Protecting staff and supporting customers with cloud contact centres

By Paul Rundle, PA Consulting

16 April 2020

As the pandemic continues to radically change our lives, customer services and contact centres are a critical resource that provide support and guidance to concerned people. Financial services organisations are experiencing major additional customer service workload, driven by customer requests for financial assistance, on top of business-as-usual volumes. A decrease in customer service capacity compounds the challenge because most contact centres use static, legacy technology that relies on staff being physically in the office to handle customer enquiries, which is at odds with guidance to work from home where possible.

This creates an unprecedented dilemma for firms – how can they protect the well-being of their staff while ensuring customers have access to the support they need? And how do they make this solution sustainable given coronavirus restrictions are expected to continue for many months?

One solution to tackle the immediate challenge as well transform contact centres for future success is to migrate technology quickly and safely to the cloud. This would allow for remote working, enabling staff to observe official guidelines around social distancing while serving customers. Cloud contact centre infrastructure is also highly scalable, making it fit for the ambitions of the organisation after this crisis. So how can firms do it?

Deployment in days, not weeks

Relying on existing legacy contact centre technology constrains financial organisations, making them slow to respond to changing external circumstances. Moving to cloud technology solves many of these limitations, allowing organisations to better support home working whilst using most existing corporate hardware, or even home hardware if necessary. Training can also be delivered over the internet for staff.

By establishing a cloud contact centre, firms can begin to transition teams to productive home working in a matter of days and can avoid the time-consuming technology constraints of legacy contact centre systems.

Enhanced security

Protection and oversight of customer data should always remain a priority, no matter the circumstances for upgrading technology. Cloud systems typically have control arrangements which are easy to configure, review and manage; these arrangements are proven in sectors with strict privacy requirements, such as government and financial services. Controls can also be aligned with a firm’s existing security framework and processes, and often provide an opportunity to strengthen these standards.

Minimal disruption to existing customer services

For both staff and customers, it’s important to keep the systems and channels used as consistent as possible in times of uncertainty. So, integrating a cloud contact centre with existing inbound customer contact channels will enable agents to handle calls remotely with the least amount of disruption for customers.

To ensure customer experience remains as seamless as possible in such challenging times, we recommend firms add a temporary customer service ticket management system. Using cloud-based CRM and ticketing solutions will ensure customer cases are tracked through to conclusion and are available for collaboration and audit purposes. It can also have a positive effect on a firm’s brand and reputation by ensuring customers don’t ‘fall out’ of the system and there is a closed loop.  

For firm staff, re-configuring existing core systems for access in a home working setting will ensure minimum disruption, and prevent pauses in service while they learn how to use new systems. Virtual desktop services can be set up either using the organisation’s existing desktop infrastructure or by adopting secure cloud desktop services.

It doesn’t have to break the bank  

In uncertain times, leaders are faced with making difficult decisions about their business – including how to re-think their approach to managing costs to avoid unnecessary expenditure. But if firms make ingenious use of their existing on-site technology, implementing a cloud contact centre can be a low-cost initiative with long term benefits.

There is also the option of working on a pay-per-use model, where costs are based on the quantity of colleagues and inbound contact volumes, starting with the most critical staff and channels before rolling it out further.

Another advantage is the scalability of the service. Whilst it is sensible to consider cloud contact centres as part of a firm’s future digital transformation plans, the technology can be retained as a business continuity provision at negligible operational cost and the latent ability to scale-up on demand, if required.

Cloud contact centre technology can help improve performance of customer services and back office functions, enabling firms to sustain operations, meet regulatory obligations and provide new products in times of unprecedented workload and capacity challenges. But in the current coronavirus environment it can also mean firms aren’t forced to make a choice between supporting their customers and safe-guarding their people.  

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