COVID-19 RESPONSE FORUM - WEEK 6
Operational markers and channel shift
For many call volumes are down with abandonment rates stabilising. Whilst some are seeing service levels that are much lower than normal and waiting times etc are reducing.
There has been a shift in channels where organisations are encouraging customers via websites and IVR to use digital services rather than call. The success of this is being evidenced by volumes below forecast and a greater uptake on services via Apps and online.
For some absence is now also back to more BAU pre-pandemic. Some are back to 90+% answer rate by using wider resource in the business for example, via branch and retail networks and equipping more people to work at home on laptops. Some workarounds are required due to some systems not being accessible to branch staff but very positive feedback to date from the teams and people involved.
Some offshore capabilities have been lost due to lockdown in other countries so channel shift to social media has been a change for some.
Also, the complaints channel has been used more by customers to fast-track a response where they can no longer email. For others complaints are actually lower than normal as customers issues are being dealt with elsewhere or customers are being more patient and understand there will be a potentially slower response rate than usual.
Whilst some expected spikes in demand are occurring due to normal activities eg statement issuing etc, overall performance levels appear to be evening out as customers contact less or are using digital channels more.
An increase in complexity in calls is having an impact on the length of calls with customers. For the short-term this might mean an increase in abandonment but for many the purpose is to coach customers through using digital services so they will self-manage in future.
Conversely, some public sector organisations have had to significantly reduce the services available to customers as operations can’t be shifted to a homeworking model because of legacy systems and other barriers. Key worker services are being prioritised, but planning is now being considered to deal with the backlog when operations are up and running.
Growing complexity and proactive service
An increase in complex calls is being experienced by many – not necessarily a new type of call that advisors aren’t trained to handle, just more of the complex type being presented, for example what might happen if certain financial difficulties are reached, what services and options might be available to support them? This is encouraging businesses to look at ways in which they can be more proactive and explain to customers the potential support that is available, either by detailing on the website or even through IVR channels eg payment holidays, charges, etc. The anticipated effect is that this will help reduce this type of call into the operation.
Some businesses are keen to explore options for securing external validation on measures being implemented re social distancing guidelines etc for those sites that are still open and also to offer reassurance to employees when they are able to return to work post lockdown. CCA is to share with the group additional information on the services available via CCA Global Standard© and options for virtual assessment using the CCA assessment team once available.
Wellbeing and support to front-line teams
As calls are becoming more regularly complex, and/or responding to vulnerable customers, additional support is needed and being made available for front-line teams eg support from their coaches, additional time off the phone in quiet areas etc. For those who are operating from home, similar support mechanisms are in place using various technologies.
For some formal ‘working from home’ structures and policies are now in place for front-line teams using both previous experience and learnings and also being adapted as new issues are raised.
Communication and engagement efforts have also been reshaped to online communities where they may previously have been on TV screens in the centre for example, resulting in a significant rethink of communication and how this should be undertaken. Closed Facebook sites have proven to be particularly successful and also helps the business keep in contact with those employees that can’t necessarily work from home but allows them to keep in touch with colleagues and keep up to date with business developments.
A point was raised to consider how employee feedback could be effectively gathered and analysed as we emerge from the current models of working and potentially shifting to a ‘new normal’. Businesses are already anticipating they will retain a much higher proportion of homeworking capability than previously but how can we understand from front-line teams their experiences, constructively use their feedback on what worked and what didn’t to build a different model for the future?
This was raised as a point for future discussion and exploration.
Discussion on how employees are using their holiday entitlement within the current year or whether they can carry forward depending on adjusted policies. Many are extending the number of days allowed to be carried forward from 5 to 10 and others have upped the limited to the number of holidays the business can ‘buy back’ from employees so that the full allocation is used within the current year.
Others have stipulated that a certain percentage of leave needs to be taken by mid-year so that this minimises the impact of too many people taking leave later in the year. This could potentially be a huge resourcing and planning issue if holidays are rescheduled to a later date and it was agreed we would bring this issue up regularly on the calls to understand different approaches.
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