Doing more with less is a challenge that many achieve with planned, incremental changes. Recent events have shown that the ability to plan is a luxury. They can be slow and expected or sudden and unprecedented, but shifts happen. The dramatic swings in demand and employees moving to a work-from-home model or being furloughed due to COVID-19, pushed leaders to adjust instantly. Many companies were forced to close their doors, adjust their hours, send employees home – all while striving to deliver the same, or higher level of service.
For all of the changes and challenges we’ve been through lately, it appears we’re not in the clear yet. We’ve all heard the rumblings. An imminent global recession is on the horizon. Belts will have to tighten and efficiency will remain a topic of discussion. How leaders prepare and adapt will determine if a company not only survives, but flourishes in the long-term.
Unlike COVID-19 which took everyone by surprise, we know of and can prepare for an impending recession. Even if you’ve been through a recession before, now is the time to take a look at your playbook with fresh eyes. Read on for three important moves leaders need to make now to prepare for the near future.
Don’t Get Trapped By Old Habits
Habits, good or bad, have their place. They help us respond to, make sense of, and navigate life. It’s easy to lean on habits, but they can only do so much. In normal times, habit begs you to draw from your existing and known resources. In the face of large scale change, like a recession, that may not be possible.
For example, during normal operations, when demand spikes in a contact center, managers can respond by hiring more agents. In some contact centers, demand spikes as high as 200-400% were experienced. Amid the social distancing and office closures, many companies were forced to send employees home, while others unexpectedly lost their entire contact center because of mandated lockdowns in the Philippines and India. It was impossible to draw on more resources and to hire more employees to handle the tidal wave of customer requests that came pouring in.
Instead of turning to “how things have always been done”, many companies decided to turn on digital channels to help manage the influx of inquiries from consumers. Adding web chat, messaging, and bots, not only provides consumers with their preferred channels, but also makes your organization much more productive with the use of business text messaging, chat bots, and rich messaging.
Limited resources will continue to be a headwind businesses face in the coming months. Now is the time to look outside of habit. Don’t hire more agents to take more calls. Move the calls to messaging for a fraction of the cost. If you haven’t embraced automation and digital self-service yet, now is the time to explore chatbots. They are extremely easy to deploy and results are instant.
How Leaders Achieve Agility and Stability
As events continue to unfold, ready your business for whatever may come your way. Now is the time to enable your workforce to scale quickly and allow the flexibility to work from anywhere.
Your company can be up and running with messaging and bots in as little as 24-48 hours. Bots can be built to focus on the immediate and most frequent customer inquiries, or the most basic requests, with future iterations building in more complex workflows to meet your needs.
The City of Knoxville first decided to build a bot to answer questions about the 2020 census. Unexpectedly, rapid developments with COVID-19 required that answers to common questions around the virus also be made available, which became more important than the census initiative. A chatbot was built and deployed in days to help answer citizen’s questions. For Knoxville’s leadership, “the web and SMS chatbot offers some assurance that the city call center can stay open, even with employees unable to work in the central office.”
As another example, Stio, a retailer based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, used web chat to reduce the volume of calls during the holiday season. Adding SMS/text messaging to further reduce call volume resulted in 80% of conversations taking place on text messaging. When the company added bots, call volume decreased an additional 9%.
Control What You Can
A global recession is all but certain, Many would argue that it’s already underway. What isn’t certain is its magnitude. No one can control how large or small, or how long it will last.
Taking care of your customers and employees in these uncertain times is where you can take control. Providing superior customer service supports your short-term and long-term business success. How you provide that care today will influence your customer’s behavior and perceptions of your business for years to come.
Giving your employees a sense of control is also important. Serving customers is no easy job. Providing employees with the right tools to help remove some of the friction of working in a contact center is one way you can help your agents through this trying time.
Agents can only answer one phone call or email at a time. Trying to get fewer agents to answer more calls or emails in less time will compromise your quality of service and frustrate your agents. Quiq Messaging gets your agents off the phone by deflecting incoming calls to chat and text messaging where they can handle 7 simultaneous conversations at a time, while still providing a high level of service and attention to your customers. One phone call or seven messaging conversations – the choice is clear.
Take Swift And Decisive Action
Organizational resilience depends on anticipating, responding, and adapting to change. A company’s ability to weather the storms of change have certainly been tested lately and forecasts aren’t predicting clear skies just yet.
It’s only human, when things get tough, to go into self-preservation mode. For some, that might look like making decisions out of panic – like selling your entire stock portfolio at its lowest point and hoarding dozens of rolls of toilet paper.
For others, it may be avoiding investments in their business now that will create returns through a recession and beyond. But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you’re ready to invest in messaging and better prepare for an economic downturn, schedule a demo today so you can see for yourself how messaging and bots can work for your business.