Though unwise, it was very easy to ignore calls to develop a business continuity plan during periods of fortune. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, companies are seeing the consequences of their inactivity. They are unprepared for the changing realities of the workplace, and unable to swiftly satisfy their customers.
It is time to rethink the approach, not only to support work-from-home in the near-term but to ensure your CX remains strong in the face of future risk.
To provide customer-centric organizations with viable work-from-home solutions throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, CCW Digital has recently been in contact with Arise Virtual Solution Inc, the pioneer of work-from-home solutions in the contact center. According to Arise, recent studies indicate that the coronavirus could affect over 5 million businesses worldwide. That prediction is growing rapidly by the day, as there’s no complete or definitive timeframe of the COVID-19 pandemic’s long-term impact on GDP or the global economy.
(As seen in an Arise case study)
As the novel coronavirus continues to make headlines, many can’t help but think of the 1995 thriller Outbreak. Starring well-recognized actors Dustin Hoffman, Rene Russo, and Morgan Freeman, the film focuses on an outbreak of a fictional Ebola-like virus in Zaire, and later in a small town in the United States.
The plot speculates how far military and civilian agencies might go to contain the spread of a deadly, contagious disease. However, it is not the incredible acting that stands out most with this film, it’s the incredible reality that it is based on Richard Preston's nonfiction book The Hot Zone and the real-life spread of incurable disease between Central Africa and the United States. As mentioned in an Arise blog, the ten largest contact centers in the United States employ nearly 355,000 people; and while most of the largest contact centers in the United States belong to recognized brands in the Fortune 150, number one on the list is a BPO that employs contact center agents in 14 countries in 130 locations with more than 100,000 employees. Touting numerous healthcare companies, travel organizations, retailers, and more as its clients, this one outsourcer could easily turn Outbreak, the movie, into reality.
On December 31, 2019 China alerted the World Health Organization (WHO) to several cases of “unusual pneumonia” in Wuhan. Less than 10 weeks later, the stock market faced its worst week since the 2008 financial crisis.
The travel industry has been upended with over $30 billion in losses for airlines alone. Container lines have lost upwards of $400 million and over 500,000 boxes have been removed from global trade lines since the outbreak started. Companies of all kinds are readjusting their annual profit expectations given the pandemic’s influence on behavioral economics, in a frantic attempt to gain clarity in financial forecasts.
As the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) has issued interim guidance for businesses and employers to plan and respond to COVID-19, it is now coming to a point where, if your organization has not implemented WFH policies, it will now receive public scrutiny (if not legal liability) for health and safety issues. Still, many organizations remain overworked and overwhelmed as they scramble to find alternative solutions to ensure contact centers remain open and sustainable for all customers.
Many are considering moving their brick and mortar contact center operations to a virtual environment; however, the need to address proper time management, quality assurance and suitable oversight of agents, continuous learning and upskills, technology implementation, and proper communications are driving even greater concern for business leaders. Those who focus on customer experience are faced with numerous challenges as they desperately attempt to ensure customer trust and loyalty.
“The combination of physical contact centers and the unpredictability of this virus can put a lot of people at risk,” Robert Padron, Executive Vice President and Chief Growth Officer at Arise Virtual Solutions, recently told us. “CX leaders need to find a balance between the proper levels of support while also ensuring employees are not at risk.”
Over 25 years ago, Arise Virtual Solutions envisioned the cloud-based technologies that could unite work-from-home customer care service partners with large companies to deliver future-proof scalability and incredible day, week and event flexibility (truly pioneering work-from-home contact center technology). With customer trust and loyalty in mind, the Arise Platform offers business continuity to all those who require customer support services, particularly in times of crisis. Arise’s efforts are already well-tested and underway in preparation of support to any business or social disruption that is associated with COVID-19.
As seen in a recent CCW Digital article featuring firsthand insights from Adidas’ President of Golf, Jeff Lienhart, a study reported by the WSJ, consisting of CEOs and senior executive participants, found that digital transformation (DT) risk was the #1 concern in 2019, among other imperative topics like cyber threats and office culture. On the estimated $1.2 trillion spent on DT in 2019, nearly $900 billion went to waste. (Let these stats sink in, given the current pandemic in 2020).
