is vital to understand customer behaviors and needs, and that means increased dependence on voice-of-the-customer analytics and AI-based insights.
  • Rise of the Cloud: The prospect of an increasingly virtual, analytics-driven contact center will be dependent on the flexibility and processing power of the cloud. In fact, 89% of contact centers are likely to increase deployment of cloud software or are already fully cloud based.

“Contact center executives who have been dragging their heels rather than modernizing their contact centers now find themselves in a catch-up situation,” said Paul Stockford, chief analyst at Saddletree Research. “As the smoke clears from this crisis, how fast can we get ready for the next one? The industry needs to modernize and do it in a hurry. The cloud is no longer a novelty, it is an imperative for the future of the contact center industry.”

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