Overall, the pandemic’s impact on the customer support service system is quite positive. Because of the pandemic, omnichannel communication solutions and cloud-based customer service have made it possible for customer support agents to provide services from the comfort of their homes.
Moreover, various organizations shifted their customer service team to remote work. As a result, customer contact volumes have increased considerably for most businesses. However, businesses are also facing various challenges and one of them is reduced staffing.
To see which support areas got worse and which got improved during the last year, scroll down!
A. Ways the Pandemic Has Impacted Customer Support
The pandemic tourbulemces require the development of new practices that are affecting customer support services siginificantly. These are the top five practices that were affected by the pandemic:
1. Safety and Wellbeing
In most cases, social distancing does not affect customer support. However, some problems can only be solved in-person. Any actions that need to be performed face-to-face are often lingering and remote solutions do not work in every scenario.
After a long duration of office work, returning to remote workplaces does not seem normal. The employees who have been working in a bustling contact center for the past few months may not be familiar with new procedures. On the orher hand, new employees have started their first support experiences from remote onboarding. In addition to this, managing offboarding employees can also prove to be challenging when working remotely.
2. Provision of Tools for Remote Working
To improve the customer experience, all remote customer support agents must be provided with the login details of a helpdesk software and all necessary digital tools. If remote workers are new and need some basic guidance, giving them the tools they need, such as digital workplace login details and helpdesk manual helps start them off on the right foot.
The pandemic has increased the demand to work in an environment where every support agent needs to be more alert and proficient in using digital tools for service provision purposes.
3. Building a Collaborative Culture
Initially, some agents who are habitual of meeting customers in person may not feel comfortable in the remote workplace. It may take some time for employees to get used to this new work environment and show optimal performance. Though it may seem challenging to deal with new employees remotely, the workplace will automatically settle down with time.
Even prior to the pandemic, remote employees were able to work in a healthy remote working environment that allowed them to discuss issues and brainstorm solutions to work-related problems.
4. Coming Together for Team Meetings
A face-to-face meeting is always more convenient than a remote meeting. In the workplace, you can easily call someone to the office and talk about a subject matter. However, this is not possible in the remote work environment.
For new support agents, it was highly recommended that they meet with seasoned staff members or the whole team at least once a day. This practice was crucial for ensuring project flow and to keep things going smoothly. However, this trend has also become digital. Now, remote workers can make use of online tools like Trello to connect with other team members or check the status of a task while support agents can do the same on their easy-to-navigate helpdesk interfaces. Customer support management is far more comlex than for instance the HR one due to a continiously rising number of support tickets or customer requests. Thus, to ensure maximum efficiency and security, having a helpdesk has become an imperative to customer support success.
5. Day-to-Day Expectations
Compared with traditional office jobs, remote work is extremely flexible. While dealing with new remote support agents, you should teach them the importance of time management and implementing those time management techniques in the remote workplace.
If you are a manager, you should not hesitate to reskill your team evaluations. When you set boundaries and expectations, you enjoy the benefits of having a punctual remote work team.
Before the pandemic, it was typically easier to meet day-to-day expectations by evaluating the overall response of the support agents towards customers and checking their work in the office. Now, you need to rely on online tools to make sure evwrything is up and running!
B. Learning to Manage Remote Challenges
Companies face numerous challenges while dealing with new remote support agents. However, they shouldn't lose faith because there are advanced new generation tools to assit in solving any support trouble. If you continue using remote support service practices, you will enjoy long term benefits, such as lower expenses and improved customer experiences. Keep in mind that all tech tools are here for a reason!
Coping with these challenges is not only beneficial for the organization, but also helps to improve agent behavior. For this purpose, you should go the extra mile to use collaborative tools and try your best to ensure a smooth digital customer experience.
Numerous both global and local companies are attempting to adjust to the remote environment by relying on remote tools for solving customer problems and customer communication.
C. The Negative Impact of COVID-19 on Customer Support Agents
Fear of death encompasses all enthusiastic feelings. During the time of covid-19 crisis, everything seems out of place. People started questioning their health and work related decisions as well as financial strategies while many businesses changed their policies forever.
This immediate change has created feelings of isolation and loneliness. The orders of social distancing and stay-at-home have further worsened the situation and now the office-like environment has almost disappeared.
Now, let's see in more detail how COVID-19 has affected the motivation of customer support agents.
1. Comunication Gap
One-on-one communication is always different with online discussions. When an employee faces any roadblock, they will have to wait for the weekly team meeting, zoom conferences, and other teleconference tools.
No matter how frequently you are checking in, the communication gap is always there and may cause demotivation among the enthusiast support agents who want to work without a break.
2. Lack of Productivity
Not everyone feels comfortable in a home office. However, you can also face difficulties if you don't have any prior experience presenting your data and charts in online company-wide meetings.
Many IT professionals and newly hired customer support representatives may feel unconfident and struggle to communicate effectively in the online work environment.
Lack of confidence not only impacts productivity but also causes demotivation.
3. Sense of Instability
The pandemic has seriously impacted the economy. Now companies are reducing their workforce and redifing their work policies and budgets. This has caused a sense of instability and confusion among support agents and IT professionals.
If you run a company and observe demotivation in your support agents after the pandemic, try to recover their faith and be honest with them in overall feedback.
You will observe a considerable improvement in their motivation.
4. Less Opportunities for Celebrating Company Achievements
It is no secret that a few words of acknowledgment and encouragement elevates the employees' confidence level and keeps them motivated. When companies arrange events and parties to celebrate employee achievements and the company's overall progress, employees are more likely to feel recognized and encouraged to work harder.
But unfortunately, this may not be possible during COVID-19 period, where employees are forced to social distance and avoid communal parties.
Losing direct connection with friends, colleagues, and other family members can cause anxiety, resulting in demotivation of the employees.
5. Low Wages
The most common dilemma faced by support agents and IT professionals during the pandemic is the problem of low wages. This prevalent depression in the overall employee community is deepening its roots. Nowadays, more and more companies are reducing wages of customer support representatives due to less business output in the pandemic era.
If we look at U.S. workers, millions of support agents face the stress of receiving low wages. The problem is more severe in under-developed countries where most people are hardly making ends meet in the pandemic and customer support agents are no exception.
D. How Customer Support Services Can Lessen the Pandemic’s Impact
COVID-19 has caught everyone off guard, so do not get overwhelmed by the severity of problems. If you are an employee facing demotivation caused by the pandemic, consider the following words:
"To get up when you are down, to put in extra effort when you are in sheer pain, and to stand tall when everyone is pulling you; are what make a champion." (Apoorv Dubey)
Additionally, the competition has also considerably increased during the pandemic, as almost all companies are focusing on providing the best customer service, regardless of the overall circumstances. You can also boost your business’s revenue by embracing various types of self- service and automation techniques to address customer service requests.
If you are still confused on how you can provide the most flexible and transparent customer support services after the pandemic, we recommend you visit our website to learn more about committing to the best customer experience.
The pandemic’s impact on customer support is considerably large. Just like every other industry, businesses are also battling the effects of COVID-19. On one side, customer contact volumes have increased, while on the other side, reduced staffing is also becoming a problem. However, good communication and timely responses can greatly solve some of these issues. Customer support agents need to take responsibility and focus on keeping the clients happy.