With around 109,000 people employed by call centres in the UK, the nation was thrown a curveball when the covid pandemic hit in early 2020.
Whilst we are used to busy call centres and customer services teams huddled in one large room, customer-focused businesses had to react and find new ways to carry out their duties without spreading the plague any further.
With this in mind, customer service teams and call centres made a number of changes to keep within covid requirements.
The Move From Office to Remote
One of the most common and key changes to emerge during covid was the shifting of the virtual office to remote customer services.
Customer service agents were required to use their own computers or handed laptops by their employers and were taking customer service calls from the comfort of their own homes.
For callers looking for information about their travel, phone bill or energy supplier, there was no difference and it was business as usual.
Some have questioned the quality of phone calls, with unstable internet connections and signal – plus the reliance of customer agents to have working computers and a quiet place to take calls.
But this provided a viable alternative until there was a gradual return to the office.
Outsourcing Customer Services
For those companies unable to handle their customer service teams, they looked for outsourcing.
Today, there are a number of companies who can handle your outsourced customer services including basic roles of answering phones and responding to queries, to virtual receptionists, complaints handling and debt collection.
Moneypenny is one of the most established in this space, followed by All Day PA and the recent emergence of TieTa who specialise in offering customer services for the finance and health industry.
Training Via eLearning
A further change during covid was the inability to carry out training sessions for large groups. And whilst Zoom and other video conferencing tools are useful for this, it can be limited to 50 people.
Some eLearning platforms were well-equipped for this, including Udemy and Coursera, with other companies such as RQC Group creating specialist training courses for certain industries and helping employees follow compliance guidelines.
Increased Changes in Bookings and Redirects
The covid pandemic was also a very challenging time for customer service teams, largely due to the massive increase in customer calls.
Not only were industries such as events and travel inundated with customers requesting changes to their bookings, flights and other arrangements, it was a challenge for companies to come up with new policies. For instance, firms who could not fully operate during covid needed to react with new refund policies, changes in bookings and covid specific clauses.
Furthermore, other industries saw huge uptake in customer calls too, from households finally having the time to sort out their insurance policies and wills – or whether they were frantically trying to book a grocery order through Ocado or similar.
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