During these unprecedented times, millions of jobs have been lost, and for this, coverage hours due as of result of COVID-19. As a customer here’s some insight as to what’s happening to companies behind the scenes. It’s important to understand what companies are dealing with but may not be able to tell you directly.
As a customer we can expect the following from most companies
- Much higher than normal wait-times because customers who can reach a company may take up more time
- Companies may switch for email or chat-only support models
- Reduced response times due to CSR shortages
- Phone systems may be turned off and on to manage incoming call traffic
- Agents might be using their own cellphones to talk to customers
Here’s what’s going on behind the scenes of companies who are still in business despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Working from Home
Government and companies are taking action against the COVID-10 Pandemic by mandating to stay at home and to use social distancing to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. As of result of this, companies that are essential and non-essential can still operate their business from the comfort of their home. What this allows companies to play their part in preventing the spread of the COVID-19; however, others who don’t have the luxury of working from home have found themselves without work because their role is customer-facing.
With companies having their customer-base greatly reduced, they are in a position that they cannot keep CSRs employed. As of result of this over a 15+ million jobs have been lost because customers cannot support their local businesses. Thus, companies have limited option to stay open, so CSRs that are still employed are facing the very real possibility to be out work soon, or have reduced hours.
With companies not being able to stay profitable, they have to take preemptive measures to save money, time, and other resources so that their business goes not get shut down permanently. As of result of this many have to offer reduced hours to compensate for not having enough customers to support their business. From having reduced staff, hours, this could either mean less work, or an overwhelming amount of work.
Overwhelmed with work
If a company is on life support the workload could be exactly the same, and as of result of that a company could very well be working with a skeletal crew to keep the lights on at home or in a small office. This can lead to confusion, depression, frustration that there’s no end in sight for the pandemic. From being overwhelmed with work, this can make customer service delivery suffer because CSRs will be under extra stress because they do not have the luxury to quit to find something else. As of result of this many CSRs could be experiencing depression or worse during these difficulty times for the world.
With mass layoff, and eminent termination for some companies, major adjustments have to be made in order to schedules have to be made to accommodate a reduced workforce and operating budget. This of course will unfortunately inconvenience customers have may not be able to reach a company during normal business hours.
No updated or clear info on how to handle service delivery during pandemic crisis
As governments are taking a strong stance to close down non-essential businesses, and those companies who still offer customer service support are simply reacting to the crisis, and working with what they have. However, the biggest issue is that most companies do not have a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) in place to adapt to doing service remotely or with reduced staff.
An example of this is that a company may need 10 workers to handle shipping, but this number could be reduced to just 2 or 3, who just happen to have limited knowledge about who shipping works. This creates a backlog work
Less support from management
As companies adjust to changes around COVID-19, CSRs might be in a position that they have less and less support from their management team. This can lead to major confusion, and disruption of service because management might itself dealing with non-customer related issues. For example, a manager of a contact center might have to assist other staff or departments to manage the heavy workload from COVID-19 disruption.
When calling a company that you have had issues getting a hold of, do your best to keep cool, and to understand that it’s not the CSR’s fault for the long wait times During a time a crisis we can all band together to get through difficult times, and we can all do our part by being mindful of the limitation and the humanity of those answering calls, email chat or even social media.