The Impact Of COVID-19 On Contact-Centres

  • October 29, 2020

The COVID-19 outbreak came as a shock to us all, transforming our lives in ways that we could never have imagined. Unfortunately, as we are all beginning to comprehend, the disruption is far from over. With infection rates rising again, new measures have been introduced across many regions to help reduce the spread.

Call centres were hit especially hard by the pandemic at the beginning of the first lockdown back in March. With most companies closing their doors for several months, these hubs of communication became the only point of contact for many UK businesses. This meant that call centre staff were forced to deal with an influx of calls at very short notice. This was especially true for businesses that became vital during the pandemic. Call centre staff working for food manufacturers, eCommerce companies and, most of all, suppliers to the NHS, found themselves fielding hundreds of complex enquiries, often from customers in a state of panic or anger. Due to the pandemic coming with very little warning, many of these call centres weren’t able to increase their staffing levels in preparation, therefore making life even harder for their existing employees.

To make things worse, the safety measures introduced in the wake of the outbreak limited staffing-levels further. Call centres struggled to operate at full capacity due to social distancing guidelines and, although it was possible to redirect calls to remote staff, this involved installing and getting to grips with new systems that were not always reliable and readily-available. Redirecting calls to home workers also relied on home internet connections, which tend to be slower than business-grade broadband.

The upshot of this was simple mathematics: there were more calls coming in and less staff to answer them, thus leading to an increase in customer waiting times. Although consumers tended to be tolerant of this disruption in the early stages of the pandemic, many eventually ran out of patience. It is likely that many businesses ended up losing customers through no fault of their own, but because it simply was impossible to answer their calls quickly enough.

Things are definitely better now than they were at the beginning of the first lockdown, but the future remains uncertain. With more local lockdowns growing week by week, now is a good time to plan ahead. We can help you to find reliable candidates who boast contact-centre experience for either permanent or temporary positions, so you can be fully prepared for an increase in demand. Beyond this, we can offer remote support for training and onboarding, so you can be assured that your new staff will be able to handle anything. Get in touch today for more details.