COVID-19 is changing how we work
The unprecedented spread of COVID-19 around the globe has thrown the global economy into turmoil, upending numerous industries including the tourism and travel industries. The pandemic has also created opportunities for some industries to thrive, while necessitating that businesses begin strategically assessing how they can prosper and adapt during and after these hard times.
Some businesses are resorting to traditional business practices, often because they are familiar with these methods and tactics, and because unexpectedly having to transform one’s business at a large scale is daunting. However, this global pandemic has and will continue to redefine many business models and resorting to traditional methods can prove to be frustrating.
Over the past few months, we have witnessed massive changes, both positive and negative. As a business leader, authentic leadership is going to be expected more often from you. It is imperative that you identify how to harness the current moment to transform your business and set it up to succeed in the future. It is inevitable that the post-pandemic world will comprise significant changes in the way we work, live, and learn. Namely, we are likely going to see major shifts from traditional workplace settings to remote work environments and from static, bureaucratic organisational structures and norms to a dynamic, flexible, and team-focused atmosphere. As these transitions occur, it is vital that leaders assess and improve their employees’ experiences, as this directly impacts the success of an organisation and the experiences of customers. The planning and actions you take now in this regard are therefore integral, as they will give you a competitive advantage and enable you to successfully transition during the upturn.
A case for remote working
Prior to the onset of the pandemic, physical workplaces were considered the standard in most industries. However, as COVID-19 has spread across the world, employees in many sectors and industries have learned to adapt to remote working environments, primarily in their homes. Following the pandemic, it should be possible to establish safe work environments for employees who must work from physical offices. However, many organisations will also take the bold step of introducing primarily remote workspaces, something that was inconceivable for many industries before. The pandemic has demonstrated that by relying on online conferencing tools, it is possible and easy for companies to excel with remote employees. In addition, the rapid shift to a remote work environment has fostered cultural changes within many organisations, often resulting in a renewed and improved sense of collegiality and connection among employees, as well as increased trust and employee empowerment. Further, this transition to remote workspaces has highlighted how much money organisations can save when not allocating significant funds towards travel budgets and office space. As organisations consider making the transition to remote work environments more permanently following the pandemic, they will find the benefits outweigh the risks. However, in order to sustain this approach organisations are encouraged to introduce new policies and norms, such as family-responsible policies, to reduce work-life conflict and increase productivity in the long run.
A case for agile decision making
The increase in trust and collegiality associated with remote working is likely to see employees emerge in a post-pandemic world as more self-confident and willing to readily take on greater responsibility and share their ideas. As a business leader you may wish to capitalise on this and consider how you can develop guidelines and/or introduce or adapt cultural norms and organisational methods that encourage employee empowerment. This process requires a thorough analysis into who you are as a business and what values you espouse. Fostering such an environment will increase employee satisfaction and in turn help you retain top talent going forward. It is fundamental that you invest in your employees and help foster a strong, valuedriven culture at your company.
The correlation between employee experiences and customer satisfaction
As you work to transform your organisation in the wake of the pandemic, it is important to note that there is a direct relationship between the experiences of your employees and the experiences of your customers and in turn, the success of your business. An organisation that produces positive experiences for its employees will also produce positive experiences for its customers. Customers want to engage with organisations that have satisfied and empowered employees.
Failure to listen to the voice of the employee will undoubtedly lead to increased levels of frustration, as well as customer churn, negative reviews, and loss in revenue. Companies that want to succeed with automation and Artifical Intelligence (AI) need to focus on harnessing the talents of the knowledge workers in your company. It is employees who play pivotal roles in how organisations develop, innovate and who will ultimately drive success.
In addition, employees should feel empowered and encouraged to surface issues to management rather than conceal problems. The issues may be related to company processes and systems or individual challenges.
Reduce Employee Burn Out - The case for Omni-Channel and Personalised Customer Experiences
In order to reduce employee burn out, organisations need to move the needle on customer experience by investing in the tools and adoption techniques available to their employees. For example, in the case of a contact centre, customer data should be unified across all channels and employees sufficiently trained to ensure that all customer interactions are seemless. This will enable employees to maintain fluid engagements with consumers, regardless of channel used and reduce employee burn out.
It is also advisable that you personalise your services to help create memorable customer interactions and engagements across all your channels. This will help distinguish your business and its services among employees and customers. One of the biggest challenges in this area is data quality and specifically, keeping track of all communication sent by your organisation to a customer to ensure seemless carry through of a matter. This can be achieved by bringing in experts in next generation personalisation.
Relatedly, AI and Robatic Process Automation (RPA) tools can help boost the efficiency of and satisfaction with your business thereby reducing employee burn out. Today AI-fueled chatbots can be used to ensure that customers receive around the clock support. Chatbots and similar tools can also make use of natural language processing, which will enable you to gain deeper insight into what your customers want and need. These insights can be used to create customer journey maps and personalised engagements ensuring customers receive tailored recommendations and relevant proactive outreach.
5 key actions to help your business come out of COVID-19 on top
As you prepare for the upturn, there are five key actions you can take to ensure your organisation succeeds in a sustainable manner:
The future of work will impact every industry in various ways. Those who have adopted modern digital technologies and lean ways of working are successfully taking the lead in adapting to the future of work. Navigating through the process of transforming your business is challenging but if done right, will be incredibly rewarding.
SMA Consulting understands each organisation’s case is different. We leverage best practices and learnings in our approach to finding the best solution for your company and your unique set of circumstances, as well as the needs of your stakeholders, employees and customers.
If you are ready to innovate and transform the performance of your business and are looking for more than just a one-size-fits-all solution, discover how we can work together to solve your business challenges.