While many organizations felt a rush of adrenaline in their efforts to continue working during the outbreak of COVID-19, 40 per cent have determined they need to upgrade their ability to get insights about customers, according to research from Sabio Group.
In CX Realities 2020: The Story of COVID-19 and How Customer Service Responded, the London-based tech firm published the results of phone interviews and a survey of CX professionals, CIOs and other business leaders.
Though light on hard statistics, the report is structured in an unusually narrative manner, peppered with direct quotes that give voice to a wide range of memories of those on the front lines.
A big part of the response, perhaps unsurprisingly, was the need to pivot quickly to work-from-home models and an emphasis on digital channels to engage with customers. These might normally have been areas in which brands moved with slow caution, but the Sabio report’s authors described “heroic levels of achievement” as firms rose to the challenges the pandemic threw at them.
“If it is true you should never waste a good crisis, it is clear few did,” the report says. “Undue caution has been replaced with a powerful can-do attitude. New capability has been rapidly tested and proven. The recent distance travelled in becoming a digital first business has rejuvenated belief in that outcome.”
The result is that approximately more than half of those surveyed said customer experience will be a greater priority in the long term, and Sabio Group suggested that will mean greater investments in cloud-based tools and artificial intelligence (AI) applications that can give them a better sense of what customers will need and want.
One area that hasn’t often been discussed in CX circles is the importance of business continuity planning, and execs admitted to Sabio Group they had never considered a disaster of this magnitude affecting their operations. While more could be done to imagine worst-case scenarios, one of the quotes from a survey respondent showed how the fate of third parties such as business process outsourcers could become an area of risk.
“Worst thing for us in UK was BPO closing,” a pull quote in the report says. “Took the BPO partner 5 weeks to execute homeworking strategy Where do you find 70/100 FTE overnight?”
As is often the case in vendor-produced research, the value of digital channels and self-service tools were highlighted, but Sabio Group also noted that “live assistance via voice remains an instinctive choices when issues are emotive and complex.”
The report also debunked the notion that contact centre workloads skyrocketed amid COVID-19. This was primarily true in sectors such as finance and health care, Sabio Group said, but some said there was no change or even a reduction in customer demands.
Other areas of the research delve into the immediate reaction to shifting to a remote workforce, whether employees will want to come back to an office and what it will mean for recruiting and managing high-performance teams.