However essential for the entire business world, business continuity in the time of COVID-19 is a complicated process. Some might even call business as usual, with no interruptions or losses, impossible.
Christian Montes sat down with Christa Heibel of CH Consulting to talk about leadership in broad strokes. During their talk, they zoomed in on how the Coronavirus is impacting business leaders and their leadership decisions around the globe – with a special emphasis on the contact center market.
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“I think anyone who’s ever displaced and replaced their technology platform – they know it’s disruptive to the business, they know that there are challenges. It’s never perfect. And it does take time, effort, and resources.
Obviously right now, all of those are things people don’t really have. They don’t have very much time. They’re limited in resources both financially with revenue streams and cash flow drying up. But also being able to say that they weren’t prepared for this.”
“Everybody has been scrambling to set that up and get into that work at home mode. Clearly, those that already have gone into cloud technology and already had outside access set up for some element of work at home prior to this made that transition smoother than others.” – Christa Heibel
The business world is rapidly transitioning and it will look a lot different once we’re on the other side of this. There will be no company that’s not prepared to work from home – or that actually prefers working in the office.
“We have a lot of organizations that we see that just haven’t invested in what we think are adequate self-service options.” – Christa Heibel
Self-service has been postponed by a lot of companies that didn’t want to switch from doing business-as-usual. The current work from home model is forcing these businesses to take a look at all the areas where they could be cutting costs. And self-service is a major cost-cutter.
“For organizations that have been slower to adapt to an omnichannel approach. You should be able now to open up webchat and look at how they can do that more effectively, and/or social media response management, or the self-service options.” – Christa Heibel
A lot of businesses today are hurting due to a lack of foresight in adopting omnichannel. WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Twitter – they’re all becoming valid methods of customer support. Actually – they already were, it just takes a global pandemic for a lot of businesses to realize just how important these communication channels are.
“There are some businesses and some sectors that despite this global chaos are doing okay right now. But we have other clients and vertical markets where revenue has all but almost completely disappeared for them. And so there is going to be a significant impact on budgets for a lot of businesses.” – Christa Heibel
Even companies that are okay after this, or those that display growth – they’re going to be affected by budget changes as well. Prioritizing certain segments versus others to better serve an increasingly remote workforce will be the number one priority.
“Looking at it again and dusting off and making sure you have the right IT strategy in place, and you’re using automation. AI. Bots. Right? Things that will create greater efficiency may end up being important to a lot of P&Ls before this year is over.” – Christa Heibel
Many executives are shaking their heads probably wishing they would’ve opted to reorganize their IT department before COVID-19. This will result in a lot of focus on IT solutions after the crisis is over.
“There’s been a lot of scrambling and a lot of creativity that has been going into trying to manage this situation globally. One business partner rented out an entire hotel out so that they could put their employees and families in quarantine there and could keep them working and online. We know other large BPOs that have actually put housing into their corporate office!” – Christa Heibel
A significant number of international corporations haven’t been paying too much attention to the infrastructure in the countries they expand or outsource to. This has now caused significant losses in countries where working from home is impossible due to limitations such as bandwidth.
“This excites us because a lot of research says that [moving to work at home] opens up a different quality of agent and so I think it’s going to have a long-term, lasting impact on business.” – Christa Heibel
It’s not just the experience with omnichannel that will enable agents to become better – it’s all the things that have to do with work-at-home scenarios. Many employees work a lot better at home and that applies to contact centers as well.
“When you get outside of the technology of transitioning to work-at-home, not everybody does it well, right? So sometimes your top producers go home and it’s not a great fit anymore. And if you don’t have a team seasoned in managing remotely, this is becoming a challenge.
So getting everybody plugged in kind of feels like it was the first step. Now it’s making sure that the wheels stay on track and they’re not just home plugged in, but they’re working effectively.” – Christa Heibel
This is a time that will make or break most managers. The way they adapt their management style to fit a WFH scenario will be something most executives consider when making decisions from now on.
“We’re definitely seeing organizations that have not had a previous work-at-home program. They’re scrambling into that a little bit. And again, they’re just like getting people home and online and trying to figure that out. There’s kind of more of a phased approach.
Some of them are not even trying to do or be everything that they were three weeks ago in the office. They’re just trying to maintain kind of a minimal level of support in hoping that this really short-term self-quarantine phase ends in a reasonable amount of time.”
– Christa Heibel
Many companies even in the US are reluctant to switch to work from home and choose to risk it in the office. Oftentimes this approach leads to dire consequences as we have seen in several news reports related to contact centers during COVID-19.
“There are others that are taking the opportunity to deploy new things. And they’re doing it and moving swiftly and aggressively. So much of that depends on the financial situation of the organization. Again – not all are being hurt at this point.
Zoom is an example of a company whose stock is going up and usage is going up and I think they’re having some support challenges and issues right now. So, there are deployments and implementations happening where the financial and IT resources or subject-matter-expert resources are available to make that happen.” – Christa Heibel
Some businesses are taking this opportunity to implement solutions that will benefit them in the future. Like switching to a fully remote omnichannel contact center solution – and doing so now while everyone is adapting, because everyone will understand if you are.
To hear more from the discussion, you can listen to the entire fourth episode of First Contact, Stories of the Call Center here.
Christa gave many more valuable insights into leadership during COVID-19 and into the contact center market overall.
And if you need help with a better software solution for your Contact Center, don’t hesitate to fill out the form below and we’ll have up and running in 72 hours, guaranteed.
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