Organisations that put robust plans in place and remain loyal to customers’ wishes and culture stand the best chance of a future-proof business
Many organisations are looking ahead to consider how operations may look in a post-COVID-19 world, and shoring up a future-proof business. In these times of great uncertainty, one thing’s for sure: the Coronavirus outbreak will have a lasting impact. The businesses that will thrive in future are those that put robust plans in place to adapt to the changing needs of employees and clients/customers and now is the time to do so. Here follows some expert advice.
Research released last month revealed that 55 per cent of United Kingdom workers had little or no experience of working from home prior to COVID-19, so shifting to a remote-working environment was a huge learning curve for many businesses.
By April, Moneypenny research found that a third of companies had transitioned to a completely remote team, with a further 16 per cent saying that around 90 per cent of their workforce was working from home and 19 per cent saying around 75-90 per cent of their team was now home-based.
And, despite any initial reservations, technical glitches or logistical hurdles, it’s predicted that the option to work from home will remain a firm feature of many businesses moving forward.
The challenge now is for businesses to formalise their “quick-fix” solutions so that agility is engrained in their operations. For example, a skeleton office-based team taking messages or giving out mobile numbers may have sufficed during the first few weeks of lockdown, but it’s not an appropriate long-term solution in an agile age.
KEEP CULTURE AT THE CORE
Strong workplace culture has the power to transform a business and carry it through the toughest of times. By putting solidarity and high morale at the top of the corporate agenda, employers can ensure that culture plays its part in a successful recovery from the outbreak.
TRUST THE EXPERTS
Since the implementation of lockdown, companies have operated from the homes of their employees. As such, employers have had to explore new ways of working and communicating internally and externally. Some have found that the solutions they’ve traditionally relied on no longer serve a purpose, while others have discovered that the equipment they have available at home doesn’t meet the standard of that in their workplace. As a result, 38 per cent of businesses have had to invest in extra software or technology.
Without the luxury of time and security of guaranteed cashflow to build and implement bespoke solutions, savvy business owners have turned to the experts to support them with business continuity. For some, it’s been a case of capitalising on existing relationships but for others, new products have been investigated and partnerships formed.
Research carried out pre-COVID-19 revealed that 70 per cent of businesses planned to increase their use of outsourcing in 2020, with 35 per cent planning to do so significantly. A global pandemic has only served to accelerate these decisions and organisations are seeking the support of professionals to help them streamline processes, save costs and enable employees to focus on core business objectives without the distraction of tasks outside of this area.
Investment in technologies – such as telephone answering and live chat – to help keep businesses afloat during the crisis will become especially valuable post-pandemic. They will help to support new ways of working and improve client/customer experience – putting businesses in a stronger position than they were prior to COVID and presenting a unique opportunity to accelerate growth.
FIVE TIPS ON CUSTOMER BEHAVIOURS TO REMEMBER POST-COVID-19
- People value human interaction. Call duration has increased during lockdown. This is largely due to callers craving human interaction. However, life after lockdown might see call durations and volumes return to pre-Coronavirus rates, but our desire for meaningful human interaction will remain.
- Treat callers as individuals. Some 59 per cent of people calling businesses consider being treated as an individual as more important than how quickly their needs were met or an issue resolved. During a pandemic, the need to be heard is more important and the businesses that do it well will be remembered for it.
- Longer interactions provide more customer insights. It is possible to gauge appetite for a certain product offering, improve the understanding of audience segments and to tailor products and services accordingly. Real people can show interest – empathy and urgency stand out and make callers feel important and valued. Those using live chat tend to discuss their circumstances more openly. It seems that the act of typing rather than talking is liberating and presents a significant opportunity to improve customer understanding and nurture prospects through the sale cycle.
- Don’t underestimate the power of the phone for new business. Despite a boom in the use of social media to contact businesses the telephone still remains the most important communication method for customers to connect with businesses in the UK. Indeed, 43 per cent of UK businesses say phone calls are even more important during lockdown.
- People want reassurance and expertise. Even after lockdown some uncertainty will continue and reassurance comes from being accessible and efficient at all times of the night and day.