Business switchboards fell short during pandemic

As we migrate towards a ‘new normal’ work set-up, organisations need to prioritise the customer communication experience

Two thirds of UK businesses expect call volumes to increase once more staff return to offices and the economy reopens, yet research reveals that they’ve struggled to manage their switchboards throughout the pandemic – failing to prioritise customer care or put futureproof communications strategies in place.

The research found that almost half of companies turned their switchboards onto 24/7 voicemail throughout lockdown, 30 per cent admitted to trusting onsite security to answer calls and a third removed phone numbers from their website altogether.

Figures also reveal that just 18 per cent currently outsource their switchboard and almost half of organisations (49 per cent) rely on reception or front-of-house teams to manage switchboards while juggling other duties. yet only 15 per cent planned to invest in outsourced switchboard support to cope with expected demand.

This data is yet another reminder of the kneejerk reactions so many businesses made in the shift to remote working. At a time when consumers needed more support than ever, a worrying number of companies failed to provide adequate customer service support and put their reputation at risk in the process.

‘Diverting calls to mobile and discouraging people from calling simply isn’t good enough anymore…’

Over a year down the line, diverting calls to mobile, passing the responsibility onto building security staff or actively discouraging people from calling simply isn’t good enough. The world of work has changed and with 65 per cent of companies planning to continue to offer remote or hybrid working over the next six months, it’s crucial to ensure systems and processes are up to the task.

Despite this, of those that don’t currently outsource, over 40 per cent say that doing so would make it easier to offer 24/7 support and adhere to social distancing. Additional recognised benefits include the ability to repurpose existing staff, improve service and achieve cost savings.

Too often, we hear of unfounded misconceptions around outsourcing – concerns that a third party will fail to integrate with a business, really get to grips with a brand or deliver the quality of service required. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Outsourcing a switchboard offers a seamless, professional and positive customer journey that demonstrates to enquirers that you care. Missing calls, leaving people waiting or clunky transfers lead to bad first impressions and lost revenue, so failure to get things in order now could prove extremely costly.

Moneypenny are Global Partners of WORKTECH Academy
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