For the safety of workers, the COVID-19 pandemic pushed customer experience (CX) leaders to adopt work-from-home (WFH) as their new delivery model. During the transition to WFH, many brands were adopting more empathetic practices toward team members and customers, resulting in impressive KPI and SLA performance. Organizations must increase their investment in empowering employees to keep the momentum going.
That's the consensus from a recent virtual panel discussion called "The Future of CX Delivery: Applying the Learnings from COVID-19," sponsored by Frost & Sullivan, in partnership with TELUS International. During the panel, seven leaders and experts in customer experience discussed how the learnings from the COVID-19 crisis will improve the future of CX design, delivery and the agent experience (AX).
The article below shares a few of the key findings. Be sure to download the full report here!
COVID-19 has forced everyone to adapt their company's way of working and culture. Many would love to go back to in-person, but the pandemic has made that increasingly difficult. The "new normal" is not one single reality but multiple ones in continuous evolution, say thought leaders from United Health Group, Credit Karma, Molekule, Ceva, BetterHelp, FedEx and TELUS International.
Adapting to the new 'hybrid' normal
To future-proof their operations against further disruption, internal teams and their outsourced partners are building a new, more flexible hybrid model of customer experience that combines WFH with in-person delivery.
Even if companies were gradually enabling work-at-home capabilities when the pandemic hit, most CX leaders admit being taken by surprise by full-force WFH. Now, no one can envision a world where agents would ever go back to a 100% in-center model. “I think we all got a hall pass in March when the world changed and we weren't prepared. We won't get that hall pass again," says Lex Lannom, managing director at FedEx.
How the new normal helped adapt corporate cultures
The pandemic forced perspectives on work-life balance to change, and some companies took notice of the challenges their people were facing. For many, it became an appropriate time to build more worker-friendly systems. “I definitely think the pandemic was an eye-opener for all of us, creating the right flexibility in terms of work-life balance, hours of operation, and helping parents who are juggling work and life," says Vinatha Kutagula, vice-president of member success at Credit Karma.
How teams have rethought hiring and training during COVID
The CX leaders on the panel agreed that some areas ripe for more flexible delivery were hiring and training. A remote delivery model can actually expand the pool of potential talent, but panelists agree that remote hiring requires new processes, even implementing biometrics for screening and authentication.
Several firms have pivoted away from instructor-led training toward self-paced and asynchronous training — creative solutions that can deliver better results, says Jim Radzicki, chief technology officer at TELUS International. For example, he suggests replacing four weeks of continuous at-home online training with smaller, self-driven modules balanced by hands-on practice.
The pandemic's impact on KPIs and digital transformation
Speaking of balance, CX leaders must strike a delicate one when pushing team members to hit KPIs while creating programs that build employee engagement. While she's hired more than a dozen fantastic new team members since the pandemic, Farrah Moore, director of support at BetterHelp, says agents appreciate the extra efforts to build engagement, but that “they start to feel like a number when they're being measured so heavily on the numbers they provide."
With the help of AI, some leaders are able to make hitting KPIs and engaging team members complementary activities. As reported by a global IT company on the panel, 50% of its customer interactions were simple enough to be addressed by a chatbot, resulting in the company implementing an AI-driven solution to handle future spikes in volume like those experienced in March and April.
Such solutions can reduce effort for both agents and customers. Regardless of channel, Jay Kershner, vice-president of customer service at Molekule says his team's goal is to “future-proof [customer] problems and help anticipate questions they may have in the future." For many CX leaders, by offering proactive assistance, the goal is to reduce customer effort and prevent future contacts.
In all, the panel discussion highlighted that CX leaders have already made strong adaptations in the face of COVID-19. Now, they are executing revised strategies to further improve processes, technology, SLAs and KPIs, while building even stronger relationships with their CX outsourced partners — all with the goal of demonstrating authentic empathy for customers.
For full details and insights from these CX leaders, download the full article here!