COVID-19 RESPONSE FORUM - WEEK 1
Organisations are deploying a number of different tactics to combat the potential impact of Coronavirus on workplaces. Among the steps being taken by top CX organisations are limits to intersite travel, splitting key teams to ensure continued functionality, promoting homeworking for those who are able and willing to work from home, increased proactive information communications about the coronavirus, and increased hygiene measures such as more frequent site cleaning and compulsory hand sanitising. Where colleagues have tested positive for the virus, deep cleans are generally carried out and the immediate area surrounding their workstation closed off. Where offices remain open, several organisations have closed down canteens at their contact centre sites, in order to reduce potential infection. Additionally, teams at some sites have been asked to bring personal plates and cutlery to work in order to minimise cross-contamination.
Some businesses are encouraging homeworking, but allowing this to go forward on a part-time basis, meaning that colleagues may only be away from the office 2 or 3 days per week. Others are delivering extended services and supporting colleagues in other teams which have been harder hit or where there is a greater service demand due to questions around the virus. There’s also some management of customer expectations may be necessary, with several organisations drawing their customers’ attention to the fact that telephony offerings are not at their usual level, and that they may wish to use email or webchat instead.
WORKING WITH OUTSOURCING PARTNERS
The consensus is that decreasing travel between partner organisations is desirable where at all possible in order to prevent more widespread infection. It may also be helpful to consider, as some organisations already have done, moving some outsourced supplier teams to inhouse contact centres and vice versa, ensuring that no one part of the service offering – inhouse or outsourced – takes a significantly greater hit.
Of course, there are a number of difficult-to-predict scenarios which may arise within the context of a pandemic. There is the possibility that a country where an outsourced operation exists may go into lockdown, triggering significant complications for businesses with teams based there. This requires organisations to keep a close eye on the developing situation , and to remain agile when creating and maintaining contingency plans.
MAINTAINING ESSENTIAL SERVICE
Issues around sick pay can have powerful knock-on effects in the current situation: if employees have concerns over substantially decreased pay; they may be more inclined to continue to come to work after displaying symptoms, and thereby infect greater numbers.
Prioritising core business processes is key to business continuity: greater numbers of support colleagues in this area can ensure that service continues uninterrupted, as well as alongside new recruits or those who are still going through on-boarding processes, leaving more experienced colleagues to operate independently. Additionally, testing has been undertaken at colleagues’ homes to ensure that their broadband provision is sufficient to allow them to work effectively from home.
There’s also an opportunity to decrease consumer traffic by suspending all non-essential marketing campaigns which may be communicated regularly to consumers via email or social media, and using the opportunity to pro-actively encourage customers to contact and communicate with organisations in the best possible way.