Resilience means more than using risk management strategies to identify, assess and control threats. Resiliency takes a holistic view of business health and success. It’s about keeping your business viable during changes in your supply and demand — and it can extend to complete shifts in your business model. Anticipating, preparing for, responding to and adapting with market disruptions might feel daunting. But, even after a crisis, there are ways to strengthen your business and continue making progress on short- and long-term goals.
Here are some initial steps to take to maintain business continuity.
1. Focus on your employees.
During a crisis, the value of employees becomes more apparent, especially in their roles on the frontline of customer engagement. Highly engaged employees are not only more productive, which gives you room to survive downturns, they also deliver experiences that create loyal customers. It’s one reason why the moniker “Buy local” has gained ground; consumers want to support businesses they know and like.
Keeping employees engaged requires more than perks and rewards. They want respect and a sense of job satisfaction. Give employees the tools to empower them to participate in your success. Invest time in their ongoing training and use coaching methods that are based on real knowledge gaps and business needs. Measure the results of your training and share that data with employees so they can see their performance. According to a Learning and Development survey by CIPD, a seven-hour coaching investment in one month would require a customer-facing team to be offline for only 20 minutes. These employee-focused activities demonstrate empathy — and empathy is the foundation of trusted relationships with customers, agents and other team members.
2. Update your communication strategies.
Countless businesses have shifted operations to remote work, which is transitioning to a longer-term solution for many. But there are risks when employees lose in-person communications with each other. How your employees communicate with other team members can dramatically affect productivity and customer experience. Consider Zoom: The cloud-based online meeting platform was founded on the notion that consumers needed more efficient communications channels, not fewer. Then COVID-19 hit and sparked sudden and huge growth for Zoom. No surprise there. Its cloud-based videoconferencing capabilities support team collaboration.
Genesys recently began a partnership with Zoom to deliver simplified, integrated communications and foster collaboration. Businesses integrating the Genesys CloudTM platform with Zoom Meetings and Zoom Phone can connect employees across the enterprise in real-time through voice and video.
3. Understand what your customers need and adapt quickly.
If you’re responding to a major disruption, your customers probably are, too. They might not even know what’s possible or how you can help. Be a leader in offering assistance, whether it’s discounts, newly available products or different payment options. If call and chat volumes are out of control because of urgent customer questions, adding more agents — and doing so quickly — might not be an option. Instead, offload more common and mundane tasks to bots.
You can update artificial intelligence (AI)-powered bots quickly, for example. Voicebot scripts can be changed to handle the most common questions. And when you’re running bots in an integrated, omnichannel environment, they can transfer customers and conversational context to human agents, as needed, and then learn from each interaction.
4. Build in operational flexibility.
Scaling up capabilities to meet the new demands of the COVID-19 pandemic was one of the challenges that US government agencies faced. These organizations had to support an unprecedented number of citizen interactions at the same time — and all of whom faced similar issues. Cumbersome processes and systems hampered flexibility, driving the movement to cloud technology.
Adapting to remote work is an ongoing process. Flexibility requires the right infrastructure to continually simplify operations and reduce the expenses of managing it. Moving to the cloud gives you a foundation for innovation. Businesses that move to cloud gain agility that lets them make rapid changes, specifically to contact center processes and how products and services are delivered. For example, a cloud platform lets you create temporary capacity for peak volume in a way that’s much less cumbersome than on-premises systems. Employees can transition to remote access instantly and return to centralized operations, if that suits your business needs.
5. Explore the advantages of AI and digital solutions.
Automating or developing better self-service options enable businesses to handle increased call volume and interactions. Streamlining processes and making it easier for customers to connect with you can also reduce errors. Agents can focus on calls that need the human touch.
Not every business is ready for a full digital transformation, but you can still identify key “hot spots” where customers become bottlenecked along their journeys — whether it’s IVR, chat, your website or other parts of your workflow. For example, identifying problematic transitions from digital touchpoints to agent-assisted ones can further streamline the customer experience.
Next Steps Toward the New Normal
Companies must be ready as they now face a new normal. What’s happening today might change tomorrow. Flexibility and productivity are keys to resiliency – and that resiliency will protect your business as times change. We’re in the middle of a major disruption, but you can use this time as an opportunity. Take a fresh look at your priorities. Start with your employees and create true partnerships with them to help to serve your customers.
Watch the on-demand analyst webinar to gain perspective on how businesses are rapidly evolving their contact center operations to meet the new normal.