Adopt automation to support your customers during the pandemic

By Steve Bell

0 min read

In my previous blog, I stressed the importance of using cloud technology to quickly move call center agents to a safe, work-at-home environment, to continue support for their customers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. In this blog, I focus on several automation technologies to augment customer support operations that are reeling during this difficult period.

The contact center is under siege

News continues to flood in about contact centers bombarded with calls from concerned customers. The sheer volume increase would overwhelm even a fully staffed contact center. Now throw in the fact that centers are operating with partial staff or shutting down altogether. Moving agents to work remotely is part of the solution, but more can be done to help reduce call volumes for a transitioning workforce that’s already stretched thin.

Reach out to your customers proactively

Your customers need information now more than ever. They need answers to day-to-day questions arising from the coronavirus pandemic. Is your store open? What hours? When is my package arriving? Where is my food order? What does my insurance cover? What doctor is in my network? When is my prescription ready?… And countless other inquiries. Subjecting customers to painfully long hold queues is the last thing they need during these stressful times.

One way to help them, and help your contact center, is to engage proactively. Even before the coronavirus pandemic broke, your customers expect you to engage proactively.

"Proactively notify customers of any status or policy changes caused by COVID-19 by utilizing inbound and outbound channels such as SMS, IVR and phone."

Gartner, Coronavirus Impact on Service Delivery Continuity, Employees and Customers, March 12, 2020

Now it’s even more critical.


With Talkdesk ® Proactive Notifications you can engage your customers in their time of need. This provides the dual benefits of delivering a better customer experience and also deflecting incoming calls, which lightens the burden on agents and reduces cost.

You’re able to send timely notifications using either phone or SMS in a completely agentless mode. Upon hearing the message, your customers are prompted by an IVR option to hang up if they have the information they need, or connect to an agent if they want to learn more. With this process, most of the simple questions are answered through proactive automation and only a smaller volume of remaining calls require agent involvement.

Here is just a sample of potential use cases for Proactive Notifications during this crisis:

  • Store closing announcements
  • Business hours
  • Product availability updates
  • Food delivery status
  • Medical appointment updates
  • Public safety announcements

Help your customers help themselves

The trend toward customer self-service has been underway for some time, initially driven by Millennial expectations. With contact centers reeling from the current pandemic, effective self-service has become a necessity to support customers and mitigate the flood of incoming calls overwhelming support operations.

"More than six in 10 U.S. consumers say that their go-to channel for simple inquiries is a digital self-serve tool such as a website, mobile app, voice response system or online chat."

American Express Customer Service Barometer

Talkdesk can embed self-service touchpoints into apps, websites, messaging platforms and voice channels to answer common customer questions. These capabilities are available 24×7 to accommodate your customers’ needs and enable you to quickly scale customer service operations when it’s not possible to add and train new physical staff.

Automate your voice channel (the most heavily-relied upon channel) with a Virtual Agent that offers conversational, human-like service with speech recognition and text-to-speech technologies. For text-based interactions over social channels or live chat, Talkdesk chatbots offer a similar conversational experience enhanced by the ability to share links or other content provided by the Talkdesk Knowledge Management™ knowledge base solution. Knowledge Management is the knowledge backbone for all self-service interactions, ensuring customers and agents receive accurate, curated information — quickly.

Talkdesk Self-Service provides customers with always-on support to solve their problems in a time of uncertainty, while still offering seamless escalation to live help when needed. By handling repeatable, common inquiries, self-service automation offloads increasing call volumes that may be difficult to handle with live support during the current crisis.

It takes a concerted effort

No one technology can solve the overwhelming challenge facing contact centers today. Combined with work-at-home agents, adopting automation tools such as proactive notifications and customer self-service are key components to supporting customer service business continuity efforts.

Business Continuity for Contact Centers

Business Continuity

Keep your business moving forward, even in times of uncertainty. Transition your contact center to the cloud in as little as 24 hours and equip your agents with best-in-class tools to work from anywhere, without missing a beat.

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Steve Bell

Steve is Senior Director of Product Marketing at Talkdesk. Steve is a Seattle transplant with a passion for music, wine, food, and travel.