COVID-19 and Your Contact Center

Your Pandemic Resource Guide for the World of Customer Care

If one thing’s for certain in these uncertain times, it’s that humans are resilient. There have been comparisons of COVID-19 to an earthquake, where the initial quake shakes us to the core, but the aftershocks continue to reshape the world for months and years to come.


Whether you’re still actively responding to the impact of the pandemic or you’re thankfully in a post-pandemic state of business, questions about the future are relevant either way.


In considering the impact of COVID-19 on contact centers, we created the complete Pandemic Resource Guide. Scroll on for more insight or fill out the form to download the comprehensive guide.

Download Your Pandemic Resource Guide Today

What’s Included:









60 Customer Care RFP Questions for the Contact Center of the 2020s

Whether you already have an RFP template on hand or not, there are two key things to remember: First, the partnership with your customer care outsourcer is a unique one, requiring customized questions for a more accurate assessment. And second, there’s no doubt that the pandemic has evolved what you need from a customer service provider – and your RFP should reflect that.


The following 10 questions are just a handful of pandemic-related RFP questions you should add to your overall template. You can see the full 60 questions here or access them through your download.


    1. What percent of your workforce is remote/work-at-home?
    2. How have you worked to maintain culture despite remote and/or physically distanced work environments?
    3. What are you doing to promote diversity and inclusion within your organization?
    4. Outline your attraction and recruitment strategies and processes including how your organization is recruiting in the time of COVID.
    5. How have you evolved your training program to accommodate remote and/or physically distanced work environments?
    6. How do your success ratios differ in remote work circumstances?
    7. How have your employee engagement strategies evolved to support remote and/or physically distanced work environments?
    8. How did you evolve your client relationship management process during the pandemic?
    9. How do you support the remote and/or physically distanced work environment from a technology perspective?
    10. Detail your ability to pivot from an in-office solution to a primarily remote solution and vice versa from a technology perspective.

Rethinking the Outsourcer Selection Process in the New Normal

COVID-19 turned the possibility of on-site contact center visits (something we wholeheartedly recommend in normal circumstances) on its head. We’re barely getting within six feet of our family members, let alone shaking hands with strangers. Most outsourced customer care companies are still leveraging wide-spread work-from-home models with facilities operating at a fraction of their previous capacity.

In this new world, how will you go about getting your hands on the intangible pieces of the evaluation process? How do you step out of the pages of the RFP and really see customer care programs in action?


Here are some key questions to consider in the outsourcer selection process. Dig deeper with our original article here or refer to your handy downloadable guide for more insight.

  • Can you see yourself working here?
  • What’s the employee experience really like?
  • Can you see yourself working with the leadership team?
  • What are their clients saying about them?
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Finally, ask your prospective partner if they have experience bringing new clients on during the pandemic. How did it go? What lessons were learned? In addition, a virtual site visit might actually be an efficient step to add sooner into your process. It will help you narrow down your list of vendors in ways that the RFP alone couldn’t do – and once the doors do open up again, a real in-person visit with the finalists will help you make a confident decision.

Crisis Reveals Character: Launching an Outsourced Customer Care Program in a Pandemic

When a crisis hits, do you panic or do you think on your feet and quickly move forward with a plan? Asking the same question of a potential outsourcer is essential. The right partner is one who believes in having the right people in the right place at the right time – and can execute this almost flawlessly, no matter the scenario.


It’s a bit of a cliché, but crisis truly does reveal character – and in this context, we’re looking at corporate character. If an outsourcer has the agility and capacity to pivot during times of disruption and uncertainty, it is because they had an established baseline of excellence.


In short, you’re looking for a partner who has withstood the test of crisis. They should be able to clearly communicate their plans and transparently share their biggest hurdles. They will have a track record that proves their strength and agility in all business climates. Their performance during this pandemic serves as a sort of litmus test for how they will perform for you and your customers in more “normal” times.


A rock-solid Statement of Work sets the tone for the partnership and is therefore especially important in times of crisis. It communicates expectations on both sides and establishes measures of success, including all KPIs, metrics, and call volume forecasting. A great SOW supports the goals of your customer care program and aligns with your overall business objectives. It also ensures everyone is on the same page well before your program actually launches.


Along with the clear, actionable, measurable Statement of Work, your partner of choice should have a well-established implementation plan identifying deliverables and milestones, owners, dependencies, and timelines. Hand-in-hand with this is intelligent resource allocation. Again, the right people in the right place at the right time. It’s likely that a variety of teams will be involved in the launch – from your tech team to your executive team – and every resource needs to have buy-in, access, and accountability. Frequent and structured communication for the duration of the implementation process is a must. Make sure all of these things are in place before launch.


For more insight, check out the original article or read more in the downloadable guide.


Redundancy: Preparing Customer Care for Crisis Situations

Redundancy. Business Continuity. Those are major check boxes in every RFP we’ve ever responded to. Boxes to be checked on both sides of the equation – the buyer asked: “What’s your plan in case of disaster?” The bidders answered: “Here’s our plan in case of disaster….” Well, as the saying goes, humans plan and the gods laugh.


As the coronavirus continues to impact every element of our lives and businesses, those questions are more critical to answer than ever before. How do we prepare customer care for crisis situations and ensure our capacity to serve customers?


As a client, what are you looking for in a redundancy model from your strategic partner now? Has that changed in the past months? In our corporate history, redundancy measures came in many different shapes and sizes.  It seems almost naïve in retrospect, but one of the top tier redundancy options in our industry included the operation a full hot site back-up in separate geographic location. That was a great option for the not-unlikely scenario where a disaster strikes a single location unexpectedly, but that kind of geographic redundancy seems almost laughable in our current reality. A second hot site would just mean two empty offices instead of one today.

