Contact centers reacted to COVID-19 quite well -- it's time to institutionalize best practices

As the pandemic continues, contact centers realize their solutions for work-at-home agents, talent and performance management and information security need revisions. They also realize that COVID-19 has made the current operational blueprints ineffective. Because of this, they need to comprehensively streamline their operational thinking and solution design.

I have had the opportunity to get up close and personal in managing crises at contact centers. In my view, most contact centers dealt with COVID-19 challenges with amazing tenacity and resourcefulness in solving for people, technology, and business continuity. They also reacted with a lot of agility in supporting client requirements despite lockdowns and shelter-in-place protocols. A lot of what has been done so far has been reactionary, however, and akin to short-term impact management. 

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As the crisis extends, contact centers realize that their solutions for work-at-home agents, talent and performance management, and information security need revisions. They also realize that COVID-19 has made the current operational blueprints ineffective. As a result, they need to comprehensively streamline their operational thinking and solution design. 

It is now time for contact centers to respond to the crisis 

Now is the time for contact centers to build brand-new operational blueprints. For this, they must borrow best practices from current crisis responses and bring renewed attention to how they solve for their core assets: people, process, and technology. It is important to also understand that some of this disruption has created lasting impacts and will need long-term strategies to return to business as usual. 

The new operational blueprint should address strategic changes for the long term but should also include tactical quick wins for the contact center. Some questions and challenges to consider when creating this new blueprint are: 

  • How do you tailor recruitment, onboarding, training, and ongoing talent management for a hybrid workforce? Skill and career development and embedding an organizational culture pose unique challenges of their own. 
  • How do you strengthen performance management? Where does technology help, and how do we reinforce it with process-based rigor? Maintaining productivity, factoring in flexibility when forecasting and scheduling are the obvious struggles. Managing employee motivation, establishing a supportive structure that goes beyond traditional floor support and putting together protocols for stress management will reveal themselves as challenges in the long term. 
  • Information security and compliance do not have the luxury of a controlled workplace anymore. Strategies to ensure consistent levels of compliance and security across hybrid workplaces need differentiated thinking. 

This post was written by Senior Analyst Vasupradha Srinivasan, and it originally appeared here