All organisations, great and small, must look ahead to grow and improve performance, whether this is developing new products and services, or by adding and satisfying more customers.

As they grow, they must develop and stress-test crisis management plans to ensure robustness in the face of high demand.

However, the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic now affecting every part of the world has reached proportions that could not realistically have been planned for. It has quickly grown from an existential illness confined to one part of the world to a very real global threat to people and economies.

Some sectors, such as sport, hospitality and travel, have already seen significant disruption and many others are bracing for what comes next in a dynamic and fast-changing situation.

Efforts to contain the virus have been stepped up by governments, at least in the short term, and are having a dramatic effect on businesses. These often allow for no planning or change management.

In times of distress, it’s natural that people have questions and customer service is the obvious place to find answers.

Having emergency plans to keep our staff safe while providing continuity of service to clients and their customers is a key element of outsourcing. Customer service delivered from home is a way of achieving these aims.

Virtual Customer Service

Changing customer service delivery to a more distributed model is probably not on the to-do list of most organisations and, for those that it is, it might be more of a nice-to-have than a priority.

However, the current crisis has brought about a dramatic change, propelling home-based customer service to the top of current priorities.

Many are finding out just how hard this can be to fully execute successfully. It takes years to establish and grow a solution as rich and complete as SYKESHome, which I product manage for SYKES in Europe.

To move quickly to a virtual customer service model in the face of today’s challenges, many organisations have accepted compromises.

Their internal team and partners don’t have the skills or resources to fully execute what they delivered in-centre in a home-based agent model. In some cases, voice calls can’t be handled. In others, untrained staff are answering calls.

It didn’t need to be like this, as SYKESHome shows.

Hundreds of home-based agents across Europe have become thousands in just ten days as in-centre colleagues joined them to deliver exactly the same service as their previous shift in the contact centre. And thousands around the world have become tens of thousands in the same period.

A recent comment in LinkedIn provides an outsider’s view Sykes has one of the best in class work from home platforms and operational governance systems. I competed against Sykes for years and their @home operational performance, employee retention and up time was stellar.”

For reassurance amid uncertainty (or chaos) being ready to work from home makes commercial sense, and fits with employee needs, too, as many look for an occupation that fits their personal circumstances.

For more information on how SYKESHome can be integrated into your company’s customer service model, please get in touch.

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