In the harshest months of the pandemic, the customer contact or support units almost had to reinvent themselves completely. His role was not limited only to help with a purchase setback, with a product or to receive complaints. In some cases it enabled a new sales channel and in others it forced the transformation of an entire department into digital and remote. The COVID crisis has virtualized the economy as a whole. Tools such as chatbot or automation were not enough to meet the expectations of customers changed due to a virus. Companies have had to adapt to a new digital deal with users; and nothing suggests that it is a specific trend, but that it will remain in the long term.
As José María Pérez Melber, CEO of Atento for EMEA, explains, the digital economy has grown by around 500% during the health emergency, making customer service a valuable tool as a means of communicating with the user. The problem is that all this environment has moved to the remote, to the digital world, because the physical has almost no place in the middle of a pandemic. “The client is much more demanding right now with the companies. It is necessary to balance both worlds, but a good part of the structure, especially those that generate sales, are found online ”, he specified during the meeting How to transform the relationship with the client in the post-covid world, organized by Retina and Cinco Días in collaboration with Atento.
Whether we were ready or not, digitization has reached every corner of companies. Although much of the business depended on physical sales, for months it has been necessary to rethink how to stay afloat by modifying the available solutions. And at this crossroads customer service has developed. In the words of Mosiri Cabezas, Ikea’s director of business development and digital transformation, reality has shown that without technology it is impossible to compete on equal terms. “Our call center has gone beyond addressing problems or providing information. Now they help with the sale, especially of more sophisticated products. This was unthinkable in another context ”, he says.
In the midst of the debate, explicitly or implicitly, the idea of placing the customer at the center remains. Send at all times. If organizations don’t adapt to your demands, the future looks bleak. Technology provides an invaluable help on this path to meet your expectations and demands. More in an age where digitization is non-negotiable and has accelerated like never before. “The schedules have disappeared. Each client applies their availability as they want. It is time to decide what we serve with people and what not. These changes have come to stay ”, argues Sonia Granados, head of marketing and clients at Cepsa.
Apart from having a technology capable of serving users how and where they want, this work does not only depend on a single department. It is a strategy that appeals to the entire organization. From a joint effort with which to gather information of great value for the future of the business. The pandemic has changed the way companies connect with users. “We have to be more proactive than reactive. Customer service cannot be seen as a cost center, but rather as an investment area. The most important thing for the client is ease and accessibility ”, Edurne de Oteiza, director of marketing and operations at Wallapop, says.
Such a volatile moment in user behavior opens a door to trying new tools. Innovation makes more sense than ever, especially since the benefits can be higher than in a normal context. Understanding what the customer needs and when is now easier thanks to the fact that the technology is operational 24 hours a day. “Let’s do proofs of concept and see what happens, how to assess the interaction and relationship that arises between a chatbot and a consumer. Let’s try to hyper-personalize what you want with the data collected through the different channels ”, suggested Susana Cabada, director of transformation and digital change management at Liberbank.
With the intention of surviving a present with a view to the future, it seems clear that managing complexity has become an obligation for call centers. This is precisely where the user demands more solutions and dealing with a person. Addressing transformation does not mean letting go of the human factor. Rather, assess in which circumstances an automated option is preferable or not. Leave behind the idea that technology will always be better than any worker. “We are building something new. We must keep the best of both worlds, but without going back to what was before. We have to adapt to the new reality, putting the customer at the center, who is the one who leads the way ”, concludes Kristof Vanooteghem, director of customer service at AXA Spain.