Jacque Lim, Regional Head Of Service Delivery Asia Pacific, Aspire Lifestyles
In the new norms for CX and contact centers going into the year 2021, many opinions, concerns, and challenges have been shared in the CX forums. Some of the areas are as below:
1. Working from home or office, being agile, and plan for future.
2. Digital efforts on making products and services available through omni-channels and having a single view on customers’ interactions.
3. Management of a remote workforce and employees’ wellness and mental health.
4. For contact centers that are very much based on utilization and requests for international and domestic travels arrangement, focus on ways to generates value-added conversation with the customers by adapting relevant offers to their customers who are staying put in the country and performing work virtually.
“As the digital conversations and adoptions are ongoing, many new challenges have also cropped up around having a single platform that could integrate all channels of communication with clients”
Working from home and plan for future
As part of many companies’ Business Continuity Plan during COVID-19 waves, the operations have been moved to either fully or partly operating from home. The rush to buy or rent laptops has been observed globally and internal IT teams have been working around the clock to address issues on information security, ensuring compliance and data privacy. Discussions and debates with clients and vendors are continuously ongoing to seek agreement and alignment for operating contact centers from home. This situation has been ongoing for more than a year and now many companies are also considering moving their operations to be 100 percent working from home. In some part of the world, working from home is not a new arrangement as it has been there for years while for some, it is just the beginning of an interesting journey and discussion as many factors have to be taken into consideration such as location, the stability of internet connections, the security of a network, suitability of home environment and others. Either selection of whether a full or partial working-from-home assessment has to be done against each company’s requirements; a business model, group of clients and preference, type of products and services, adaption to change management, employees’ reaction, and agility.
For the last 12 months, many companies have expedited setting up on e-commerce to promote their products and services, virtual meetings with clients, focus on mobile apps expansion and digitalization of clients’ communication channels via omni channels due to the lockdowns that have nailed all face to face meetings and increased the asks for digitalization. As the digital conversations and adoptions are ongoing, many new challenges have also cropped up around having a single platform that could integrate all channels of communication with clients, staff training to be able to handle multi-platforms at the same time without jeopardizing the Customer Experience, a superefficient bot that helps to screen out all generic inquiries and speeding up the machine learning to increase interactions accuracy and employees productivity. This has also resulted in higher demand for an efficient CRM system and alignment discussion with CRM companies on customization of systems that could help to manage clients’ expectations seamlessly.
Management of a remote workforce and employees’ wellness and mental health
Working from home remotely requires good discipline and it is not an easy task for employees to balance out between their work and family, especially for those with young kids or elderly at home. In some parts of Asia Pacific countries, some employees may be living in a very packed neighborhood and thus prone to noises from surrounding as well as from the roadside that makes their current environment less than suitable for taking calls professionally. All these have added up to their stress level besides having to make a new adjustment to the new norm life. Companies have started to take note of that and started to provide support for home office setup, mental health assistance, and helpline to assist employees to cope with the current situation. Same time, a new type of allowances has been introduced such as home and gadgets allowances to ease employees' burden of having to set up a new working space at home. There is also a demand for a high quality of leadership in managing virtual teams and new processes being created to ensure proper employee management to ensure higher or same quality standards being delivered from home.
Travel based contact centers with new services offering while waiting for travel resumption
There have been some published projections available for travel resumption; partially by the end of 2021 or early 2022 and globally by the end of 2023 or early 2024. The utilization for certain areas of businesses such as restaurants, hotels, airlines, ground transportation, and others have been heavily hit during this pandemic. In order to remain agile, companies have adapted to delivery to home and introduction of products and services that are relevant to the local lifestyles and community, observing social distancing by having virtual events/schooling, home cleaning/care services, webinar training/knowledge sharing, and others. Such creativity does help companies to sustain their businesses and keep them going during the numerous COVID waves.
All businesses including the contact centers would have to remain vigilant and able to adapt quickly to any upcoming situation. Employees as the biggest asset to the company would require supports and guidance from their leaders in embracing the new norm of life. Let’s us all embrace and stand strong against the COVID waves and continue to share knowledge, challenges, and success stories in motivating one another as we are in this together. I am certain we are much stronger than the pandemic and would get through this.