Automated AI tools are most effective when they supplement and extend the capabilities of their customer support team, rather than replace human investment.

AI tools are needed to supplement, extend capabilities of the customer support team: Genesys

Automated AI tools are most effective when they supplement and extend the capabilities of their customer support team, rather than replace human investment.

Atul Edlabadkar, Vice President – R&D & Chennai Site Leader, Genesys India in a conversation with Voice&Data expresses how his contact center software services company Genesys worked its way to circumvent the problems posed during the lockdown and how its employees geared up to operate a call center while working from home. Edlabadkar also shares details on how data security and VPN are critical aspects to consider while a call center functions from a home environment of an employee.

Voice&Data (V&D): As a contact center specialist how was it to be under lockdown? What were the initial challenges from a communication point of view?

 Atul Edlabadkar (AE): The main challenge faced by the contact center industry was the need to adopt a robust set of work-from-home solutions as part of their business-continuity plans on short notice, managing the need to maintain service levels while keeping employees safe.

With physical storefronts closed in many regions of the world as a result of lockdowns, businesses also had to be prepared for a potential influx in customer queries.

With contact center specialists frequently handling business-sensitive information, any remote working solution would need to come with the necessary security features in place to minimize any regulatory risks, exacerbating challenges.

Hence, it is evident, call centers, today, need to be scalable, allow remote working, and have the necessary measures in place to ensure data security.

V&D: Since work from home was the only option during the lockdown, how did Genesys get the workforce into action and service clients from remote locations?

AE: Genesys believes in an employee-first approach, with our leadership team being forerunners in implementing work from home (WFH) policies across our offices

Reaffirming a commitment to our employees’ safety and health, we mandated a WFH practice for all employees starting from 16th March 2020, much ahead of the national lockdown in India.

This enabled outstation employees to reach their homes, settle down, and start contributing to work effectively. Due to the fact that each and every employee is provided with a laptop, the transition from office to home was very smooth for 650+ employees of Genesys India. This included customer-facing functions as well, with no interruption in our service standards to our customers.

Platforms were also put in place to facilitate interactions between employees, allowing them to share experiences and boost energy levels. To keep the competitive spirit high, we conduct weekly trivia contests amongst teams.

V&D: Going further, it is evident that work from home is going to be the new normal. What is the company doing to ensure business continuity?

AE: Genesys India embraced the new norm seamlessly. Our best in breed HR practices and engagement initiatives ensured our employees remained motivated to take on this challenge.

Our leadership team ensured that they spoke to and reassured every employee by means of virtual coffee sessions and informal chat sessions, handling questions on employees’ minds with effective and open communication.

Platforms were also put in place to facilitate interactions between employees, allowing them to share experiences and boost energy levels. To keep the competitive spirit high, we conduct weekly trivia contests amongst teams.

Mental and physical wellness initiatives also ensure our employees remain in good physical and mental shape to balance the requirements at work and personal front. With all the right ingredients in place, our employees are highly productive, stronger, and mentally prepared to combat disruptions arising from the Covid-19 pandemic to ensure business continuity.

V&D: In your opinion, how should secure connections be established for the workforce in terms of maintaining client data privacy?

AE: Security will definitely be a key consideration when choosing a call center platform. Genesys services are developed with security as a top priority. From supporting infrastructure to data encryption techniques and security threat-response processes, our platform ensures that customer data is protected and secure at all times.

Such measures will be vital as the Personal Data Protection Bill is being analyzed by the authorities, with any transgressions potentially exposing organizations to hefty repercussions once the Bill is passed.

With WFH becoming the new normal, our request to TRAI would be to make this relaxation a permanent amendment to the policy, though attention should be paid to the security side of things. WFH will not only allow business continuity but would also increase employment opportunities for stay at home individuals such as women, the elderly, and people with special needs.

V&D: How must the DoT/TRAI frame a policy that enables smooth functioning of a call center from home?

AE: We would like to express our thanks to TRAI on releasing a consultation paper aimed at relaxing the OSP regulations for the agents to WFH. This is not an amendment to the TRAI regulations yet. The OSP’s had to pay a security deposit per office location to enable WFH and should have a Point-to-Point VPN enabled for the agents, which has now been relaxed temporarily.

With WFH becoming the new normal, our request to TRAI would be to make this relaxation a permanent amendment to the policy, though attention should be paid to the security side of things. WFH will not only allow business continuity but would also increase employment opportunities for stay at home individuals such as women, the elderly, and people with special needs.

V&D: What are the new age technologies that the company believes should be adopted to turn around call center Operations and boost customer experience?

AE: Today, more than ever, it has become more important for customers to differentiate using customer experiences. They can do this by leveraging Artificial Intelligence (AI), digital channels and the cloud. Businesses today need contact center solutions that deliver faster business outcomes, and they realized that the best possible way to do this is through connecting every conversation with consumers across voice and digital channels by leveraging AI and cloud technologies.

Cloud technology comes with benefits such as rapid deployment, the ability to scale to meet demand, and also reduces costs of maintaining infrastructure.

A longer-term goal is to develop a machine augmented approach that leverages AI capabilities. Automated AI tools are most effective when they supplement and extend the capabilities of their customer support team, rather than replace human investment.

Beyond intelligent chatbots capable of handling basic queries, AI can be used in predictive routing, and for making significant improvements in first call resolution rates. AI can also be used to provide proactive customer experience and play a huge role in supporting the lead qualification process.

Genesys has entered partnerships with major industry leaders such as IBM and Watson to leverage their AI capabilities in our solutions.

V&D: In the post COVID era, how are call center operations going to change? What would be the trends and how will India be placed in the global market?

AE: As lockdowns across the world ease, we’re expecting a spike in business volumes as consumers make up for the lost time. Contact centers will need to be prepared to handle a spike in activity and are likely to look towards frontier technologies as a solution.

We forecast a significant increase in the use of AI and automation. This ensures that operations can be easily scaled to address any unexpected surges in contact volumes, and allows customers to receive responses regardless of where the contact center is located or the time of day.

Ultimately, the biggest winners in a post-pandemic reality will be organizations that have made investments into strengthening their capacity and boosting their resiliency against disruptions.

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