When the COVID-19 pandemic began over two years ago, no one really knew the extent to which it was going to impact the economy. Now that we’ve had time to see the impacts and begin to parse them, we have a better picture of what has changed and which of those changes are going to hold going forward—especially in the call center industry, where perhaps the largest effect has been on the call center agents themselves.
At the start of the pandemic, almost all agents began working from home. This presented a massive challenge, even for those that were already using a cloud-based dialing software that could be easily accessed from any location. Agents were now forced to solve problems by themselves that they may not have needed to before, all while trying to stay focused, present and productive in a potentially distracting environment.
As quarantines and restrictions stretched on, workers began to get used to life outside the office—which prompted many to question whether or not they were in the right industry. At the same time, agents manning the phones were faced with customers who were increasingly stressed, impatient and worried about their own jobs and families, which presented a challenge far beyond dealing with the occasional frustrated or unhappy customer. This was a lot for call center agents to deal with and not necessarily what they originally signed up for. These factors, coupled with the explosion of the gig economy and the increase in opportunities and options available for the people who may have previously chosen to work in a call center, saw employee turnover rates in call centers spike and remain high.
Low agent retention rates have prompted some companies to invest more time and money into training their agents, plus take a closer look at the agent’s day-to-day experience. This is something else that the pandemic prompted a lot of people to do—consider how, if they had the choice, they would really want to spend their days—and as a result it has forced many companies, call centers among them, to take steps to make the positions more attractive for workers. Allowing them to continue to work from home is one such step, and one that is easy for many call centers to take, as it gives employees more freedom and more options in how they choose to spend their off hours (when they aren’t being used for commuting). More effective training methods that better prepare agents for the sorts of calls and inquiries they will be dealing with on a daily basis would make a big difference as well.
COVID-19 has changed many aspects of the economy, with call centers at the top of the list. The good news: Feature-rich, cloud-based call center software like CallShaper’s can help you navigate these changes effortlessly. To learn more about how, contact us today.