Turn to Business as Unusual – The next normal
The COVID story continues to simmer and be a hot topic as businesses step into the next normal future, from thinking about it, to making it work. What to start, stop, accelerate and yet balance technology with humanity. With social proximity a far-fetched reality – at least for the foreseeable future – customer engagement and experience matter even more now. A sector that is clearly surging towards innovation in this arena are BPOs, as they ramp up their game to meet the growing number of calls and connects from customers.
Lockdowns around the world hasn’t abated dependency on calls to the helplines and therefore on contact centre. This new reality has led many companies in the ITeS industry to find solutions that allow agents to work from home, enabled by Digital Customer Experience solutions, or in simple parlance, contact center-as-a-service (CCaaS) solutions. While companies were earlier racing to delight customers and deliver transformative personalized digital experiences – through virtual agents or conversation bots, video, voice recognition – creating a perfect storm for radical innovation and disruption in the customer engagement model; in the new reality, the solution requirement was as simple as getting the right network or a laptop at the agents home to begin with. Security became another challenge in the industry, which has customers from industries like Banks and Pharma, where data and IP protection is top priority. Things like data security, ability to take screen shots or even who is working on the laptop answering the calls became an important ask. Finally, meeting the laws of the land, where laws put forth by bodies like DOT is also important.
The Indian BPO/ ITeS industry has quickly responded to the crisis and innovated rapidly to keep their services alive by allowing agents to work from their homes. According to a recent report by Accenture,
“Covid-19: Responsive customer service in times of change”, 57 per cent of the customers
surveyed ranked call support as their initial channel preference for flexible communication.
In normal times, this would be good news, but the uncertainty, coupled with long and strict ‘stay-at-home’ mandate from the Government of India has generated headlines globally, questioning the continued feasibility of India as a preferred destination for outsourcing business processes. And with unemployment soaring in markets like the US, there is a strong push to bring these processes within national boundaries once more. Moreover, how do companies ensure data security and trust, customer compassion and delight, agents do more with limited technology from the work from home ambit?
A huge question mark no doubt, but a tremendous opportunity too. A recent LiveMint article calls out how Indian BPOs are aggressively moving to digital customer experience solutions and automating to provide a branch at home experience for superior customer engagement. Clearly rising to tap the opportunity at hand.
The industry has rapidly deployed a few solutions to meet the requirements, such as:
- APPWAN (Netfoundry)- which increases the throughput of the broadband by 3-10 times on a Zero Trust architecture,
- VDI- to ensure that user compute is not compromised, while ensuring that users cannot take screen shots and similar to contact center on the cloud, where users who don’t have a laptop can log in even from their smart phone
- PPVPN- to ensure that DOT regulations are met
Lets look at a few concerns that CXOs are grappling with in today’s crisis:
Is my data secure with the home agents?
Data trust and security is certainly a top of mind concern and contact centres need to pay special attention to ensure that the agent’s devices are not being compromised locally. This is where a combination of VPN and VDI or ZTNA and VDI plays a role as touched upon earlier. VPN and ZTNA work on different levels and while the ask is to move to ZTNA model, many enterprises are still sticking with VPN architecture because of the inertia. Virtual Desktop or VDI on the other hand not only ensures that compute and licenses don’t become the bottleneck for the user, but also ensure that the user cannot copy data or take screen shots, unless allowed. Along with this, some enterprises have also enabled the users camera to either be on during the period of work or take photographs at defined intervals, to ensure that an imposter or proxy is not working in place of the employee.
How can I offer an experiential journey, rather than a transactional one?
From the first point of contact to each moment of communications leading to the sale and after, customers value the experience they have. Envision this. You are in the whitegoods retail business and your customer is exploring a washing machine on your website. Your website pops up conversation bots that direct them to the right virtual assist agent through intelligent routing. The right agent is picked up depending on the customer’s location and language preference. The agent assist guides your customer through the shopping process with a video chat, co-browsing, demos and screen sharing right up to the sale. With a mix of voice recognition, natural language processing, and artificial intelligence (AI), these agents are able to serve your customers intelligently as per their needs and reach them through sms/callback even post sales or if they drop during the process. This is the ask of today, where many companies are digitizing their sales process and the CC architecture needs to address rapidly evolving asks in an agile manner.
How do I manage Government of India regulations?
This is a big question. How can BPOs and ITeS providers connect their agents while staying compliant to DoT guidelines regarding work from home agents? As per amended clause for OSP, released in Oct 2011, DOT allows OSP’s to have agents working from home. Among other clauses, it defined that agents who are working from home can be connected via authorised Provider-Provisioned VPNs (PPVPNs) which have a defined location i.e. home of the agent and the BPO facility as defined VPN end-user sites. But, as a temporary measure, DOT has given relaxation till end of December 2020, after which BPOs need to consider their options and have a permanent solution ready. This is where a Provider Provisioned VPN (PPVPN) can help. With PPVPN, an agent’s internet connection to handed over to the MPLS cloud of the provider deliver superior, more reliable performance and a higher quality of service.
How can I ensure high performance of my agents?
From the confines of the home, it is easy for agents to get distracted or perform sub optimally. Our solution has integrated quality monitoring capabilities that allow supervisors to monitor all calls and ensure that agents maintain the compassion and satisfaction levels that customers are seeking. Our solution also offers the option of two factor authentication for customer security. When a customer signs in through a mobile app or browser a pop up shows on screen with a message from a relationship manager asking if he/she wants a face to face discussion over a video call. If the customer accepts, an OTP is sent on the mobile. The session starts only after the customer has entered the OTP. The calls are also recorded which can be used as feedback to train and re-train agents and build the skill set consistently.
Digital Customer Experience Platform: Answer to CXO’s Top-of-Mind concerns
All the above points can be put together as disparate solutions, but the ask of the CXO’s today is a Digital Customer Experience Platform, which can bring all these together- whether it is being secure, performant or meeting the laws of the land. Tata Communications has been working to deliver Secure Connected Digital Experiences for BPOs and other ITeS enterprises, enabling them to offer top-notch services to their customers. Over the last four months, we have designed a complete solution for a secure work from home environment bundling multiple technologies and platforms, delivered over cloud. Starting from enabling users to connect on PPVPN to converting physical sales into digital sales process is what we have delivered to multiple customers through this platform.
Ready for the next normal
The Indian BPO industry is at an inflection point. As the world is making active decisions on their continued commitment to outsourcing (and offshoring) their business process management functions, the opportunity is ripe for the Indian BPO industry who are well poised to meet the global needs.
By – Rajarshi Purkayastha, Head- Pre Sales, India | MECAA, Tata Communications
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