As we wind down the summer, the Effortless Experience team at Challenger deployed our fourth pulse survey to service and support leaders to continue our investigation into how organizations are faring during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Entering into our sixth month of social distancing, job insecurity, and economic turmoil, it was not surprising to see that service leaders continue to extend their guesses as to how long this period of uncertainty will last.  In our first survey (March), most service leaders believed that business would be back to “normal” by late July 2020.  By this fourth survey (August), that timeline had extended until July 2021.

Interestingly, the customer experience does not appear that different than normal circumstances.  Most leaders report their customer-facing metrics (e.g., NPS, CES, CSAT) as well as internal productivity metrics (e.g., AHT, after-call work, talk time) are steady. 

In the above charts, did you notice that the productivity-related metrics most likely to be better than normal are schedule adherence (top left) and absenteeism (top right)?  Given that 83% of organizations report that they are still at least 76% work-from-home, it appears that one benefit of the flexibility that comes with remote work is improved attendance and adherence.  Both of these would point to an uptick in employee engagement, which is further reinforced by the lower voluntary attrition rates that 55% of organizations are experiencing.  A final note in the good news department: 47% of leaders expect to see employee engagement increase across the next three to six months.  Most organizations are not anticipating widespread “return to the office” migrations before January, so this would suggest that most leaders are predicting that this boost to morale will happen in a remote environment.  One reason for this may be employee appreciation for the on-going flexibility to work remotely, especially as many schools are continuing some form of distance learning and parents with children are juggling childcare with work obligations.

Switching gears slightly, we asked a few questions in the survey about coaching effectiveness in a remote environment.  As you’ll see below, a large majority (73%) of leaders believe their supervisors are effective at remote coaching.  While this is of course good news, it is important to pause and consider what’s going on with the other 27% of supervisors.  Said differently, this data would suggest that one in four supervisors are struggling to be effective coaches in a WFH environment…which means one in four reps are not receiving the developmental support to deliver a better service experience to your customers.

At first glance, it may not seem that bad…only 27% are struggling.  That’s less than half!  Yes, but…what we know from our research about driving performance through effective coaching is that you have to be doing it well.  In fact, bad coaching hurts performance twice as much as good coaching helps.  All of a sudden, 27% seems like an alarming number to be struggling, no?  We’ve blogged a lot recently about remote coaching and driving coaching accountability, and if you haven’t seen these articles, I’d encourage you to browse:

We are also ready to more directly help you improve the quality of the coaching happening at your organization.  Drop us a note to get started!

Click here to download the full results from our fourth pulse survey.

Lauren Pragoff

Lauren Pragoff

Lauren Pragoff is the Vice President of Challenger's Service practice, Effortless Experience. In her role, Lauren manages several tailored product offerings designed to help companies in their journey to become low-effort service organizations.