How pandemic disrupted the contact centre landscape in India

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How prepared are contact centres now to adapt to the challenges that may come with new lockdown restrictions? The answer would be ‘a lot better’ than we were prepared earlier. There are certain ways in which many (if not all) contact centres have changed and will continue with those changes even when the pandemic is over.

What makes contact centres crucial for businesses. Firstly, regardless of nature and size, every business had to face the impact of the pandemic. As it was impossible for the customers to reach out to physical branches, contact centers were their source of delivering solutions.

Any business with a disturbed contact center meant it could lose the existing customer while struggling to gain any new customers. Secondly, the BPO sector (which depends mostly on call centers) in India is among the biggest employers. Disruption in the sector will mean a massive unemployment challenge.

Evolution to remote-first model

Traditionally, the contact centres rely heavily on the infrastructure as your need to empower each agent with a dedicated device, which is connected over a network in a way that can smoothly take customer queries.

Maintaining records of these interactions, real-time monitoring, and report analysis adds more to infrastructure dependency. Easily, contact centres were reluctant to work in a remote environment. The situation changed when the lockdown happened.

The move was sudden and contact centers had to offer remote options allowing agents to answer calls, chats, or emails using their personal devices. There were challenges such as setting up devices at the agent’s location and ensuring a reliable network connection is even more challenging than allowing managing sensitive information access.

Dedicated remote contact centre solutions not only solved these challenges of device compatibility, low network functionality, and access control but also gave them the comfort of onboarding talent from anywhere in the world.

With more than a year of working on these solutions, there is a massive shift in the mindset of decision-makers who are now more welcoming with the remote-first approach.

What’s driving contact centres towards remote working

Smooth and consistent operations

Nobody wants to compromise on the overall efficiency of the organisation. There are some tangible metrics (such as average call handling time, First Call Resolution Rate, etc) that every contact center wants to maintain in any situation

Working with remote agents over uncertain networks, you tend to feel smooth operations might struggle. However, remote contact centre solutions are capable of providing all the features of a physical contact center along with proper performance tracking.

The initial phase of transition offered some challenges, but with almost a year of experience with remote solutions, most contact centres have managed to meet or surpass their previous operational efficiency during the period.

Uninterrupted agent monitoring

An irreplaceable part of call center operations is monitoring the agents’ performance consistently. Most call centres find it tough to trust agents with their quantitative performance and quality standards. That is why they require real-time and uninterrupted monitoring, which traditionally was tough to achieve in the remote work environment.

Modern remote/mobile contact centre setups allow them to monitor features that provide detailed reports on agent performance in real-time.

Reduction in cost

Contact centres rely heavily on the infrastructure, which comes at a cost. Going remote helps you save a lot of those infrastructure costs, while the overall performance remains the same if not better. With the remote contact centers, you can reduce around 15 percent of the infrastructure cost. Along with that, it gives you more flexibility and customisation options, which is not the case with an on-premise setup.

Building better talent pool

In India, vernacular services in the contact centres play a crucial role for businesses with clients across India. While your contact centre may be located in Chennai (a Tamil-preferring region), you might still have to entertain customers from different regions (say Punjab, West Bengal, or Maharashtra) who prefer other languages (such as Punjabi, Bengali, or Marathi).

Hiring agents who are capable of interacting in languages uncommon in your office location region was a tough ask or an expensive venture. A remote contact centre enables you to hire agents from any location, which means you can hire agents from a native language-speaking region. Apparently, it gives you better quality resources and at more affordable salaries.

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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