The coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly put a strain on the workforce, and many organisations are reviewing their current strategies to ensure business continuity as the crisis continues. To successfully navigate the pandemic and achieve positive business outcomes, companies need to take strategic and meaningful steps towards building a more flexible working environment that enables agile and remote working practices.
Enabling an increasingly agile workforce will be critical to success for many businesses post-pandemic. Especially for teams operating in customer-focused environments, being able to maintain an exceptional level of customer experience is paramount during this time of uncertainty, even when staff have transitioned to a Work From Anywhere approach.
But how can you set your staff and your business up for success and maintain high levels of customer experience when your employees are working from anywhere?
Managing a changing workforce
Though working conditions for many industries and organisations have changed, the expectations for customer service and experience haven’t. We have seen a dramatic increase in critical contact center traffic. While the service needs of customers are growing, so, too, are the needs of staff and contact center agents when it comes to working remotely.
To continue meeting and exceeding expectations and servicing the needs of customers, we need to support our staff so they can continue working productively and effectively. In the first instance, it’s critical to recognize that consistency is key and, while the world continues to fluctuate, the processes and quality of work should remain consistent.
While schedules and access may change for staff, you can ensure that everyone clearly understands and agrees on business priorities, and is working towards a common goal. This will mean you need to keep many other working elements the same, including using the same systems and processes as much as possible. If access is an issue for staff members working remotely, consider involving the IT team for continued access to help alleviate concerns.
Keeping communication open, both with IT and the wider team, will also help to keep employees engaged. You need to keep all stakeholders up to date so it’s valuable to develop (and stick to) a comprehensive communications plan. In this environment, it’s better to overcommunicate to connect remote workers.
Adapting processes for a more agile workforce
A changing workforce may also result in changes to overall business requirements and KPIs. For example, changes in customer needs and staffing abilities may require changes to targets, such as hold times or call numbers, and these may also fluctuate day to day. It’s essential to consider adapting your processes to support your staff to continue meeting the organisation’s changing needs.
We’ve outlined two key ways to support an agile workforce while meeting business needs:
Forecast as early and as often as possible
It can be difficult to predict customers’ daily needs. You can expect to see call patterns changing by the day, or even by the hour, so it is important that you consider reforecasting as often as you can.
Contact center agents should also be aware of any changes to the self-service strategy to prepare them for changes in customer inquiries, and to ensure they aren't overlooking other communication channels.
In an unpredictable environment, extreme changes to schedules may occur. Flexibility in scheduling such as offering shorter shifts, split shifts, or block scheduling for changing work types can help to meet business needs regardless of changes to staffing schedules. It’s critical to adopt a more flexible policy mindset when it comes to managing an agile workforce. Consider performing ‘what if’ analyses on schedules and customer demand to plan for different outcomes.
What does success look like?
It may be difficult to manage success in such turbulent times however the more successful organisations tend to have shared attributes. We often see highly mature organisations sharing efficient, strategically aligned, and empowering workforce management practices.
The leading organisations in this space often demonstrate, among other features:
- A combination of cloud and evergreen technology stack
- Action-driven insights and engagement with artificial intelligence, analytics, and machine learning
- A combination or total automation of low-value tasks
- Omnichannel capabilities demonstrated across all domains.
It’s important to recognize that many organisations may see barriers when it comes to providing more flexible working environments, including the opportunity for staff to Work From Anywhere, despite the changing nature of the pandemic response. However, fears that business needs will not be covered by offering flexibility to staff are often unfounded. Offering staff more flexibility can deeply engage staff and lead to increased productivity, especially when it comes to offering flexible hours.
Enable your business to work from anywhere
To find out how NICE cloud-based contact centre solutions can help your business #WorkFromAnywhere, contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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