In recent years, we have been supporting clients with frequent unforecasted spikes in volume with a hybrid of brick-and-mortar and at-home support. These clients typically tend to be in businesses that are impacted by things like weather (emergency roadside assistance or same-day delivery models, for instance). That hybrid model provided the best of both worlds and when COVID came calling, it served our clients extremely well – we ramped up existing at-home capacity to the max while we transitioned all on-site agents to work-at-home over the course of three days. Challenges, of course, are amplified when you have to maintain the highest security standards for sensitive programs especially where compliance with standards like PCI, HIPAA, and other enterprise data protection requirements come into play.


As we move toward a new normal, our focus is on being able to leverage the strengths inherent in our brick and mortar operations – especially in terms of security – both physical security and data security – while enhancing our ability to pivot quickly to provide seamless or near-seamless support of our clients in a world where no one can leave their house.


Curious to hear more? Get the details here or refer to your downloadable pandemic guide.

The Pivot to 100% Remote Training in the Contact Center

Let’s talk preparation – the critical first step. Right off the bat, this will be a cross-functional effort. Your recruitment team will need to be a step ahead, making final hires at least a week earlier than usual to provide time for shipping equipment.


Tight communication between all stakeholders (trainers and trainees) and support functions (hello, IT, we’re looking at you here) is essential. Mitigation and risk planning are a big part of that, often requiring your tech team to be flexible and willing to drop everything.


The second key pillar is setting expectations. In the remote environment, where more factors are outside of your control, trainers need to expect the unexpected – especially regarding potential technology issues. Even if the worst happens and their remote training environment comes crashing down around them, they must remain composed, unshakeable, and confident. They must know how and when to access resources and should be prepared to stay calm throughout the journey ahead.


Finally, engagement is a key pillar in successful remote training. This is much easier to accomplish for in-person training, where you have control over the physical environment and can maintain physical interaction such as eye contact. In the virtual classroom, engagement is a whole new ball game.


At minimum, in addition to a video conferencing platform, to do remote training well, you also need a robust eLearning platform.


In our original article, you’ll find lots more advice for remote training. Or check your convenient downloadable guide for more.

Exploring the Impact of COVID-19 on Customer Behavior

COVID-19 has significantly impacted customer behaviors and expectations. In fact, in a survey from Noble Systems, almost 54% of respondents claimed to have noticed behavioral changes in their customers over the last 12 months. It’s created a paradigm shift, which is both fascinating and frustrating, especially when it comes to forecasting and workforce management.


Contact Volume: Sectors like online grocery and retail, networking and cybersecurity, and healthcare have all seen significant growth throughout the pandemic. This inevitably translates to higher contact volume in the customer care realm. On the flip side, it’s obvious how sectors like travel and tourism have suffered over the last year—and that means dwindling contact volume.


Arrival Patterns: For many, working from home comes with two distinct advantages that aren’t as prevalent in the office: privacy and flexibility. No longer did people have to wait until that 5 ‘o’ clock hour to make that phone call to customer service. With self-appointed breaks and no nosy coworkers to overhear them, customers have single-handedly shifted the peak call hours for many customer care operations across the globe to daytime hours, often between 9-5. Some companies have seen traditionally quiet hours of the day, like the 2pm to 5pm period, switch drastically to being the busiest time of all for customer calls. Other companies are seeing customers picking up their phones at all hours of the day. 8am-8pm self-service peaks have evolved into 24/7 requests.

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Omni-Channel Patterns: The aforementioned Noble Systems report saw increases across the board. 44% saw an increase in email communication, 29% saw an increased use of their IVR, 26% saw a greater use in their online livechat tools, and 20% saw more text/SMS use. Omnichannel in general and digital channels in particular give contact centers a unique opportunity to mold the customer experience in alignment with both the company brand and evolving consumer expectations.


Future Forecasting & Workforce Management: For industries whose contact volumes significantly shifted—whether up or down—the question becomes, how long will those trends last? And what strategies can contact centers use for forecasting? The typical tactic of using past data to predict future trends gets complicated when the current factors influencing your short-term forecast won’t be repeated in the future. For some industries, 2020 metrics may never be seen again. Going back to 2019 data may not be the answer either since both customer behavior and employee behavior shifted dramatically.


Check out the original article or your downloadable guide for more insight.

A Case Study: Racing Against Time: Achieving a 96% On-Time Success Rate in a 120-Minute Delivery Window in the Midst of a Pandemic

We’ve partnered closely with this multinational network technology corporation for many years, providing end-to-end order management support and customer success enablement. We enjoy the freedom they grant us in being able to creatively take on new challenges and goals.

In the case study, we explain how we:

  • Achieved a 96% success rate of a two-hour delivery window
  • Trained a competing global vendor in best practices
  • Navigated the restrictions of unprecedented global conditions

Get access to the case study here or read all about it in your downloadable pandemic guide.

Launched a New Customer Care Program in the Middle of a Pandemic

A Case Study: How a Major US-Based Sports Association Launched a New Customer Care Program in the Middle of a Pandemic

This national sports association leads the US in governing and promoting one of the nation’s well-loved sports, including its annual pro championships, community involvement and coaching programs, charitable initiatives, and more.

In the case study, discover how we:

  • Pivoted to 100% remote recruiting, onboarding, and training
  • Launched on-time despite major challenges of the pandemic
  • Received positive feedback from the client and their members immediately upon launch

Get access to the case study here or read all the details in your downloadable pandemic guide.

Download Your Pandemic Resource Guide Today