Industry Commentary

5 Key CX Pandemic Observations 1 Year Later

By March 17, 2021February 14th, 2024No Comments

Popular media is awash with recaps of the past 12 months and the impact that the pandemic has had on all aspects of society.  While such coverage can be grim it is inevitable, and it also opens the way for discussion of the primary impacts of the past year on the customer management sector.  One year ago, Ryan Strategic Advisory published its first COVID19-related industry commentary. Now, 52 weeks on, the changes that the CX space has undergone are as profound as they are numerous.  In no specific order, the following are among the most compelling:

  • Work-from-home is an established CX model that is here to stay – before the pandemic, there was anecdotal evidence that home working was gaining steam in North America and Europe. But, once the COVID19 crisis began, what was a niche delivery method for over a decade suddenly went mainstream.  To be fair, the pure-play virtual operators have performed solidly throughout the pandemic period. But, it is an understatement to say that enterprises and BPOs that were not used to delivery using the virtual method were caught by surprise. Still, credit goes out to those firms that successfully managed the Dunkirk-like shift from bricks-and-mortar operations to remote-delivery, in some cases literally overnight.
  • But, workfrom-home CX is showing signs of strain – despite a strong tactical performance among captive and outsourced operators in migrating out of physical sites to virtual delivery, forecasts at the outset of the pandemic that customer management would forever become exclusively home-based were wrong. Much of this has to do with the fact that many at-home agents have had difficulty adapting to these long-term work circumstances. Research by 5th Talent has confirmed this trend, one that been a root cause for virtual agent disengagement and attrition, which invariably impacts interactions negatively.  Rightly, contact center operators are prioritizing workforce mental and physical well-being. However, there is a growing consensus that hybridization, pairing home-based CX alongside bricks-and-mortar operations, is the only fully effective means of service delivery.
  • Enterprises want innovation around information security – there is no question that the pandemic has grown the need for heightened data protection among the buyers of contact center services. No BPO should expect an easy ride from chief security officers at enterprises that are searching for a third-party provider of front-line services. This has been heightened over the past year. With so many agents using their own devices, the strains of digitally-securing a home for work have become clear. BPOs need to realize that there is no substitute for cutting-edge technology and robust recruitment processes that anticipate potential fraud before it happens.
  • Business continuity has taken on a life of its own – with so many enterprises now wanting to make business continuity a priority, the outsourcing community has been forced to act. This simply makes sense from the perspective of being able to overcome whatever sort of disruption. It has also driven more interest in alternative delivery locations and business models.  This stream of thought has proven a boon for up-and-coming CX destinations across the world, as BPOs aim to grow their roster of points from which quality interactions can be managed, both in-center and remotely.
  • Economic uncertainty has raised the bar for CX adaptation – despite the roller coaster-like economy since March 2020, consumer activity has been robust, albeit in a different form. Prudent outsourcers were those that tailored their solutions to a business model that is based around supporting online transactions and the clients that support this activity.  These include enterprises in e-commerce, logistics and food-delivery, just to name a few.  CX offerings must respond effectively as more business is done online.