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Business Continuity for Call-Center Operations: Case Study

3 minutes, 39 seconds read

Coronavirus outbreak has led to prolonged lockdown in several countries, which has crippled many back-office operations. The Government of India imposed a nationwide lockdown (currently 40 days). Because of travel restrictions and health concerns, customer queries are increasing exponentially. Companies dependent on call-centres are struggling to deploy work from home solutions and their business continuity plans. 

Most companies are not prepared for work-from-home arrangements, but there are exceptions. Those with the right strategy and timely action are able to keep their business operationally afloat. Before we delve into the case study, let’s take a quick look at the current situation of call centres.

COVID-19 is testing call-centre businesses. How?

Voice-services are facing a tough time transitioning to a work-from-home model. Companies are not willing to allow access to private and sensitive data outside of the protected office premises. 

Teleperformance, a specialized omnichannel customer experience management company, was able to allow mobility to only 50% of its employees by the first week of April (2nd week of lockdown). The company aims at managing 66% of operations remotely by mid-April. 

This raises a question — why not 100%?

Most of the companies lack the digital infrastructure and a rigid business continuity plan. For instance, the airline business relies heavily on call-centres. After coronavirus outbreaks and resulting lockdowns, most of the call-centres failed to respond to increasing customer queries. To continue communication with customers and support them in whatever ways possible, many airports turned to social media. Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport had over 3.5 million social media engagements during the period.

But, what’s the major limiting factor for adopting virtual call-centre models?

Virtual call-centre adoption challenges

Theoretically, technology can simplify call-centre operations with mobility solutions. But mobility requires an uninterrupted internet connection and developing countries like India struggles for it. Telcos are surely rushing to fill the gaps in customer communications; the fact is— only 2-3% of Indians use wired broadband and the majority of users rely on mobile data. 

The Telcos infrastructure here is designed and built to operate on 75% network capacity utilization. But, due to lockdown, many cities are witnessing 90-100% load capacity and circles like Karnataka are stretching beyond 100% capacity. The country’s inadequate telcos facility is also a limiting factor for setting up virtual call-centres.

Migrating from traditional to virtual operations (ensuring workplace mobility) will require moving the core systems to the cloud. During times like this, the frailed supply-chain defies the thought of procuring devices to achieve 100% mobility.

Despite the aforementioned challenges, some voice-service extensive organizations managed to seamlessly implement mobility at work. 

[Related: Enterprises investing in Workplace Mobility Can Survive Pandemics]

Ensuring call-centre business continuity during a lockdown: a case study

India’s Leading Health Insurer— Religare demonstrated its preparedness against the COVID-19 situation. A major part of the insurer’s customer servicing relies on call-centre based communication, which would have become operationally impossible amidst the ongoing lockdown. To respond to this critical situation and remain operationally afloat, Mantra implemented a call-centre mobility solution with quick turn-around time.

In a typical call centre, the team leader manages and supports callers to handle customer queries. Now that the workforce is operating remotely, the critical question before the company was how to make information available to the callers.

A new virtual call-centre (computer telephony/dialer) system was implemented in the organization’s Lead Management System, which manages the complete customer journey. Through this cloud-based solution, the necessary information is always available to the caller, also eliminating dependencies. 

Companies are sceptical to allow access to private data outside of on-premise systems. To ensure information security and privacy, the new call centre application allowed only required caller IPs, service APIs and Dialer APIs for remote access to the platform.

[Related: The impact of COVID-19 on the global economy and insurance]

Merits of the case

40% of businesses do not reopen after a disaster. Of those who do, 25% reopen and fail. The main reason is firms are unprepared to withstand the short and long term effects of severe business disruptions. 

That’s why leaders emphasize on business continuity plans (BCP).
The benefits of BCP abstracts to –

  1. Protecting the safety of employees.
  2. Maintaining customer service by minimizing interruptions of business operations.
  3. Protecting assets and brand.
  4. Preventing environmental contamination.
  5. Protecting the investment and leveraging the chance to survive and thrive post-disaster.

