I’ve been talking to a number of customer service leaders over the last three weeks, and, unsurprisingly, many are asking how others are coping with this unprecedented environment and if we have any guidance. So, I wanted to take a couple of seconds and share what we’re hearing as well as some thought leadership.

What We’re Hearing

The number one topic we’re hearing about is the shift to working from home (WFH). At this point, most, if not all, have shifted their staff (or are in the process of shifting) to WFH. For those with an existing WFH infrastructure, this hasn’t been a tremendous lift. However, for organizations who didn’t have an existing infrastructure it has proven to be a bit challenging. We’re encouraged, though, by recent conversations indicating the shift has taken about three weeks, and while there have been a few bumps and bruises, so far so good.

The second frequent topic of conversation revolves around how your business is doing. It appears that contact centers are falling into one of two buckets, and it’s largely dependent on industry. You’re either like the hotel chain that I was working with who’s moving at a mile-a-minute and can’t breathe, or you’re like the health insurance company I spoke with who’s seeing volume drop precipitously since fewer and fewer folks are visiting the doctor.

The topic we’re not hearing much about—but should be—is: What should organizations do, today, to be successful tomorrow?

Thought Leadership

Most leaders tend to default to “respect the moment,” but that would be a mistake. Adversity is an opportunity to separate yourself – don’t waste this opportunity! The most successful leaders make bold decisions during uncertain times because they understand three critical insights:

  • This too shall pass. Though things look bleak, we will emerge from this chaos. Do these headlines look familiar? “Job Losses Reach Worst Level in Five Years” and “Vast Bailout by US Proposed in Bid to Stem Economic Crisis.” Believe it or not, these are not headlines from today but from the financial crisis in 2008/2009! While it’s easy to get caught up in the moment, the most successful leaders make strategic decisions, now, to ensure their teams are in position to accelerate out of a crisis.
  • You are in a people business. Your staff, most of whom are already lower paid, are wondering if they will have a job tomorrow. While trying to support customers, they’re wondering how are they going to support their families? The most successful leaders send a signal to their staff in times of crises. Are you like the health insurance firm I mentioned above? They’re using a dip in contact volume to double-down on staff by rolling out new development and training initiatives. This type of investment will lead to better performance and increased engagement.
  • Treat your customers well. Your customers are concerned. Just like your staff, your customers are wondering about their job security, their kids, their savings. You’re either currently encountering, or are about to encounter, an unprecedented level of calls. During these calls, you’ll have an extraordinary opportunity to endear yourself to your customers and truly differentiate yourself from your competitors. Make it easy on your customers to resolve their issues and solve their problems during this difficult time. Give them time back and peace of mind. If you seize this opportunity to do so, you’ll hold a considerable advantage when we return to normalcy and will create that elusive customer loyalty you’ve been searching for.

This pandemic will end at some point. Where do you plan to be when that happens?

Over the next couple of months, we’ll be sharing a wealth of resources on our Effortless Experience Resource Center to help you and your team be effective during this unprecedented time. Resources such as tips and tricks videos, “how-to” tutorials on how to apply low effort skills, virtual summits, virtual roundtables and more! Stay tuned to your email and our social media feeds.

Scott Rothman

Scott Rothman

Scott Rothman is a Director with Challenger’s Service practice. In his role, Scott is responsible for sharing and presenting the Effortless Experience™ research and helping companies execute on their low-effort strategies. He has facilitated and presented on these topics at numerous speaking engagements, including keynotes and industry conferences. Scott holds a BS in Commerce from the McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia and an MBA from The Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University.