How to Reduce Stress on Your Contact Center During and After COVID-19

Posted by Kathy Sobus on May 5, 2020 10:00:00 AM

What is that one question that you’re answering repeatedly, every day?

If you’re like most agencies or companies, you’ve been dealing with a tremendous increase in calls. One of my twenty-somethings filed for unemployment when this first began. When he got through, they offered (and kept) a callback scheduled for a week later. A week? That’s crazy town!

Subsequently, he’s called back to ask for status. When he wasn’t being blocked by the CO (fast busy), he was again faced with the menu choices and hold times that just disconnected him after 30 minutes. He has time on his hands, so guess what? He called back again.

This type of behavior is flooding our phone lines. Even if your automated response is “check our website,” it’s probably not working.

So, I ask you again: What is that one question?

It could be any of the following:

  • Where’s my check?
  • Where’s the nearest testing site?
  • Are you open?
  • What are the hours of operation?

And rest assured, in 30-60-90 days, it will be something else.

We’re all impacted. In my small (but great) state of Delaware, we reported the online filing system crashing for about four hours. Articles highlighted the long wait times and reports of unanswered emails—a tech failure. I hardly believe it was a tech failure, but perhaps more so the result of a lack of preparation to accommodate the volumes we’re seeing: “Our phone lines just didn’t have capacity.” The article continued by saying the Department of Labor quintupled the staff, but it still wasn’t enough.

The same week, the Texas Workforce Commission had 14 million requests in a single week. I’m sure what you’re experiencing is probably somewhere between both of these states. 

Megan Cassella and Katy Murphy shared on Politico.com that, “In Michigan, the state unemployment filing system crashed this week because it was overloaded. In California, it may take much longer than usual for hundreds of thousands of jobless people to get their benefits. In New York, one laid-off worker says she called the state labor department 800 times before getting through.”

High volume, not enough capacity… what should you do?

My twenty-something would have wanted to interact with a virtual assistant, either on the website or through a mobile application. This would provide some level of response that would satisfy his needs and prevent him from calling back continuously. There are many solutions available today through a Software as a Service (SaaS)-based model that can offload some of these calls and provide immediate benefit.

So, I ask you once more: What is that one question that, if you could answer it, would reduce your volume significantly? Focus on this answer and you can alleviate some of the stress on your current system and inform your constituents, members, customers, or patients more quickly and easily.



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Topics: Contact Center, Customer Experience, COVID-19