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Coronavirus and Contact Centers: Practical Solutions for Business Continuity

As the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19, or coronavirus, increases across the United States and around the world, businesses are expressing valid concern around how their staff, customers, and day-to-day captive centers and BPO operations will be affected. To maintain employee safety as well as deliver quality care during this public health crisis, HGS is providing clients with up-to-date communications and offering proactive solutions to keep daily operations going with minimal interruption.

Employees First

HGS has implemented heightened health and safety precautions at our global sites, including on-site nurses in some centers. Employees are encouraged to leave work if they experience any symptoms of fever, cough, or shortness of breath, while workstations, common areas, and restrooms are being sanitized hourly. We are ensuring our facilities have ample supplies of hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, and tissues, and HGS leaders are distributing educational notices on good hygiene practices, including handwashing.

To ensure HGS is following the recommended guidelines, we are assessing the risk daily and monitoring CDC, WHO, and government recommendations closely. High-risk business travel has been put on hold, and travelers returning from affected areas must be medically cleared before returning to work.

The health and safety of all HGS employees continues to be a top priority.

Volume Shifting

Because contagion is most likely to occur in crowded spaces, contact centers may experience high absenteeism. For clients that have multiple, redundant sites, HGS can easily shift voice and online volume from one location to another. Network teams reroute the interactions according to architecture strategies that our IT teams have designed in collaboration with clients to ensure minimal, if any, business disruption. We have had no outbreaks in our centers to date, but we are ready to shift volumes if required.

Work at Home BPO Solutions

Another viable option to curb the spread of the virus is to train existing brick-and-mortar agents to work from home. Our strong and mature Work at Home solution allows our clients the flexibility to leverage this business platform while they continue to support their customers with minimum interruption. The HGS Work at Home training model supports agents 100 percent virtually through an online learning platform.

Read more about embracing Work at Home solutions here, and visit our blog for additional answers to frequently asked Work at Home questions.

 

Self-Help Portals

Intelligent self-service is in demand, and effortless experiences and answers within seconds are expected—especially during times of crisis. Helping customers help themselves through website FAQs, how-to videos, and peer-to-peer communities drives traffic away from 800 numbers and toward self-sufficiency. For example, for one of our consumer electronics companies, HGS implemented an award-winning self-help solution that not only reduced costs by 70 percent, but also achieved a resolution rate of 97 percent within the first six months.

Chatbots

The use of automation and chatbots to handle straightforward requests, such as making reservations or payments, has become the norm for many leading companies. Bots can provide a humanlike, personalized, conversational experience at a significantly lower cost than with traditional agents—which is particularly beneficial if several agents are ill at the same time. An eBook around HGS’s use of bot technology is available for download here, and you can see an AI chatbot in action in this two-minute demo.

IVRs/Callback Features/Website Alerts

Because long hold times are often a consequence of peak volumes and busy seasons, HGS regularly implements the use of custom IVR messages, such as “We are currently experiencing a high call volume. Please press one if you would like us to hold your place in line and return your call directly.” To ensure a positive CX during periods of high call volume due to a disaster or crisis, HGS recommends using callback features as well as inserting website alerts alongside your customer service number. These messages can share possible delays via phone support and even offer self-help options for customers to use while waiting for live assistance.

Unsure how to answer your customers’ questions during this pandemic?

HGS is monitoring the coronavirus status daily, and we will continue to ensure that best practices are in place for our employees’ health and safety. In addition, we are committed to providing our clients and customers best-in-class support throughout this shifting situation, and we will always maintain open lines of communication.

If you would like to learn more about how HGS is preparing for COVID-19 in its contact centers, or if you have any questions about contact center business continuity solutions, launching Work at Home during the coronavirus crisis, or other CX alternatives to ensure minimal impact to your customers and your teams, please contact marketing@teamhgs.com.

Author Info
Lauren Kindzierski
Lauren Kindzierski

VP of Consumer Engagement Solutions at HGS

Lauren Kindzierski, VP of Consumer Engagement Solutions at HGS, the world’s leading digitally led Customer Experience (CX) company. Lauren has over 13 years experience in the customer experience industry. Her passion for customer experience has driven her to develop innovative engagement solutions – including HGS EPIC™ social customer care and HGS Text for clients. In 2016, she received a Silver Stevie® Award for being a Women Leader in Business, Executive of the Year. Lauren holds a Masters degree in Business Administration from Walsh College.