“Moving through 3 phases of crisis response towards reinvention” is an excerpt from the white paper, “The Future of Relationships” by Blair Pleasant and brought to you by Glance and COMMfusion. You can download your copy of the full white paper here.
Businesses and organizations have been forced to quickly come to terms with the impact of the COVID-19 crisis and its many implications on customer relationships. Contact centers, customer service organizations, and any customer-facing organization must look at where they are today and where they want to be tomorrow, with an eye towards reinventing their customer-facing operations.
This crisis response involves several phases:
When the reality of the COVID crisis initially hit, organizations realized that they needed to quickly respond in order to keep their businesses running. Faced with the need to ensure business continuity as well as their employees’ health and safety, most organizations rose to the task by focusing on enabling employees to work from home and by enabling customers to do business digitally. Defined as essential services by the Department of Homeland Security, contact centers and contact center workers needed to continue operating and serving customers and constituents. Where possible, contact center agents became remote or work-from-home agents, continuing to answer calls or respond to emails and chats from the comfort (or discomfort) of their homes. For example, Investment Management companies empowered wealth managers to advise clients from home offices using online meetings instead of traditional in-person meetings.
Throughout this phase, organizations should be surveying employees and agents to identify where gaps occurred and where you may have missed the target, while evaluating and identifying best practices and lessons learned that will help you improve and enhance operations as you move to the next to the next phase.
Enhance and Refine
In the next phase, organizations must re-evaluate their processes, identifying what worked and what didn’t, while focusing on adding digital channels, streamlining workflows, and defining best practices. As call traffic went through the roof for some vertical markets and industries, such as banks, travel companies, and government agencies, customers experienced extremely long hold times when reaching out for assistance. To offload some of the voice traffic, many organizations pushed customers to various digital channels, including email and web chat, and bot-powered digital customer service. In Phase 2, some organizations must reconcile problems with their Phase 1 measures. Building on the previous example, in this phase, investment management companies that empowered their wealth managers to conduct digital meetings instead of face-to-face meetings were forced to reconcile their security and privacy mandates with the shortcomings of the online meeting technology they rolled out. And organizations that turned customer service over to bots were faced with damage control for customers who did not have positive experiences.
In the final phase organizations must plan for the future and the “next normal,” developing new strategies and metrics, while reinventing customer interaction methods. New challenges require new solutions, and organizations will need to be creative when it comes to engaging with customers. Continuing our example, Investment Management companies in this phase are now adding functionality to their digital applications that enable digital meetings to be conducted in a way that meets security and privacy mandates, while also providing a better, more frictionless experience for the clients and advisors.
As we emerge from the React/Respond stage and slowly move to the Enhance/Refine and Plan/Reinvent stages of crisis response, organizations have a chance to seize new opportunities to better serve customers. Don’t just react – reinvent your customer relationships.