The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated that many companies had not implemented an adequate business continuity strategy. Resulting in a frantic rush to roll out technology that enables staff to work from home, so business can carry on as normally as possible. However, business continuity planning spans much wider than using the correct technology and should encompass the entire business; not just the IT department.
Lockdown looks set to continue for at least another month, providing you with time to optimise your remote workforce, customer engagement, and streamline operations. Discover new business opportunities and models to be able to respond better if a situation like this occurs again, and reduce costs with hard times yet to come without impacting on the customer experience.
From the top
The pandemic has resulted in a large percentage of the UK working from home under lockdown. Some companies have struggled with the new conditions and staff working at home has been a huge challenge from both a business and technical perspective. This is because often a business continuity strategy is given to the IT department to set up and manage but the responsibility lies with the CEO and the Senior Management team to devise the strategy, set the culture and advocate it throughout the business. The overall business needs to be considered holistically, not just from a technology perspective. This will cover processes, people including staff, customers, suppliers and partners, and of course premises.
Businesses that have had an all-encompassing business continuity strategy in place already have been able to seamlessly transition all staff from offices to home in just a few days without impacting the business processes at all.
Integration for seamless service
Businesses who don’t have remote working technology in place, have either had to call in solution providers to quickly implement a remote working solution, or use conferencing and collaboration tools such as Zoom, Google hangouts, Facetime or WhatsApp video calls. The issue here is that while you can communicate with your colleagues and customers the technology doesn’t integrate with your front and back office systems. Plus, the concerns about the security, particularly when it comes to Zoom is a problem, considering during this time businesses are more vulnerable than ever.
It is key that your unified communications conferencing and collaboration solutions enable people to work from home and also integrate with your front and back office systems so all operations, processes and customer service continues to run smoothly.
Cloud based conferencing and collaboration solutions such as Mitel’s MiTeam Meetings or MiCollab and Avaya’s Spaces empowers employees to hold audio and video conference calls together over their desktop or via a mobile. Send instant messages, collaborate on documents and presentations together. It is important to use intuitive technology that is easy to use, set up and to keep your documents secure to protect data and privacy.
Call in the experts
During the Covid-19 pandemic enabling remote working is not the end goal; business must continue, and extra effort needs to be applied to withstand the hard economic times that will come after the lockdown period. A solutions provider can assist you with how to optimise your remote workforce, step up customer engagement and identify new business opportunities and models to save costs.
Connect with your remote workforce
The challenge now is how to improve the management and effectiveness of your remote workforce. Employees require clear direction of what needs to be done and key performance indicators can be put in place to ensure that employees are achieving. Software such as workforce management tools and collaboration software ensure you can access project progress and knowledge bases.
Remember times are tough at present with many employees home schooling children too, so patience is crucial. It doesn’t matter when they do the work as long as it gets done.
Buffer states that 19 per cent of remote workers get lonely and 17 per cent struggle with communication and collaboration. Make sure your employees still feel connected and schedule virtual coffee breaks, virtual drinks over conferencing and collaboration tools either over video or IM.
Optimise and discover with automation
Utilise this time to discover new business models, streamline operations, processes and increase the effectiveness of customer engagement with disruptive technologies such as automation and artificial intelligence.
During Covid-19 A lot of organisations are experiencing high levels of customer enquiries that are proving difficult to manage and respond. Automation can be used to manage digital interactions and streamline operations to reduce costs, increase efficiencies without impacting on the business’s performance or customer experience.
An automation solution can reside outside the contact centre acting as a triage, processing large volumes of digital interactions such as email, web chat, social messaging or WhatsApp messages, presenting the agent with a single screen of all digital communications. Enabling businesses to only allocate human agents to deal with real time urgent enquiries. It can also prioritise, categorise and create queues and tickets for fulfilment.
“In the most challenging business climate we have ever seen, the biggest gain for us implementing the INBOX is efficiency. We have automated the organisation of our workload during this hectic time and now have the ability to implement self-service for our customers which will lead to improved efficiencies and vast cost-savings,” Neil Whitaker, Head of IT, Sunspot Tours & Mercury Holidays.
An organic approach
Business continuity must be viewed as a business strategy and not a technology strategy. It is essential that everyone in the business is briefed and knows what to do, and what their role is should a disaster occur. It is a circular process that constantly evolves and needs to be regularly fine-tuned and improved; the process never stops. Covid-19 has demonstrated the need for a critical business continuity strategy and who knows maybe going forward the norm will be to work at home or other flexible working options. More opportunities and agile business models will be discovered in these surreal times we find ourselves in.
Stay safe. Stay connected.
Jonathan Sharp, Director, Britannic Technologies