Technology is changing the nature of agent/caller interactions. With multi-channel offerings such as voice, email, chat, text, and social media, the challenge is to not just identify the best tech, but to find ways to optimize interactions between humans, bots and other software. Never has such concepts been more imperative than in the current state of today’s contact center.
The Arise Platform is specifically engineered to simplify business functions and be an all-in-one solution for superior performance. It is a robust option for businesses to meet customer demands, 24/7/365, with tremendous personalization, speed, and scalability during hectic times.
“Take a look at what’s happening right now. You have government organizations recommending social distancing to stop the spread of coronavirus; but how can you do that with a brick and mortar contact center? People work in proximity, often sharing phones, cubicles spaces, computers, making agents significantly more susceptible to the virus,” says Padron.
“You can’t keep the physical contact center open because you don’t want to risk your agents; but you can’t close it because you can’t risk your customers.”
“So, now organizations are scrambling. They’re trying to determine whether or not they should implement a work-at-home program or outsource to a BPO provider. They’re overworked and overwhelmed trying to find alternative solutions.”
The Arise Platform offers access to a totally different service partner, equipped to cooperate alongside a digital, remote infrastructure, capable of meeting the demands of not modern-day, but futuristic customer support.
Additionally, Arise offers it’s Limitless Learning solution, a form of learning that utilizes cloud-based services for delivery, interaction, facilitation, demonstration and evaluation of learning material to ensure customer-facing resources have every tool they need for a successful interaction. Taking into consideration today’s adult learning principles, Arise incorporates several dimensions of learning like auditory, visual and kinesthetic into one platform. Instructors are equipped with both a traditional and modern-day skill set to keep learners engaged. The Arise Platform provides companies highly effective processes and procedures to aid in communications and rigorous monitoring of performance.
The company’s award-winning Starmatic® Scheduling System allows Service Partners using the platform to schedule in 30-minute intervals to ensure the greatest levels of flexibility and on demand burst capacity at scale. Security is of utmost importance, especially during pandemonium.
CX leaders need to build the right contingency plans to mitigate disastrous times by implementing innovative tools.
Service Partners on the Arise Platform have ramped over 400% for one retail client and 250% for another. They’ve delivered variation seasonal FTE capacity of 65% and intraday attainment in excess of 100%, by 30-minute intervals.
In terms of sales, one client was able to generate more than $150 million in revenue last year using the Arise Platform, with a direct sales conversion rate that topped 25% and an upsell rate of more than 70%.
Service Partners on the platform have vastly reduced customer complaints by improving the support issue resolution rate 21% ahead of target.
With thousands of experienced Service Partners in the Arise Network, numerous client programs across a number of industries, a depth and breadth of experience, and an arsenal of subject matter experts, the Arise Platform is poised to ensure success.
“Voice, email, chat, SMS, IVR, social media, we can handle any channel at any time,” Padron states.
Over the years, Arise has helped some of the biggest brands on the planet and “each program has been incredibly rewarding,” Padron described to us. Although COVID-19 may be the largest pandemic any contact center or solution provider has ever faced, this is not Arise’s first BCP challenge.
It was 2017 and Hurricane Irma was seriously impacting the travel and hospitality industry in Florida. A lot of travelers were stranded and in need of support.
“One of our clients didn’t want to put their employees at risk, so they made the tough decision to shut down their physical contact center. The client requested the Arise Platform to access over 14,000 additional hours to cover all lines of business; and they gave us less than 48 hours’ notice.” Right away, Arise put out a call for urgent service and notified Service Partners of all service time available. It was posted and responded to within 10 minutes; an unprecedented amount of time.
For 72 hours, the Arise Platform supported the closure of two internal contact centers. During that time, Service Partners were able to flex 137%, on average, across three lines of business to absorb both forecasted and unexpected service time. “The Arise Platform handled an additional 11,000 calls across all lines of business from the amount handled in the previous year and answered 98.72% of offered calls.”
“It was an incredible effort!” Padron recalls. Even in uncharted waters during times of distress and uncertainty, it’s important to stay connected. If you’re a customer-centric organization frightened by the current COVID-19 pandemic, or general state of the economy that the pandemonium has caused, you have every right to be. But know that you are not alone. Arise Virtual Solutions and the CCW Digital community will be here for you, providing you with Customer Experience, Contact Center, and Digital Marketing resources every step of the way. In remote working environments and challenging economic circumstances, remember to lean on your digital and virtual communities to come out stronger on the other side.