The future of work will see profound changes in the way firms engage with customers

Businesses are managing a new work dynamic that’s made up of three parts, or three ‘types’ of employee. Some are keen to go back to the office, some want to stay working from home, and some want an entirely flexible arrangement so they can fit work around important personal commitments.

Flexible working can only be facilitated properly if the employees have the right equipment to do their job away from an office setting. For instance, a contact centre coordinator needs a computer with all the CSM software loaded up, company databases, a softphone, a headset, internet of a decent speed and somewhere quiet to work.

Even with all that, they’re still missing a fundamental part of office life, and that’s team support. Newer employees or any employee that runs into an issue won’t be able to get up from their desk to ask their manager for help. They might have to keep a customer on hold for a long time while they connect to their manager to ask questions.

Things that would usually take two minutes now take much longer.

Bearing in mind this is all while juggling new personal challenges too. It can be hard to find a quiet place to work when you have flatmates, family, or children. It’s also hard to get fast, reliable internet, that won’t cut out while you’re trying to download important files or access databases. The combination of work and personal struggles can significantly impact concentration and motivation on the day-to-day.

These challenges can also affect the quality and the speed at which contact centre agents can help customers, and it can cause tension.


Support issues

It’s more important than ever to understand the customer and employee experience, and in fact, the questions to ask are very similar for both groups. What do they need, how are they feeling, what help can we provide them with?

As we move away from lockdown and compulsory remote work, and people choose to continue working remotely, we find that there is potential to create a better work-life balance and even make work more meaningful.

The most talked-about benefits from remote work centre on giving employees time back in their day. By removing the commute and the journeys back and forth from client meetings, employees are given hours back for activities outside work like sport, hobbies and spending time with families.

We’re more flexible, adaptive, and mindful that we can be more productive if we cut down those long meetings and have them take place over a 30-minute zoom call instead. We’re also increasingly empathetic — having struggled through the last year together, both customers and employees have been more understanding of one another.

With greater empathy, and greater time available, the opportunity to create excellent customer experiences opens up. So, while creating open lines of communication is far easier on-site than it is to do so remotely, it’s not impossible.

Your customer service agents won’t have every single answer to satisfy customer enquiries during a crisis, but you can empower them to make the necessary decisions. If your staff are presenting a unified message, are sure of new processes and empowered to make decisions, they present a much stronger impression of your business. This can also have a strong knock-on impact upon your wider customer experience, especially if your customer understands that your business is going through a turbulent time.

When it comes down to it, there’s no objectively wrong or right way to lead your business through a pandemic because it’s all dependent on the context and circumstances. What is certain is that while the ‘future of work’ has thrown new challenges into the mix, empowering teams, and really listening to them is the best way to help them meet the evolving needs of your customers.