2021 has been a bumper year for digital transformation. Businesses have had to rapidly digitise processes to ensure they can continue operating as normally as possible no matter where their employees or customers are.
By Nic Laschinger, chief technology officer of Euphoria Telecom
The ongoing pandemic has forced even the most tech-averse consumers to use digital channels and tools, from internet banking to online shopping. A recent Heavy Chef report estimates that the pandemic has accelerated ecommerce adoption by three to five years’ as consumers moved their shopping activity online.
Say hello to voice (again)
Thanks to the pandemic, voice traffic has increased again, as people who do not want to or are not able to contact businesses (and each other) physically have turned to voice calling. According to Statista, one in three businesses started using interactive voice response (IVR) and live chat channels for the first time since the pandemic hit. Likewise, call centres in South Africa have seen a huge increase in call volumes, LexisNexis found.
For businesses, this has meant ensuring call centre teams are kept safe, connecting remotely if possible, and that they are geared to deal with an increased volume of stressed and traumatised humans calling in to resolve issues they likely would have been able to solve themselves, physically, before Covid hit.
Going into 2022, businesses running call centres would do well to ensure their infrastructures and people are geared to cope – technically and emotionally – with ongoing high call volumes and high emotions.
Not surprisingly, customer experience has become business critical as battered consumers, in the midst of a pandemic and the resulting economic and social uncertainty, are looking to businesses to provide them with consistent, excellent experiences across all channels – or lose their business. As Mopinion notes in its State of Customer Service 2021 round up, “What was once a simple nice-to-have has reached its tipping point and, almost overnight, having a strong investment in CX has quickly become a matter of survival for all companies.”
This trend is set to accelerate next year as businesses reimagine how they engage with their customers, who are demanding personalised experiences that are tailored to them, no matter where or how they interact with business. From reaching out via Twitter to calling into a contact centre or sending an email. Today’s consumers expect businesses to know who they are, and not to have to repeat the same information to an endless series of chat bots or customer service agents. Businesses will need to adjust their systems to deliver, or lose their customers to competitors who will.
Work is not a place you go
Employees around the globe have gone home, come back, come back some of the time, stayed home all of the time as the pandemic once again disrupts what we thought of how we need to work and where we need to do it.
Going into 2022 this trend is unlikely to change. According to a McKinsey report on The future of work after Covid the physical dimension of work became a disruptive factor in the workplace for the first time thanks to the pandemic. Roles that require higher levels of physical proximity, McKinsey found, are more likely to see greater transformation after the pandemic.
In other words, the way we view work as a place to go, not a thing we do has changed, permanently. Businesses need to look at which models are the most efficient and productive for their specific requirements, and adjust accordingly.