— 6 min read
Contact Center Insights from Plug and Play
Our team was recently featured in an exciting virtual event hosted by Plug and Play. This organization is a world-renowned innovation accelerator that introduces promising new companies to corporate partners.
Plug and Play also creates top-notch, free educational content. Their latest webinar tackled the impact of the pandemic on the contact centers. Airkit was highlighted along with up-and-coming companies Agara, Forethought, Aigo and Pypestream.
The keynote conversation between TaskUs CEO Jaspar Weir and Airkit CEO Stephen Ehikian was especially informative. If you couldn’t listen live or want to revisit some of the ideas these industry experts discussed, we’re sharing our notes.
The TaskUs Story
The conversation started by highlighting Jaspar Weir’s story. He co-founded TaskUs, a customer experience outsourcing company that has grown from a mere idea to more than 20,000 employees around the world.
Emphasizing People (Yes, in the Contact Center)
Stephen asked Jaspar to comment on finding the right team and building culture in an organization that uses BPO.
Jaspar noted that the TaskUs team actually made the employee Net Promoter Score the most important metric for their business, more important even than revenue, profit, and growth. He also explained that finding the right people is challenging at scale, but his team stays on track by interviewing with clear core values in mind.
Consumer Trends Before COVID-19
Next, Jaspar discussed what a digital-first consumer looked like before the pandemic. When companies hit the mass market, they used to need to consider adopting more traditional communication channels. This trend has now changed due to the pandemic.
“I think what you’re seeing during this time with consumers .. is you have a mass audience that has been forced to become digital-first consumers,” Jaspar said. “You know, my mom and dad are using Instacart for the first time and realizing how great that is.”
Meanwhile, customer standards have been steadily increasing for years. Jaspar Weir credits Amazon for single-handedly changing consumer expectations, especially for delivery and customer service. Other businesses struggle to keep up.
“The truth is that [Amazon] set the bar, and it’s a really high bar, but companies are having to deliver or trying their best to deliver better customer experiences,” Jaspar reflected.
To meet these high expectations, businesses bring in new technologies like digital self-service options.
Contact Centers Ops While in Crisis
As the health crisis began to unfold, TaskUs acted quickly to transition contact centers to working from home. This way of doing business is a major shift for the industry.
“We had been following the situation and just realized we can’t risk our teammates’ health and must put people at home,” said Jaspar.
The transition for 20,000 TaskUs employees happened in three stages.
- First, the company focused on ensuring all agents could go home with laptops and other necessary devices.
- Second, TaskUs worked with customers to get aligned on strategy, especially shifts like switching communications channels from phone to chat.
- Lastly, the company created a task force of leaders charged with creating a new work-from-home operating mode.
“I’ve never seen a more clear example of why investing in culture and people is so important than I did in that time of panic. We had heroic efforts from our teammates, staying up days on end delivering PCs to people’s homes in the various countries that we operate to make sure people could get back online and work for our customers,” Jaspar highlighted.
It’s still uncertain when the agents will return to a regular work environment and what exactly that will mean. Jaspar estimated that at least 20 percent of their jobs would remain work-from-home.
While they wait, TaskUs customers are starting to consider how to ramp up operations quickly once shelter-in-place orders are lifted. These companies are also accelerating their adoption of chat and asynchronous messaging.
Who’s Scared of Automation?
On the topic of the future of contact centers, Stephen asked Jaspar about the role of automation.
The TaskUs CEO explained that there are, in fact, two types of automation. The first is the result of product improvements that make experiences simpler for customers. An example is how Uber created color codes to help riders and drivers recognize each other faster.
The second type is tied to technology that boosts agent efficiency. TaskUs holds regular hack-a-thons and encourages employees to automate their own workstreams. Even if such changes can result in a short-term revenue reduction, the company sees it as a way to build trust and long-term value.
“What we’re seeing is the contacts that are remaining in the system will be more and more complex, especially when it comes to technology companies,” Jaspar explained.
In other words, contact center agents must become more sophisticated problem-solvers. To aid this evolution, businesses need a strong feedback system. TaskUs helps fulfill this need by encouraging feedback from contact center agents. Then, Jaspar’s teams meet with customers and advise on how to improve business.
“Today, people are looking for their outsourcing partner to add value because we are the ones on the front lines talking to customers,” Jaspar said.
Airkit for the Modern Contact Center
Jaspar Weir’s insight was incredibly valuable and bolstered our team’s confidence that Airkit is the perfect platform for the modern contact center.
That’s because Airkit allows teams to create endless new digital customer experiences, evolving to keep up with consumer expectations.
As our CEO Stephen Ehikian explained, “We started Airkit with the idea that every company out there wants to look like Amazon and create and maintain this effortless customer experience.”
Our team understands that back-end systems are really hard to swap out. That’s why Airkit is a low-code platform that works on top of a business’ existing infrastructure to empower non-developers. Now, customer-facing teams can build the kinds of easy experiences we all want, without the need for engineering resources.
“The problem we’re solving is that companies don’t have enough technical resources to dedicate to sales and service leaders that want to build these effortless experiences,” Stephen noted.
Although so much is changing right now, one thing is certain: new tools and solutions are being developed to overcome every challenge.
You can see Airkit in action here.