The COVID-19 pandemic has led to unprecedented changes in the workplace. Contact centers sent the vast majority of their agents home, providing them with tools that allowed them to work while respecting stay-at-home orders.
Today, the situation is highly varied. In some parts of the nation, reopening plans are moving forward. In others, spikes have required states to reconsider their approaches, at times even rolling back to previous phases.
While it isn’t clear what the “new normal” will be entirely, glimpses of what a post-pandemic contact center will look like are increasingly part of the paradigm. If you are wondering what the future may hold for your contact center, here’s what you need to know.
Combining Office-Based and Work-from-Home Models
One thing that the pandemic has proved is that telecommuting approaches can be viable. For many companies, after the initial growing pains associated with any major transition, their workforce ultimately remained productive.
Even as returning to offices is increasingly allowed, many contact centers will phase in the return of their employees. By limiting the number of workers on-site, social distancing requirements can be met, making the workplace safer for those who are in it.
However, work-from-home models won’t be abandoned. By allowing a portion of the workforce to continue telecommuting, productivity can remain reasonably high. Additionally, some companies may have discovered that some of their employees thrive while working remotely, and they may not want to lose that momentum, officially transitioning some agents into permanent telecommuting roles.
As a result, many contact centers are effectively embracing a hybrid workforce model. An increased emphasis on integration will become the norm.
Adjusting Technology and Real Estate
Initially, transitioning to a remote work model required speed. Companies didn’t have time to evaluate a slew of technologies, test processes, or otherwise refine their telecommuting approach. Since closing was mandated and there was no way to delay, many of the resulting systems were slapdash at best.
Now that time has passed, and lessons have been learned, contact centers can focus on adopting best practices and making critical adjustments. Adjusting technologies, policies, and procedures is a possibility, largely since the degree of urgency has dipped.
While many contact centers won’t make fast changes, changes are coming. For example, leaders can evaluate communication channels to determine which options worked and which didn’t, creating opportunities to bolster the offerings to support productivity.
Additionally, the agent experience will also get a hard look. During the early stages of the pandemic, functionality and business continuity were the priorities. Now that the required mechanisms to maintain productivity are in place, companies can consider other critical issues, like employee well-being into account.
The focus can shift back to ensuring the agent experience is conducive to an improved customer experience. That way, as the post-pandemic world begins to develop, contact centers can be functional, supportive, and productive, creating an ideal environment for everyone to thrive as each and every person begins to embrace the new normal.