To secure operational continuity, organizations need to proactively invest in digital workplaces that remain virtually uninterrupted even during Pandemics. 

Do you need help in ensuring business continuity? We’re listening to you. Write to us at hello@mantralabsglobal.com.

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Retention playbook for Insurance firms in the backdrop of financial crises

4 minutes read

Belonging to one of the oldest industries in the world, Insurance companies have weathered multiple calamities over the years and have proven themselves to be resilient entities that can truly stand the test of time. Today, however, the industry faces some of its toughest trials yet. Technology has fundamentally changed what it means to be an insurer and the cumulative effects of the pandemic coupled with a weak global economic output have impacted the industry in ways both good and bad.

Chart, line chart

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Source: Deloitte Services LP Economic Analysis

For instance, the U.S market recorded a sharp dip in GDP in the wake of the pandemic and it was expected that the economy would bounce back bringing with it a resurgent demand for all products (including insurance) across the board. It must be noted that the outlook toward insurance products changed as a result of the pandemic. Life insurance products were no longer an afterthought, although profitability in this segment declined over the years. Property-and-Casualty (P&C) insurance, especially motor insurance, continued to be a strong driver, while health insurance proved to be the fastest-growing segment with robust demand from different geographies

Simultaneously, the insurance industry finds itself on the cusp of an industry-wide shift as technology is starting to play a greater role in core operations. In particular, technologies such as AI, AR, and VR are being deployed extensively to retain customers amidst this technological and economic upheaval.

Double down on digital

For insurance firms, IT budgets were almost exclusively dedicated to maintaining legacy systems, but with the rise of InsurTech, it is imperative that firms start dedicating more of their budgets towards developing advanced capabilities such as predictive analytics, AI-driven offerings, etc. Insurance has long been an industry that makes extensive use of complex statistical and mathematical models to guide pricing and product development strategies. By incorporating the latest technological advances with the rich data they have accumulated over the years, insurance firms are poised to emerge stronger and more competitive than ever.

Using AI to curate a bespoke customer experience

Insurance has always been a low-margin affair and success in the business is primarily a function of selling the right products to the right people and reducing churn as much as possible. This is particularly important as customer retention is normally conceived as an afterthought in most industries, as evidenced in the following chart.

Chart, sunburst chart

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        Source: econconusltancy.com

AI-powered tools (even with narrow capabilities) can do wonders for the insurance industry at large. When architected in the right manner, they can be used to automate a bulk of the standardized and automated processes that insurance companies have. AI can be used to automate and accelerate claims, assess homeowner policies via drones, and facilitate richer customer experiences through sophisticated chatbots. Such advances have a domino effect of increasing CSAT scores, boosting retention rates, reducing CACs, and ultimately improving profitability by as much as 95%.

Crafting immersive products through AR/VR

Customer retention is largely a function of how good a product is, and how effective it is in solving the customers’ pain points. In the face of increasing commodification, insurance companies that go the extra mile to make the buying process more immersive and engaging can gain a definite edge over competitors.

Globally, companies are flocking to implement AR/VR into their customer engagement strategies as it allows them to better several aspects of the customer journey in one fell swoop. Relationship building, product visualization, and highly personalized products are some of the benefits that AR/VR confers to its wielders.  

By honoring the customer sentiments of today and applying a slick AR/VR-powered veneer over its existing product layer, insurance companies can cater to a younger audience (Gen Z) by educating them about insurance products and tailoring digital delivery experiences. This could pay off in the long run by building a large customer base that could be retained and served for a much longer period.

The way forward

The Insurance industry is undergoing a shift of tectonic proportions as an older generation makes way for a new and younger one that has little to no perceptions about the industry. By investing in next-generation technologies such as AR/VR, firms can build new products to capture this new market and catapult themselves to leadership positions simply by way of keeping up with the times.

We have already seen how AR is a potential game-changer for the insurance industry. It is only a matter of time before it becomes commonplace.

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