Now that “social distancing” has become the new normal, companies both large and small have sent their employees home. Companies operating in the financial services and healthcare spaces with in-house call center facilities, as well as Outsourced Business Services (OBS) companies dedicated solely to the call center business are on the front line of this disruption, as call centers typically depend on the physical presence of agents.
Any call centers whose employees continue to report to work must be vigilant as they guard the health of their workers. Follow all legal guidelines and common sense practices.
Opportunities for OBS companies with dedicated call centers will come from clients that have sent their in-house call center operators home. Because these clients will continue to require coverage, they are asking their dedicated OBS call center partners to help fill in the void.
These opportunities are most easily accessed by dedicated OBS call centers that had already invested in technology enabling their own staff to work at home. These dedicated OBS call centers should reach out to clients and prospects who have suspended operations at their in-house call center facilities. There is a pronounced need for remote call center operations, and they will be rendering a service by promoting their ability to fill this need.
OBS dedicated call centers without remote capabilities have choices to make:
- Continue to bring workers into the workplace as they serve their clients’ call center needs, while taking every action to guard workers’ health. Active vigilance should be the watchword.
- Investigate the possibility of bringing on technology that will enable the call center to develop remote capabilities. This action will enable the call center to meet its clients’ needs, while blocking potential client defections to call centers with remote capabilities.
- Subcontract clients’ call center needs to a call center with remote capabilities. Of course, this strategy must be thought through carefully because the call center will run the risk of introducing its client to a competitor.
Following the global economic crisis of 2008, former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Paul Volcker said, “never let a good crisis go to waste.” The same can be said about the Coronavirus’ effect on the call center space. The crisis will at some point subside. Gradually, we all get back to business as usual.
However, this crisis should not be wasted. Weather events will continue to occur. Other health crises will erupt. A national emergency could potentially be declared. Both dedicated call centers and OBS companies with in-house call center facilities should take steps now to acquire remote capabilities. How this is executed will depend on individual management teams. What is important is for a plan of action to be in place.
We recommend forming a task force including outsourced and in-house call center leadership, along with strategic partners and trade association leadership, to identify best practices for this forward-reaching initiative.
Count us in.
Michael Lamm, Managing Partner at Corporate Advisory Solutions