Leaders Talk CCAPAC: “A Case Study of Contact Centre Australia: How Do We Manage Contact Centres Post-Pandemic?”

Friday, April 8, 2022 – The 13th Leaders Talk hosted by CC-APAC discussed, “A Case Study of Contact Centre Australia: How Do We Manage Contact Centres Post-Pandemic?” by inviting two professional speakers to Asia Pacific contact center.

This discussion was presented by Andi Anugrah, Chairman of ICCA Indonesia. The first panelist is Steve Pels, Founder/Director of Contact Centre Action, Australia. The second panelist is Fiona Keough, CEO of Auscontact Australia. 

The discussion is started by sharing about the situation in Australia when the pandemic is coming. Fiona said that there were some strict things in place in Sydney, like Melbourne. She said that nobody was allowed to the office and large organizations took the opportunity to give up their real estate. As soon as the lease was up, they were out. 

Even the larger contact centers in Australia are pushing everybody home as they needed to. That organization contacted Fiona because they needed 10,000 headsets. They had all these people work from home without the kit to be able to do the basics and their procurement team couldn’t do it. We can see that nobody prepared for the pandemic COVID-19 was to come, nobody was in the right position, and nobody can predict how things might change.

Steve also said that was the interesting thing at the very start of the pandemic. There were still a lot of contact centers that had premises-based telephony equipment, but their hardware was on site. In most cases, staff could not work from home. But when the government said everybody must work from home, “We got about a week’s notice,” said Steve. 

Steve said that there were dozens of organizations that could not do it. Their premises-based telephony equipment would not allow staff to work from home. Then, they had to a very quick look at alternatives. In many cases, he said that the organization was to put an announcement on their IVR saying, “I’m sorry due to the pandemic, our call center is closed. Please send us an email to this address.”

Therefore, Steve shared a few suggestions for leaders after the pandemic. It’s a difficult one because there is not a single right answer. Steve said that we have got to talk to our staff, if we don’t understand our staff, their situation, their family situation, what drives them, and what motivates them, then we are going to have a problem retaining and motivating those staff.

“You don’t understand them. You also need to understand what you got as far as technology is concerned and start to build a brand-new strategy for what’s going forward,” said Steve. He thinks the only clear thing is that we don’t know what normal looks like and is going to be. Therefore, our company needs to be flexible and staff too. Steve said that there’s no one size fits all. Now it’s a matter of understanding what suits our staff and our business.

Fiona also explains her suggestion. She said that we don’t know what the new normal is or we just have to be. A lot of contact centers have been Infinitum, dynamic, flexible, and ready to take on change. Also, people that work in contact centers, she said tend to like to work in a putting out the fire type situation, “Perhaps not the fire that we’ve had for the last few years. The floods we could add, the bushfires, and the flood situation that we have currently in Queensland and New South Wales.”

Then we just need to go with it and make our best assessments for all the right reasons in equity integrity. That is the right way through for our organizations and people because they’re not disconnected, they are one. She said that make sure that whatever it is, we do it for the right reasons. Also, we need to adapt to the situation and we as a leader have to take the lead. (ANF)