Many of our business partners are facing unprecedented operational challenges to simply keep the lights on in customer service. Contact centers are closed — as are corporate headquarters — while people across the globe are facing adversity, fear, and escalating anxiety about the unknown toll COVID-19 will take in the weeks, months, and years ahead. 

It’s hard to even think about work — nevermind to provide great service to other people — with the personal challenges that customer service professionals, like us all, are facing. Yet, gritty, innovative customer service teams are finding creative ways to persevere. Because customer service leaders know that being helpful matters more now than ever. As our CEO Mike de la Cruz said during a recent webcast, “While we’re not ER workers, [the customer service industry is] on the digital front lines of this crisis — and there are anxious consumers on the other side that need help.” 

We’re so proud of the resiliency we’ve seen from our clients — and also fortunate and proud of how our team has stepped up to help. Our AI platform, with the right mix of automation and human support, has helped our partners compensate for contact center closures and customer support surges caused by the virus. Here are four real-world examples of how we’re working with our customers during this crisis:

Using automation to reduce backlog

In early March, as COVID-19 forced many call centers to shut down, a global hospitality company saw its backlog of customer service requests surge to more than 100,000 in a matter of days. Our team worked with the company’s customer service leaders to quickly identify the top new issues agents were facing — and build automation via a virtual agent to effectively address those customer intents. Within 24 hours, the new automation was live. It successfully resolved 12,000 customer issues on Day 1 — and has since helped resolve more than 150,000 customer inquiries. 

Turning retail employees into remote experts

For one global consumer electronics giant, COVID-19 led to the closure of hundreds of retail stores, which customers relied on as a place to get support and advice before making purchases. Meanwhile, the company’s global contact center in the Philippines was also shuttered. The company asked Directly to prepare to handle surges of up to 20x the volume of support inquiries that we were already managing. We quickly helped retail employees onboard to our platform. Remotely, they can now efficiently share the same kind of expertise and support they would have in the retail stores.  

Achieving unprecedented scale via gaming surges

While sheltering in place, many people are turning to video games as a primary means of entertainment. In fact, a World Health Organization ambassador recently took to Twitter and recommended gaming as a means to “flatten the curve.” 

For gaming companies, more people playing games during COVID-19 has led to a spike of customer support inquiries. In mid-March, a global gaming company notified us that it needed to manage a surplus of thousands of questions per day via our platform. In this case, the surge was handled mostly by the company’s vetted expert users who were incentivized to help augment internal support teams. This distributed network of expert users became even more indispensable when call centers in Germany, France, and Italy were shuttered. Thousands more support inquiries have since been routed to experts fluent in the local languages. At one point, more than half of the gaming giant’s global support issues were being handled via our platform.

A virtual brand concierge to help in a crisis

Another project that’s underway: We’re working closely with a global telecommunications company to deploy a virtual assistant on a webpage with vital information about the company’s COVID-19 policies. When live, the virtual agent will be able to answer (via automation) some of the most common questions during the crisis and it will serve as a concierge to usher customers to other support channels depending upon the questions and customer needs.  

Need help with customer service because of COVID-19?  

With quarantines and shelter-in-place orders causing business centers and contact centers to close, COVID-19 has forced many in our industry to re-think how we provide customer support. Companies such as Microsoft, Samsung, Airbnb, and Autodesk are using Directly’s AI platform to deploy automation and enable a distributed workforce to augment internal customer support. Our customers rely on us to resolve up to 80% of all contact center volume with a collective CSAT of more than 92%. 

Learn more about how we’re helping companies meet customer needs during the COVID-19 crisis here: