The unique nature of the lockdown earlier this year had a dramatic impact on a variety of industries, but with flights cancelled, restaurants closed, and toilet paper in short supply it was call centres that were on the frontline of customer concerns. As the UK edges towards a second wave, will the industry be better prepared?

The unprecedented nature of the shutdown in March left millions of us worried, confused, and looking for answers. Schools were closed, many businesses paused operations entirely, and millions of people began trying to work from home. And just as call centres themselves were trying to move to a more virtual setup the volumes of called received increased by as much as 600 per cent in some locations. It was chaos for many businesses, with some forced to respond by asking customers to call back in 72 hours in order to alleviate the queues.

Luckily, however, much has changed in the intervening six months. Whilst the virus may be back in circulation and another lockdown on the cards, both businesses and the public are better prepared. Call centres in particular have embraced new technologies to change how their businesses operate, and now stand ready to support any spike in calls levels that may arise in the coming weeks.

Many of the teething problems of moving towards a more virtualised call centre setup have been solved, with employees now better supported to receive calls at home. Even more critical, however, have been the implementations of artificial intelligence to more efficiently understand the needs of the caller and to best direct them.

When a customers calls a contact centre in the UK today, those that have invested in these new technologies can use natural language processing to accurately determine what a customer or client wants before directly them to the right person to solve their issue, with some even able to identify customers via voice biometrics so you no longer have to go through five minutes of verification questions before getting to the solution.

We may not know what the second wave will bring, but thankfully with the experience of March behind we are all now better prepared for whatever may come.


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