Energy Professionals Must Flatten the Contact Center Curve In A Post-COVID-19 World

image credit: zappix
Johnny Rosa's picture
Marketing Manager, Zappix

Johnny is the Marketing Manager at Zappix, the leading provider of Visual IVR, creating technology to increase customer self-service, reduce calls to live contact-center agents, and lower costs...

  • Member since 2019
  • 8 items added with 13,522 views
  • May 21, 2020

This item is part of the Utility Customer Care - Spring 2020 SPECIAL ISSUE, click here for more

As the energy sector manages the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, the contact centers that handle their customer service have emerged as a critical piece of CX.

The global Coronavirus pandemic has fundamentally changed our lives. Quarantines and closures have changed how we all do business. The path forward is difficult, but modern technology is helping energy providers find success. Energy professionals are working on multiple fronts to combat the impact of the virus and contact center CX has emerged as a critical component.

During this time of crisis, first and foremost the health and safety of everyone should be priority number one. Employees, customers, our families. As businesses handle the impact of COVID-19 by shifting to work from home (WFH) if possible and take precautions to ensure safety, a combination of increased call volumes and decreased capacity could lead to unwanted CX outcomes. Flattening the contact center curve to make sure customer service isn’t driven beyond call center capacity is critical to operating smoothly and efficiently today.

“Making sure customer service isn’t driven beyond call center capacity is critical to maintaining CX and operating efficiently today.”

Flattening the Contact Center Curve

Maintaining the customer service experience is easier said than done in our brave new world of WFH and business disruptions. COVID-19 means contact centers around the world are facing increased call volumes while their capacity is typically decreased. With the playbooks customer service managers have relied on for years becoming less relevant, how does customer service adapt?

Modern customers demand fast, easy to use CX. Call center managers must flatten the contact center curve so their agents can continue delivering a great customer experience and prevent call centers from being overwhelmed by increasing inbound call volume beyond their capacity.


Self-Service Is The Solution

Self-service may just be the perfect answer to this situation. When contact centers know which call types are most impactful, they can deploy automation and self-service tools to make those prominent use cases faster, more convenient, and less stressful for callers.

As we all adapt to WFH, digital self-service solutions can be powerful tools for increasing convenience and empowering customers and agents while deflecting unnecessary calls away from agents and flattening the contact center curve. Four self-service solutions can help energy providers make sure their call centers can handle the high volumes of calls:

1. Visual IVR: Revolutionary Visual IVR solutions deliver self-service automation to callers on traditional voice IVR journeys. By identifying common call types like Account Management, Bill Payment and Lookup, and others energy providers can quickly and easily deflect a large number of calls away from agents. Visual IVR launches in just a couple of weeks and compatible with any back-end system.

2. Proactive Self-Service Engagement: Energy providers deploying proactive communication and omnichannel access via digital links to self-service solutions are preventing potential callers from even picking up the phone. This can be done through QR codes on mailed literature, links on company websites, and proactive communication via text notifications or email messages. By proactively delivering self-service like knowledge bases and FAQs to customers, energy professionals are taking control of the contact center situation.

3. On-Hold Solutions: When customers do have to wait on hold to speak with live agents, energy leaders can make sure that time is productive and not wasted. The same technology that delivers practical automation to callers via Visual IVR can help callers resolve their issues while waiting on hold, without losing their place in the queue. If callers solve their issue, the call ends and valuable live agent time can be spent with other customers. If callers don’t resolve their issue via On-Hold self-service, all the information gathered while on-hold like account ID, billing information, etc. can be passed to live agents, dramatically reducing the average handle time (AHT) and empowering the agent for fast, successful interaction.

4. Agent Assist Solutions: New challenges emerge when working from home or adapting to our new situation. For example, restrictions on agents collecting important pieces of information like credit card data, or the need to provide detailed information related to COVID-19. Digital agent assist solutions help agents to resolve interactions faster and more efficiently. Agents can deploy rich digital solutions: text a link to the caller with a video FAQ, a form to complete, or provide a secure channel to submit credit card details.

Benefits of Self-Service

By leveraging modern technology energy providers can begin to tackle the current contact center situation. COVID-19 has rapidly accelerated many businesses’ digital transformation projects. Automated customer self-service must be high up on the list. The global COVID-19 pandemic is changing the way we all do business, but automated self-service technology is paving the way out of the chaos for contact center managers ready to lean into Visual IVR and intelligent virtual agents.

“Reduced Average Handling Time (AHT) and increased First Call Resolution (FCR) means more successful customer experiences and increased convenience for customers already stressed out by the global pandemic — improving Customer Satisfaction (CSAT).”

Strained under the weight of switching to WFH and faced with a wave of increased call volumes, agents assisted by integrated self-service tools can focus on complex calls where their skills are most important and spend the time required to handle complex interactions. With more and more calls being handled efficiently and effectively, contact centers can accurately deploy resources where they’re needed. The path forward towards a post-COVID-19 world will be hard, but automated customer self-service will help pave the way for energy providers.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on May 21, 2020

What an interesting topic-- the flattening of the curve parallels are incredibly clear. And while flattening the curve of hospital care capacity is obviously way higher stakes than flattening the curve of utility customer service calls, there are a lot of lessons that can be learned. Luckily the digital tools for utilities are out there for utilization, and hopefully this crisis will leave utilities better prepared to address unexpected events like this in the future!

Johnny Rosa's picture
Thank Johnny for the Post!
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