Some time ago my colleague in the UK, Helen Billingham, wrote an interesting blog ‘weathering the storm’. It highlighted the challenges contact centres face when mother nature decides to unleash some harsher conditions upon us. This is as relevant in ANZ as it is in the UK, although as with so many things over here, it can tend to be on a larger scale.
Only recently in Australia we have had to deal with several weeks of heat above 40 degrees centigrade. Even temperatures in the middle of the night were remaining above 30 degrees. That level of heat is uncomfortable for most, but is particularly dangerous for the elderly, leading to increased engagement with the contact centres for healthcare facilities.
And while it seemingly might not rain as often here in Australia, when it does rain, it’s a deluge. Due to the rain coming down in this density, it often leads to flooding. A large percentage of local governments in ANZ (including over a third of councils in New Zealand) use Enghouse Interactive’s solutions in their contact centres, and they have told us this always leads to an increase the amount of calls they receive. They can range from advice on road and travel conditions, to requests for assistance for property damage due to high wind and rain.
But while those situations faced in Australia are a horrible experience, New Zealand takes it to the next level with environmental factors. As recently as December an earthquake hit the centre of Wellington, and inflicted a lot of damage to the city, but thankfully did not result in any loss of life.
One of our customers, Greater Wellington Regional Council, was affected with a lot of structural damage to their council offices, including the contact centre itself. GWRC’s team was relocated to other offices, and did a great job of tackling their own challenges, while assisting the wider community too.
In her blog Helen outlined the many benefits of cloud contact centre solutions in regards to these types of examples. With the data being hosted externally, it is easy for teams to relocate and get up and running elsewhere. Even if the hosting data centre is taken down by an environmental issue, most providers will have a second, and sometimes third, data centre running back up disaster recovery. So short of the providers own platform experiencing an outage, the risk is negated.
But the other thing that is of significant help in these situations is self-service. Self-service is a subject that John Cray, Enghouse Interactive’s global VP of Product Management, touched on in a recent webinar, while discussing the overall important of the customer experience, or CX.
While weather conditions can come out of the blue, they are usually periodic or regular events that bring the same unpleasant challenges each time. By going back and checking the data from the previous events, contact centres can identify what the most common calls and requests are, and what the answers and solutions are for those cases. This information can then be supplied in a more user friendly self-service way, such as re-positioning it to a more prominent place, for example the front page of a website to enable a single click solution.
This delivers hugely beneficial effects.
First and foremost, it enables people to easily and quickly access the information they need, and get a resolution. That in turn reduces the call volumes coming into the contact centre, allowing the agents to concentrate on other requests for assistance that are not as easily solved. Self-service delivers a better customer service and experience for both the callers and the contact centre, and that is something that we all want to achieve.