Consumers calling customer care executives are finding themselves kept on hold for hours, with call centers struggling to stay open amid the travel restrictions imposed in response to the rapidly-spreading coronavirus.
The pandemic “has caused a perfect storm of customer service” issues, reports The Washington Post, as consumers crowd lines and chat of contact centers.
In some countries, customer service agents are feeling trapped between the devil and the deep blue sea, facing the choice of working from home with weak internet connections or catching the virus by commuting to their office.
Considering the report, even chatbots deployed to support the agents, are also struggling to keep pace with the demand, with some of them responding with “be patient” replies.
Around the world, call center operators are in a dilemma today. They cannot shutter their doors, nor can they force agents to work from office and risk contracting the virus.
“The lack of broadband connections and strict regulations for industries such as banking and health care make fielding calls from outside the office impossible in certain situations,” the report added.
Many American corporate firms have outsourced their customer service to providers in the Philippines. Thanks to the pandemic, the Asian country has imposed an indefinite curfew, leaving call centers struggling to remain operational.
Even in the United States, many call center agents are working from home. Those who are commuting to the office are running the risk of catching the virus. There are reports that five employees have tested positive for the virus at Wells Fargo’s contact center in Charlotte.