Kelly has noted six contact center trends that leaders can expect in 2021.
1. Customers need more empathetic virtual service.
COVID-19 quickly improved the business value of contact centers. Customer service is no longer seen for just fixing minor service issues—it’s now becoming a more fundamental lifeline to 33 million consumers devastated by the pandemic. Consumers are dealing with unexpected hardships and need more empathetic support.
2. Digital contact increases, creating more hybrid roles.
Digital customer service will increase by 40%, driven by more online shopping, financial services, and virtual telehealth. Some retailers and banks are creating hybrid store/contact center roles. The closure of brick-and-mortar locations has impacted many employees. However, retail associates and bank tellers are well equipped to provide the same support online that previously they delivered on-site.
3. Proactive support is gaining more momentum.
Businesses that for many years have used the same reactive contact center support strategies are now taking a more proactive approach. 80% of contact center leaders want to move from a reactive to a proactive approach, which can get ahead of known customer questions and issues before they arise. Enterprise-size organizations are 50% more likely to make that transition, for the sheer scale it can deliver.
4. Customer expectations continue to increase.
Despite challenges from the pandemic, customer expectations remain higher than ever. But while 75% of contact center leaders agree that customer expectations for their teams are increasing, less than half are sure they’re actually meeting those expectations. Leaders should take this as a top initiative for their teams.
5. More remote working and data to monitor workers.
A recent Gartner poll showed 48% of employees will likely work remotely at least part of the time after COVID-19, versus 30% before. And 16% of employers are using technologies more frequently to monitor their employees through methods such as virtual clocking in and out. Some are checking employee engagement and well-being to better understand the employee experience.
6. Remote work can lead to improved health.
According to Indeed, remote workers tend to take fewer sick days, likely from reduced exposure. About 50% of remote employees said working from home reduced their sick days and56%said it reduced their absences. And FlexJobs reported that employees without access to flexible or remote work are nearly two times more likely to have poor or very poor mental health.