What happens now? After the dramatic changes we have seen throughout 2020, how do we know if we’re well prepared for the rest of 2021? If you take a look at the Gartner strategic predictions for 2021, there are dramatic challenges coming soon. These include neurotrophic computing, DNA storage, and a dramatic wave of automation, but how does this impact the customer service industry?
To start with, we of course need to take a step back and consider the challenges of 2020 and the Covid-19 pandemic. Most contact center operators had business continuity plans for other potential events – earthquakes, power outages, etc. – so the immediate priority is to now include pandemics in these plans.
Initially, there is a need to plan for a prolonged extension of the disruption from 2020. There is a great deal of positive news about vaccines, but the optimism has to be tempered with some realism too. It will still take some time for widespread vaccinations, especially in developing nations, how effective will those vaccines be for what period of time, and what happens if a large percentage of a population declines a vaccine?
So we can’t plan for 2021 as a return to normal. The first assumption has to be that customer service processes will continue to be disrupted from normal operating procedures. However, what we need to now be planning for is the opportunity to change in 2021 – to get closer to normal than the lockdowns of 2020.
Ultimately, companies need to start planning their customer service processes so they can build resilience into the way these services are delivered. I believe that this will lead to changes in many RFPs in 2021 and possible even some major changes in the suppliers being chosen. Some clients will have been disappointed by their CX partner’s performance during the lockdowns.
Multisourcing will be back on the agenda. This was a popular customer service strategy about five years ago when advisers, such as Gartner, all advised brands to stop placing all their eggs in one basket – move beyond using one contact center and one contact center operator. That advice seems extremely wise when we have seen what happened in 2020. Multisourcing will be back as companies seek to spread their customer experience processes across more than a single supplier and often in more than a single geography.
Instead of working with a single giant customer service partner, adding a smaller and more agile partner into the mix through a multisourcing contract creates more flexibility and – most importantly – more resilience.
For American brands using nearshore customer service solutions it should be possible to consider working with one partner in Colombia and then another in Guatemala and combining the services of both CX specialists to build a far more robust and resilient customer service operation.
In the past, many brands have shied away from this type of operation because greater volume in one place can lead to greater discounts, but those discounts are worthless if a lockdown closes all the contact centers in that location. In 2021, we are going to see a much stronger focus on how to build robust distributed customer service solutions and that will involve distributed partnerships.
Let me know what you think. 2020 has been a year like no other, so there is a broad range of predictions for 2021. What do you think will happen in nearshore customer service? Leave a comment here or get in touch via my LinkedIn.