Co-authored by Thu Nguyen, Five9
We’ve been hearing for years that digital transformation is crucial for business success. But, with COVID-19, that need has accelerated because stay-at-home mandates have forced organizations to get remote teams up and running, allowing them to engage with their customers and internal teams.
How will this transition permanently impact workflows, applications and communications? How can you plan for the next emergency and help your customers feel more secure?
Here are five areas where companies should focus to ensure they’re ready for the next emergency so they can continue delivering outstanding customer service.
1 - Think Connected
During a crisis such as COVID-19, corporate policies change rapidly. This impacts an organization’s entire technology stack – from commerce sites to service experiences, all the way through how a company maintains its financials. For example, because travel and physical retail businesses were almost completely shut down, many companies have waived fees, allowing customers to cancel trips or return items they didn’t need. These changes not only had to be communicated to customers via websites, social media and public relations, but also internally.
Employees and systems need to learn how to execute these new changes despite major operational disruptions. Maintaining a collection of siloed, best-in-class solutions may have once been an economical strategy. But, when a wide variety of business processes suddenly change, it can be difficult to achieve speed and consistency. Having an end-to-end integrated solution from the front office to the back office will ensure you can rapidly evolve in response to any changing environments.
2 - Plan for a Crisis
Customer service has evolved very rapidly the past 20 years, with technology playing a critical role in a customer service strategy. Automated processes and a system that "just works" helps the human side focus on customers’ needs. However, during a crisis, processes may change. Understanding where these changes may impact automated and manual processes is critical. Invest resources into creating and maintaining technology blueprints and design documentation will allow you to quickly identify where processes need to be temporarily changed throughout your organization.
It may seem costly to include infrastructure security, Computer Telephony Infrastructure (CTI) and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) solutions as well as Work Force Management (WFM). However, these investments become invaluable when managing a crisis.
3 - Lead with Knowledge and Engage Intelligently
A well-balanced digital strategy allows customers to engage with a brand anytime, anywhere. Balancing various digital channels or channel mix during an emergency can help relieve overloaded contact centers and lessen customer and agent frustration.
At the core of every customer service engagement lies proper knowledge management. Well-curated knowledge articles are your biggest allies during an emergency response. A sophisticated knowledge strategy will ensure everyone throughout the organization, from top executives to those on the front-lines, have consistent and current information.
A well-designed knowledge management system can often answer 80% of customer inquiries, eliminating large volumes of requests into service centers. Although knowledge is very effective, many customers need more personalized answers and prefer to engage directly with the company, rather than search knowledge articles.
In those cases, Intelligent Advice can help lead customers to the right personalized answer. Digital Assistants are smart enough to act as an agent and an integrated digital assistant can leverage the same knowledge and back-end systems as an agent. A well devised and integrated digital assistant strategy that leverages knowledge and intelligent advice can be pivotal to your emergency service action plan.
4 - Focus on the Right Real-Time Channels
Once knowledge and automation are in place, identify which channels require the most attention. This is key to an emergency action plan. This mix will vary depending on each organization’s unique service ecosystem. Base your balance on the skillset of your agents with the channels that require the most resources.
Keep in mind, customers will intuitively shift to channels that require the least amount of effort, even if it's not the channel of their choice. For example, If your IVR system is telling a customer there will be a 6 hour wait, they may decide to engage via chat or a messaging channel instead. But, this risks overwhelming that channel. Act early by launching an emergency resource plan to staff the right real-time channels and turn off hard-to-resource channels to provide better experiences and help manage service request volumes.
5 - Leverage Your Partner Ecosystem
Rapid response and mission critical pivots come at a benefit and price. Scaling teams to react to a crisis may not be possible if the emergency limits the ability to hire and train new staff. Have service experts available on speed dial to create the momentum needed to react swiftly. Companies, like Five9, have quickly turned up customers with their contact center platform solution. Five9 has the ability to quickly migrate contact centers to the cloud. Some companies made the transition in under 48 hours. Five9 offers a transition plan that minimizes any business continuity risks, and enables employees to stay working, connected and safe. This type of response not only helps businesses react but can even save lives during the Covid-19 crisis.
Understanding customer signals all the way through the customer journey and executing on those signals through technology will allow your organization to devise a business strategy that can survive and prosper in a crisis and help your prepare for the next one. Learn more about how Oracle CX Service and Five9 can help with your digital transformation.