Caring for Customers During a Pandemic

The COVID-19 crisis is reshaping the consumer mindset. How to retain trust and loyalty for the post-pandemic world.

Contact Center PipelineThe impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been multilayered, creating widespread fear and stress over health and safety, income, finances, child care, elder care and the economy. In just a matter of weeks, lifestyles were dramatically altered, businesses shuttered and global markets tanked. Contact centers abandoned carefully structured strategies and processes in the scramble to set up work-from-home customer service staff to try to stem the flood of calls. Some sectors fared better than others, but even with all hands on deck, callers complained of hold times that had mushroomed from seconds to minutes, dozens of minutes and even hours.

It’s not surprising that emotions have been running high for customers and frontline staff alike—or that COVID-19-related worries have been seeping into customer conversations. During a crisis, we all feel the need to connect with other humans. Yet social distancing mandates are isolating people at a time when they most need human compassion.

As customers seek comforting words in their time of need, many are finding allies among the customer service and support staff of the companies they do business with—and vice versa. As a result, many centers are experiencing longer-than-normal handle times.

It is a theme that CallMiner Chief Operating Officer ADAM WALTON has heard from quite a few contact center clients recently. “There is a huge amount of mutual empathy being shared around the current situation, often initiated by the agents,” he explains. “A significant part of the conversation focuses on the challenge that everyone is facing at this time, coupled with increasing call complexity. Issues are coming up now that weren’t being talked about three months ago because they weren’t relevant. Agents have to learn how to handle new situations that would have been rare in the past.”

Read how Speech Analytics is providing a Pandemic Pulse Check for fast changing conditions