No one could have foreseen how the coronavirus outbreak would impact the business community. Many companies had to shut up shop and send their employees home. Stay-at-home orders, self-isolation, social distancing, and quarantine mean that every business needs a radical rethink as to how it operates.
With the economy going into meltdown—and who knows how long it’s going to last—uncertainty rules the business world. But it is clear that businesses that emerge as successful from the COVID-19 pandemic are ones that adapt the quickest.
Typically, companies that don’t use business process outsourcing (BPO) vendors find it difficult to adjust to change. During the COVID-19 crisis, the customer service of these businesses suffered. It meant that calls, emails, chatbots, went unanswered. This isn’t an ideal situation for worried consumers who are looking for solutions to their concerns. Unfortunately, these customers may look elsewhere in the future.
The article explores the need for work at home business models. We’ll also look at how call centers have adapted to overcome current challenges.
Outsourcing Business Processes
With many companies forced to use a “work-from-home” business model, the need for outsourcing has never been greater. However, choosing a dependable BPO vendor means one that also adapts to changing times.
At CallCenterPros, we already have a solid base of call center staff who work from home. This allows us to attract the best talent, offer high-quality services, and expand our capacity when required. So, when the COVID-19 crisis hit the US, we were in an excellent position to meet increased demands.
The Work-From-Home Business Model — Here to Stay?
Most business leaders accept that the work from home (WFH) model is here to stay. However, the benefits of working from home are not something new.
For example, a Harvard Business Review report found that employees are more productive when working from home. One 2017 study found that many employees would even be willing to take a pay cut if they had the option to work from home.
An interesting study from China found that call-center employees also benefit from a WFM model. Researchers found that productivity increased by 13% when all staff was able to work from home.
Other benefits of companies that have a WFM agent program include:
- Better employee retention and engagement
- Lower operating costs
- Access to highly-trained talent
- Flexible working times that improve work-life balance
- The ability to upscale or downscale as necessary
To overcome the challenge associated with work-from-home programs, call centers should invest in the latest technology. Investment helps to ensure that BPO vendors meet strict guidelines when it comes to security, connectivity, training, and quality.
So, in these uncertain times, it makes sense to choose a BPO vendor who employs a WFM model.
The Effect of Coronavirus and Call Center Volume
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses have had to close, and it’s unsure if they will ever reopen. However, other companies have seen an upsurge in new customers. This shift in behavior has affected the type of calls that call center outsourcing deal with. Here are a few examples:
- Travel industry—Obviously, any kind of industry related to travel has seen a sharp decline. This includes airlines, rideshare, travel companies, and hotels.
- Health hotlines—It comes as no surprise that millions of people are looking for coronavirus-related advice. So, hospitals, medical centers, healthcare providers, and medical device suppliers have seen an unprecedented rise in calls to helplines.
- Delivery services—Many call center outsourcing companies who do home deliveries have had to hire more staff to deal with increased demand. People are ordering meals, clothing, household goods, and groceries at an unparalleled rate.
- Financial services—Another industry that has seen a spike in calls to customer services is the financial sector. People want advice on their savings, car insurance, and mortgages.
It’s evident that, with most people staying at home and increased demand, companies need to ensure their customer service delivers the kind of experience their customer want. Choosing a reliable call center vendor is often the best way to ensure this.
In our experience, many nearshore call centers have been best placed to continue delivering uninterrupted services to their clients in the US. These centers are located in countries that have not been impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak as much as the US. Therefore, they are in a position to continue providing the best BPO services.
In the past, working from home was seen as the exception rather than the rule. However, employees who work from home are quickly becoming the new norm. Adopting this type of business model allows companies to cut costs without compromising on standards.
Also, companies who outsource many of their processes find that they can adapt faster in times of crisis.