Customer services strengthened their position during the pandemic. Call centre experts showed readiness to help in a crisis, not only to customers who needed to address their requirements, but also on government emergency lines 1212 or 112. Fluctuations in the entire industry fell by 6 percentage points year-on-year and the number of job seekers increased significantly. It is no exception when 100 candidates apply for 1 vacancy.
In connection with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of requests to customer service centres and their call centres increased significantly. The chaos caused by the closure of borders and changes in transport, as well as the strong increase in online shopping and transport requirements, the relocation of huge numbers of workers to work from home and the need to deal with non-standard situations in virtually all areas of work and private life, played a role.
“Thanks to this, the sector did not have to reduce its activities in any way, like most other areas of the economy, and on the contrary, it recruited new people. The security and stability of customer service then attracted a growing number of applicants and significantly reduced the turnover of existing employees. The fact that some call centres, such as Comdata, offered help to government emergency lines 1212 and 112, which began to collapse very quickly under the onslaught of inquiries, also contributed to this. It is this preparedness to help in the crisis that has increased public awareness of call centre activities and, with it, interest in vacancies,”
says Jonathan Appleton, director of ABSL, an association of customer and business service providers. For example, in BlueLink International CZ, which belongs to the AirFrance-KLM group and provides customer services from Prague to clients from air transport and the sale of luxury goods, up to 100 applicants apply for some positions. In addition, fluctuations in this company have fallen to half of their original value this year.
Working in call centres is often very demanding, both in terms of the speed of the solution and the psyche. Operators must use soft skills, such as proper communication, language skills, empathy or assertiveness, as well as be able to advise the customer and solve his request, i.e. know the products, processes and systems. The work of 110 Comdata operators on lines 112 and 1212 was particularly demanding. The waiting time of any call must not exceed 4 seconds, so the operators must work with full commitment and must be able to reassure callers and give them flawless advice. Customer service centres therefore offer their employees a very wide range of training opportunities, mental health programs and even help in reconciling work with family responsibilities. For example, this year Comdata launched a Children’s Group, which takes care of the children of their employees, even in the evenings or on weekends.
Communication with customers alone is not the only activity of customer service centres. Applicants for work in the field are also attracted by automation projects in which they can participate. For example, at BlueLink, they are developing an artificial intelligence tool to detect attempts at fraud or theft. In just 5 weeks, Dixons Carphone, with the help of RPA (robotic process automation), automated part of the traffic on the customer line, which registered up to three times the number of customer inquiries in connection with a significant increase in online sales. On the busy lines, which operate from 6 am to 6 pm, customers often had to wait 60 minutes for an operator. Now they just fill out a simple form and practically immediately get the answer they need, 24/7.
“Call centres and customer service are especially important in times like today. They help keep the economy running and at the same time give services a human dimension. Whether operators help solve technical problems when working from home, shopping logistics, vacation planning or return from abroad with cancelled flights and closed borders or participate in the creation of intelligent solutions that help solve all customer requirements quickly, smoothly and with understanding, they always contribute to calming the situation. And that is needed more today than ever before,” concludes Jonathan Appleton.