Industry Commentary

BPOs Need to Prepare for a Post Vaccine CX Environment

By November 20, 2020January 10th, 2024No Comments

Disruptions in the delivery of contact center services has been written about at length in recent months, with the current state of play becoming an accepted fact of life.  However, with COVID19 vaccines starting to go through the regulatory approval process, no outsourcer should accept that the pandemic CX environment will be a long-term reality. 

Planning for post-COVID19 contact center delivery will be essential. And if such brainstorming has not already kicked-off in BPO boardrooms, it needs to posthaste. While there will be operational elements of the pre-pandemic period likely to re-integrate into outsourcing delivery, there will also be new ways of doing business. 

Probably the main question on the minds of most outsourcers and their clients relates to how remote models of work will translate in a post vaccine CX world.  Obviously, the Dunkirk-like shift that occurred early on in the pandemic, with literally hundreds of thousands of agents suddenly sent home to continue servicing clients as opposed to staying in the contact center, was necessary.  But, while overall this rapid transition was a success, over the months it is equally clear that this business model has been facing pressures. 

In many cases, agents accustomed to working in a bricks-and-mortar operation have expressed a desire to come back to the office. They are eager to reconnect with the working environment they knew before COVID19, not to mention their colleagues. Managing mental and physical health for virtual workers has also emerged as a major consideration, of late.  Equally, customer experience decisionmakers at many enterprises are anxious to determine the extent to which they will need to continue engaging with BPO partners in a virtual capacity, if at all. And, having spent large sums to build or retrofit facilities, outsourcing executives will wish to restart sweating the assets of their contact center investments when it is feasible from a health standpoint.

Should the physical contact center environment return to some semblance of pre-pandemic normalcy once vaccines arrive, another issue arises: the extent to which agents and clients expect pandemic health and safety provisions to continue.  This should not be underestimated as a consideration.  Most individuals in the broader workforce have become used to socially distanced working environments and easy access to sanitization products, as well as health services.  BPOs operating onshore and offshore alike should not assume that their teams will be willing to work in close confines, no matter how much they missed their colleagues. Agents are also likely to expect recent efforts to keep the CX environment as clean as possible to continue in the post-pandemic contact center.

These are a few of the things that decisionmakers in the outsourcing community need to be thinking about now, as healthcare providers plan to immunize the world.  For months, the CX industry has been filled with forecasts that the way consumers are supported will never be the same in a ‘new normal’.  While this is true, it is equally valid that for many operators the operating environment that took hold in Q1 2020 is unlikely to remain completely intact. 

Now is the time for contact center outsourcing executives to begin post vaccine strategizing, taking into account operations, remote working, and human resource planning.  This needs to begin by surveying agents about what they want as the world comes out the other end of the current health catastrophe. They should also be sounding clients on what they desire in terms of delivery model management.  A vaccine for COVID19 appears within sight, so customer experience planning needs to start now.