Contact Centres in the time of Covid-19

The NZ Herald today (Saturday 25 April) points out the hitherto unseen risks of outsourcing call centres in the Philippines and India.

Poor technology and a weak national telecommunications infrastructure have left contact centres in these countries struggling under the Covid-19 lockdown.

In sharp contrast to this, my company Telnet – New Zealand’s largest locally owned contact centre operator – seamlessly transitioned our team to remote working under lockdown thanks to our proprietary technology ContactSuite and a strong national broadband infrastructure.

And, we have achieved this without a fall in service quality. Indeed, through this period our service delivery metrics (which include waiting times, completion of enquiries and customer ratings) are consistently above target levels and better than they were prior to the lockdown.

Meanwhile, contact centre operators in these countries talk about the answer to the problem being a rapid deployment of ChatBots and other Artificial Intelligence.

While these new communications will probably be developed faster as a result of the pandemic, a significant part of any superior customer experience delivery will continue to be the phone call.

The reality is that when something goes wrong customers like to talk to a real person. As recently as 2019 in a Customer Contact Week Survey, 64% of organisations reported that the customer should have easy access to a live agent.

Our staff are really enjoying working at home in the lockdown, with 70% indicating that they would like to continue working this way post lockdown.

I put this down to not only the ease with which they can work with ContactSuite, but also our other really important wrap around tools. These include Knowledge Management systems giving fast access to all the information needed to solve customer queries quickly, and the social tools we use to ensure the whole team remains “in touch” with each other. Even our e-learning systems make clever use of avatars to make learning interesting and entertaining

The power of ContactSuite is in its simplicity and the way it helps the frontline agent avoid switching to other systems and programs to get the job done. 

By allowing fully tailored data capture screens, which already incorporate knowledge searches, process automation, and API connectivity to other systems, agents can often stay within the same single “pane of glass” to manage their day and all the interactions with customers.  

Being a pure web based solution and not relying on any installation, browser plugin, VPN or any IT hardware other than a PC or Mac means it’s easy and quick for our people to get up and running in a home environment.

Anyone reading this might think that all sounds great but how long does it take to get up and running. The answer is no time at all. We recently deployed a significant sized new client within 24 hours. 

Admittedly, this was thanks to some very committed staff who worked through the night to get the job done!

Whilst Telnet is also actively working on future artificial intelligence, right now we continue to deliver superior customer experiences via the essential phone, web, text, and email channels via remote working. 

For further information on how Telnet can assist you with delivering great customer experiences in the new remote working world, please feel free to send me an email at