Market Update Q2 2020 - Customer Service & Contact Centre

Head of Customer Service & Contact Centre, Lidya Paljk, gives her team's take on the industry for Q2 2020.

Our Customer Service team at Tribe has been kept busy this last quarter with temporary customer service roles. We’ve noticed an increase in demand for temps from clients who need additional support to help with the backlog from lockdown. We’ve also seen a rise in the number of senior customer experience roles created. This is a result of organisations needing specialists to come in and set up best practice within their customer service functions - whether that’s from a technology perspective, capability or leading teams into this new world of being omni-channel.  

The impact of COVID-19 meant we needed to support several clients in a range of industries with temporary resource. Between April and May we saw a lift in temp numbers by 30 percent and between May and June we saw a lift by 100 percent in our temp numbers – this happened as soon as we transitioned to Level 2.   

My sense is there will be a consistent need for temporary resource to help support customer service teams. There is nervousness around committing to permanent headcount in the coming two quarters and organisations are struggling to forward forecast call volumes as we live in this ‘new world’.  

There have been some big changes within organisations, here are some of the trends: 

We’ve seen a forced transition of customer service teams moving to work from home. It’s been proven to be successful as CS teams tend to be highly metric-driven and measured with their activity.   

  • Contact centres are now being forced to move to cloud and mobile to ensure teams are portable.  
  • Retail teams have been redeployed to help contact centre teams while retailers were forced to close during the pandemic. For those in retail roles, this has forced them to upskill but also make organisations think about how they can cross-train retail staff.  
  • There was rapid redeployment of contact centre staff to home, which has highlighted the importance of using cloud-based technology to enable teams to work from home, especially for essential service businesses   
  • BCP planning is more important than ever, as is having local teams. For organisations with offshore partners who were heavily impacted by coronavirus, businesses have placed high value on having back up teams in New Zealand. 

We’ve also noticed some trends from our candidates

Candidates whose roles have been affected by COVID19 are now flexible and interested to try something different. This brings a range of skills/backgrounds and it exposes candidates to explore career opportunities and businesses which they would have never considered. Different skills/backgrounds are also beneficial to clients as it brings in something new. We’ve also noticed candidates are looking into studying part-time to upskill.  

Finally, this Accenture article caught my eye about getting contact centres up and running to work remotely. Looking ahead, I think we will start to see customer service teams being set up where they can be more portable than previously. There is also more emphasis on BCP and if a business has an outsource partner, organisations will have back up functions in New Zealand. We've noted organisations with offshore partners being impacted by COVID-19 have been in situations where they have had to quickly stand up local teams to ensure customers are being taken care of.