In 1999 everybody was worried about Y2K. Will our computers boot up? Can we pay our employees? Will cars start? Do we have enough toilet paper? I managed a global call center during the Y2K fear, and my company spent a full twelve months contingency planning for everything that could potentially fail when the calendar flipped over to the new millennium.
Y2K planning at my organization included developing a contingency plan that flowed out to five levels, meaning we had a plan B, C, all the way to a plan E. If our plan B failed to execute, we had three more options to ensure business continuity. You know that when the clock struck midnight, Cinderella kept dancing, and the party went on. So, we never had to test our glass slippers on dangerous slopes.
But the COVID-19 pandemic is testing businesses for continuity. And most of us didn’t have a five-level contingency plan in place to carry us through midnight.
Your employees are probably working from home now. It’s fantastic that we can all support customers remotely. In my discussions with clients these days, I’m warning them to watch out for three things as they swiftly move into remote customer service.
3 Quick Tips for the Things That Will Go Wrong with Remote Workers
1. What Will You Do If A Remote Employee’s Internet Is Down?
One of my team members was hosting a webinar for us from her home years ago for a big client, and her Internet kept dropping. It was embarrassing, and after three internet outages, she had to abandon the live online training!
I learned something that day – always, always, have a backup Internet plan. Make sure you have a backup plan for Internet in your remote employees’ homes. Mobile hotspots are a smart option for us. We have Cox Internet in our office, and we also have a robust mobile hotspot we trust. Additionally, our business cellphone plan also has a hotspot for each device. We always have a backup plan for the Internet.
2. Do You Have a Remote Communication Plan for Escalations?
When an employee gets stuck on a challenging issue with a customer, can they quickly reach a supervisor for support? Have a clear pipeline for agents to get in touch with you. This might be text, instant messaging, or a forum that is active and swift. Just don’t leave your employees alone to struggle through tough conversations.
3. Is Your Customer Experience Consistent?
Make sure your service levels remain consistent. Employees need to use the same greeting, provide accurate answers, and they all must interact with confidence, and display product or service knowledge. To ensure consistency, you still need to monitor interactions, give feedback, and provide guidance.
Even during COVID-19, support your team in the soft elements of service – the sound, flow, and feel, so the frontline reflects the soul of your brand over every contact channel. You also need to make sure your employees are assured of their ability to handle challenging customers.
Your agents already love working from home. COVID-19 is transforming how we work and interact, and remote working could become the norm. Grow into the new normal by developing contingency plans and by thinking through how to communicate with employees, and how to ensure a consistent experience.