Organizations will be feeling the financial impact of the 2020 coronavirus pandemic for years to come. Seemingly overnight, consumer behavior shifted and large swaths of the retail landscape closed shop. Perhaps most significantly, a considerable portion of the world’s office workers made an abrupt switch to work from home solutions.
Long after the pandemic finally ends, analysts will be examining a shift in societal perceptions and expectations around office work, particularly customer service work from home arrangements.
Some CEOs were surprised by how well their work at home solutions performed. Rather than the impersonal, scattered experience they expected, they found their employees more engaged and, in many ways, less stressed.
Prominent corporate executives reported that many employees were more focused since they were free from the grind of commuting and preparing for a day away from home. By mid-2020, several Fortune 500 companies announced they were permanently shifting to remote work models for at least a portion of their operations.
On the other hand, the pandemic’s abrupt nature shook some industry leaders since they were not prepared to handle the unpredictable expansion and contraction cycle as markets opened and closed and opened again. Maintaining a right-size workforce became all but impossible for sizeable call-based customer service centers.
What’s Next for Customer Service Work from Home Solutions?
Forward-facing executives are taking a fresh look at staffing, building on the wisdom gained from being thrust into a fully remote or hybrid staffing situation. They are asking big questions about where to go from here.
Is it time to reduce overhead costs, sell off their commercial real estate, and go all-in on a remote workforce?
For some organizations, the answer won’t come easily. Remember — the rapid shift into a work-from-home model is just one outcome of widespread shutdowns. Another impact is the unpredictable and volatile retail sector.
Mass layoffs have already affected millions of workers around the world. Some companies have yet to recover, and a significant number of companies never will.
Employees, in the meantime, have increasingly embraced the flexibility of work-from-home arrangements. Even before the pandemic forced companies to send their workers home, there had been a great deal of interest in remote work among job applicants. It shouldn’t be too surprising — workers can save thousands of dollars annually by cutting out lengthy commutes and reduced childcare expenses.
The scheduling flexibility of many work-at-home employees allows them to fit appointments and errands into their workweek instead of taking entire days off to handle these activities. The pandemic may be accelerating what has been an inevitable shift toward these models.
The smartest solution for contact centers may lie somewhere in the middle, with a hybrid workforce model.
What Is a Hybrid Workforce Model?
A hybrid workforce model is a strategic combination of onshore, nearshore, and offshore teams which result in high-quality outputs and operational flexibility. The growth of the remote workforce, complemented by secure remote worker technology is allowing companies to explore hitherto untapped talent pools of mature, experienced, and driven professionals, across the globe.
One of the areas where a hybrid workforce model is rapidly gaining popularity is customer support. To implement a strong hybrid workforce model, companies are partnering with contact centers that have the ability and technology to hire, train and manage a combination of onsite and remote customer care teams.
Benefits of a Hybrid Contact Center Model
Hybrid call center models require less internal oversight, which can benefit organizations in several ways:
On-Demand Surge Capabilities
Call handling metrics improve as contact centers become able to handle surge volumes seamlessly. When call volumes grow, they are automatically routed to third-party work-at-home agents who provide professional, responsive service to callers during the surge. This enables seamless customer service, improves call handling metrics, saves costs and builds customer loyalty.
Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity
Since a hybrid contact center model provides access to a variety of remote customer service agents who are much less at risk in the event of a natural disaster or future pandemic, this combination of onshore, offshore, nearshore, and now homeshoring is becoming a part of every Disaster Recovery Plan(DRP) and Business Continuity Program (BCP).
Accelerated International Scaling Efforts
An outsourcer with a global footprint and hybrid contact center solutions can significantly scale to meet business needs. A remote workforce positioned throughout the world opens access to value-added services like 24/7 customer support, bilingual operations, and localized perspectives that add authenticity to call-based servicing.
Greater Access to Mature Talent
Work-at-home agents enter the field for many reasons. The flexibility of these job opportunities makes them ideal for people who are shifting into a new stage of life after years of building well-rounded skills in the job market. As a result, this talent pool has professional work ethics and become dedicated brand ambassadors and build deep connections with customers.
Automation and Data Analytics Benefits
In order to maximize a hybrid call center solution, we offer features like AI-enhanced automated call routing and data analytics. Smart technology handles call routing in real-time.
Once adjusted to an organization’s call volume data, smart tech solutions can also predict future trends and estimate coverage needs well in advance. Organizations can make more informed spending and operational decisions based on this valuable insight.
Hybrid workforce solutions can’t make an organization completely invulnerable against the next pandemic or natural disaster recovery. However, organizations retain much more control over costs and human resource management when they prepare for unexpected shifts in call volumes — and when they are ready to scale up or dial down operations at a moment’s notice.
Partnering with a contact center like ContactPoint360 will add the right processes, methods, and technologies to implement a hybrid customer care team to ensure disaster recovery and business continuity in customer support.
Contact Tracy for a discovery call in how we can create custom hybrid workforce solutions to meet your business needs.