Ensuring Continuity in Times of Crisis: What to Do about COVID-19
In just a few months, the emergence of the new COVID-19 coronavirus has changed the world in unsettling ways, costing thousands of lives and countless trillions in economic damage worldwide.
With so many unknowns, it’s hard to know where it will all end. Much less, how to pursue the best strategy in a situation that morphs as authorities and businesses struggle to find solutions.
Offering the chance to preserve essential communications, IT, and back-office business functions, virtual business process outsourcing can help preserve basic functionality when your own infrastructural may be compromised. It can also ensure seamless customer service on an around-the-clock basis, no matter where you or your customers are located.
In the face of widespread requirements to work from home, the power of the virtual network with on-demand workers has never been clearer as in-house operations cut back or close.
For those organizations that haven’t put in place a plan for such a possibility, a digital-and-distributed workforce could offer options as we enter a new period of widespread uncertainty.
Virtual capabilities to deal with rapid change, especially on a large scale such as coronavirus, are built into the on-demand business model from the start. As we’re seeing, asking workers to go remote in the middle of a crisis can be daunting, if not damning, for the unprepared.
Integrated and dispersed, virtual business processes can preserve essential communications, IT and back-office operations—all from afar.
Such full-fledged functionality is integral to an infrastructure’s integrity, which otherwise might be compromised in brick-and-mortar facilities. Traditional office settings or call centers, with crowded workplaces, could transmit the disease unchecked and force shutdowns.
Also, a virtual operation with a remote workforce can ensure nonstop service, no matter where workers or customers are located—social distance or not.
- Enabling flexibility to deal with change
- Managing complexity with real-time expertise
- Drawing from experience to ensure continuity
An ‘Anxious, Rapidly Changing Situation’
According to on-demand workforce expert April Wiita: “Three things are critical for effective customer service in an anxious, rapidly changing situation like this virus, where uninterrupted operations are vital.”
Wiita, Working Solutions vice president of Program Success, said they are:
- Enabling flexibility to deal with change—a lot of it in short order.
- Managing complexity with real-time expertise—no matter how sideways things get.
- Ensure confidence and business continuity—keeping customers calm and service steady.
1. By enabling flexibility, businesses can best meet the needs—and alleviate the concerns—of customers who are confused or even quarantined. Providing guidance, counsel and yes, even hope, to them as things unfold, or unravel, is essential to maintain sanity and steady service.
And, when done right, it can elevate your company’s reputation by taking care of customers, real good care of them, in troubled times. Stand tall to stand out.
So, being fast and flexible are key. Companies that already embrace the concept of a remote workforce have a customer-service edge for a couple of reasons:
- First, with a distributed workers, service can be much more responsive. Operating from thousands of locations, on-demand workers can shift the load outside of harm’s way if the coronavirus becomes concentrated in certain places.
- Second, because these workers can be scaled up or down as much as 200% within a few hours, they can provide exceptional flexibility. This is essential to handle the changing dynamics of the virus as it spreads, and events continue to play out.
2. Given the times, industries now require exceptional customer-service skills to manage the complexity the coronavirus presents. Wiita believes: “Customers expect straight answers from the people who serve them, especially now.”
Customers expect straight answers from the people who serve them, especially now.
No small feat if the in-house staff feels overwhelmed by increased demand, driven by escalating events. What’s more, that feeling can be exacerbated by health concerns of in-office workers in close quarters with colleagues, who might become ill.
Because it’s engineered to operate remotely and, on the fly, the virtual business model is fluid by design, built to deal with the complexities of something like the coronavirus. Using analytics to interpret ever-changing data, recalibrations for in-the-moment service are made as needed. Adjusted as circumstances dictate—by the day, hour or minute.
Relaying data displayed on multiple screens, service professionals must be proficient in dealing with complexity as well. Because no matter how sophisticated the process, it all breaks down if the person helping the customer isn’t at ease with the technology and in control.
3. In the end, ensuring confidence and business continuity are upmost. The times require servicepeople who understand—and empathize with—the predicaments customers find themselves in.
Customers are enduring unusually hard times. Consider being quarantined on a cruise ship, or not being able to visit a loved one in a nursing home. Here, isolation is the enemy.
Customers facing such situations need reassurance. They need to know the person, or persons, on the other end of the line will work—and can continue to work—to resolve things, with compassion.
Think of it this way: Remote workers have options not available to their counterparts stuck in brick-and-mortar facilities. If they’re counterparts are even there. For safety, maybe they were sent home, now waiting to return to work. In traditional workplaces, the virus creates an ever-widening void.
Fact is, an on-demand workforce has plenty of resources and reserves. It’s time-tested. This time by the coronavirus.
That knowledge isn’t just essential for preserving the reputation and sustainability of your brand. It’s also meeting the obligation to the people who entrust you with their business in the first place.
Or, as Wiita puts it: “We’re talking about people’s lives and welfare here. With all the unknowns, it’s worth knowing that someone is working on your behalf, across thousands of miles, if need be. No matter what.”
Learn more about how we can help you preserve essential customer service in light of the current crisis, and beyond. Contact us today to consult one of our business continuity experts.Let's connect.