The Future of Customer Contact

The way we work is changing: quite rapidly in fact. It used to be that for many employees remote working was a ‘nice to have’ – a luxury.

However, in recent weeks it has become a necessity; not just for office staff, but for customer service professionals too. We’ve seen that it can work well, but can we expect this to continue?

Greater Mobility For All

Communication is essential, in all industries and sectors. That’s a given. And for a long time many businesses have felt that, other than knowledge workers, working from home – or remotely – wasn't an option. Interaction for many professionals had to be face-to-face.

However, for those working in customer service and other call centre environments, or in telephony and frontdesk services, the actual tasks involved with call answering, transferring, putting on hold, or redirecting can similarly be completed anywhere – with the right software solutions.

Many office-based businesses are currently discovering the full benefits of video conferencing services like Zoom, Skype, WebEx, and Microsoft Teams; alongside collaboration tools like Slack, Trello, and OneDrive.

While these, and other solutions, have been available and operational for some time, it’s taken a global pandemic to catalyse a change in how they’re being used – and for them to be more broadly adopted.

Changing The Culture Of Communication

Customer service and frontdesk professionals face a different set of operational challenges – as videoconferencing and collaboration software aren’t relevant to their work.

However, as more communication channels are being used to connect with customers – email, social media, and messaging platforms, as well as telephone calls – the need for an integrated platform becomes a necessity.

While we’re working to build these services at PeterConnects (through solutions like our Attendant and Receptionist platforms) the broader challenge is still a cultural one.

However, the shift is happening. As part of our efforts to lend support, we’ve been offering our licenses for free to healthcare authorities, who are actively seeking to reduce the number of staff in their hospitals as part of social distancing measures. These efforts include enabling frontdesk employees to work from home.

Short-Term Response, Long-Term Benefit?

We’re seeing business of all kinds adapt quickly, but some things remain the same. Communication is essential. Access to office functionality – software, data, apps etc – is too. But given that these can all be accessed remotely – what’s holding companies back from offering more flexibility in the long run?

Trust, that’s what. Not necessarily trust in employees, but trust in the idea that organisations can be run effectively under extreme circumstances. That will take some more time to prove.

While remote working is an adjustment for everyone, ultimately in the long term, it can be a positive one. Just imagine all of the hours that can be saved by reducing travel to and from work; and the reduction in traffic and emissions; the time and efficiency gains possible.

Right now working from home is situation-driven. But when the risk of COVID-19 subsides, will we go back to our old ways?