From telehealth to finance, contact centers have seen record-breaking call and contact volumes
For the past ten months, we have observed inexplicable amounts of change in the society in which we live. Sometimes for the better, and sometimes for worse. Companies have had to adapt to utilizing innovations they were not used to in a pre-pandemic culture. Yet today, countless organizations rely on such technologies to power their communication with customers.
From contact centers to telehealth visits with doctors via video chat, the cloud communications landscape is permanently altered because of the pandemic. This is the context in which I met with Vonage VP of Product and Solutions Marketing, Brian Gilman. We sat down to discuss vertical markets in the business cloud space and how they have evolved throughout the COVID age.
Communications is the spine of all industries, and Gilman said Vonage saw several niche industries that had to fundamentally overhaul the way they communicate over the past nine or so months to keep up with demand. Healthcare is, by far, the most impacted industry of all the markets we examined. Though telehealth has been around for over a decade, Gilman said it took a pandemic for a comprehensive revamp in the way that physicians approach primary care.
Retail is another market that’s witnessed an alteration in the way customers connect with contact center agents, especially as brick and mortar businesses shut down. To this point, Gilman added: “They’ve had to intensify their online services because customers could either shop online or not at all.”
Finance, the third and final market we discussed, is another ballgame altogether. “We saw massive call spikes in this area, which we also saw in healthcare, and in retail, but finance is different.” Gilman said finance is distinctive for various reasons – adding that it was at first ‘panic-ridden,’ then the shift was to folks who could not pay their mortgage, which led to ‘huge call spikes,’ long wait times, and sometimes just reaching a message to ‘try again later.’
“Businesses in this sector had to figure out how to deal with this change in consumption.” This, he added, was largely driven by a hard change in communications. Suddenly, there were self-service options put in place to reduce call times, etc. Gilman said that forcing this kind of behavioral change for something everyone assumed would be ‘just a few weeks’ would be no trifle of an endeavor, but not impossible.
What was once a forced interaction is now a convenience, and people do not have to go food shopping or even to their doctor because they recognize the convenience of how things happen now, according to Gilman. Before the crisis, there were a lot of progressive ‘digital-native’ companies that transformed the way we do business, companies like Uber, Lyft, etc. In a post-COVID-19 reality, this list will continue to grow as companies adapt to survive.
“Companies have to find new ways to interact with consumers, as they now expect something different, and the harsh reality is that if you do not adapt, you may not be relevant in the future”
Gilman added, “We are working closely with our customers to help them adjust to this new normal. Our growing ecosystem of partners have also helped drive these accelerated transformations – from customizing solutions unique to each business vertical to playing a hands-on role in driving swift implementations to ensure long term customer success.”
Determining who prevails and who fails comes down to an uncomplicated concept – meeting customers where they are, not where you want them to be, or where you want to be, but finding every possible means of communication and offering it as a point of contact, to accommodate all customers. For instance, offer chat, email, social media, WhatsApp, and other forms of support to extend a high-quality omnichannel communications experience, which could be the difference between staying relevant and becoming out-of-date.