Effortless customer engagement from the home office: 3 tips
Not so long ago it was unthinkable for many of us to keep an organisation running if everybody would work remotely. But when governments worldwide announced measures to fight the coronavirus, many organisations had to act quickly. At OBI4wan we grabbed our laptop, said good-bye to colleagues and went home. Nobody knew for how long and most of us didn’t have a clear plan on how to adapt to the new situation. But by now, working from home has become the new normal for many of us and with the right set-up and mindset it works pretty well. From our experience of the last few weeks, we have 3 tips on how customer service teams can provide effortless customer engagement from the home-office.
1. Use technology to adapt
In order to still be available for customers on their preferred channels, offer quick solutions and work efficiently as one team, having the right tools and technology available in the home office are crucial.
Customer service via the phone
Working from home all of a sudden created some challenges that we had to tackle quickly. For instance, customer calls to the office phone system were transferred to our private mobile phones. This was a quick work-around to still be available for our customers from home, but not a sustainable solution for long term. That’s why we quickly implemented a software solution that lets us handle phone calls from home as efficient as from the office. Etiennette Coster, Customer Happiness Team Lead at OBI4wan explains:
“Now calls come in via Zendesk and are directed only to agents that are available at that moment instead of to the whole team. What is also great, is that customers can leave voicemails that are then sent to us in an audio message via e-mail. Maybe this is a solution we will keep when things are back to normal”.
Messages via social media, live chat and WhatsApp
According to Zendesk’s Benchmark Snapshot on the impact of COVID-19 on CX, customers “increasingly turned to the faster and more convenient channels they use to interact with friends and family, like chat, messaging, and texting. The report shows an increase of 34% for live chat tickets, 21% on companies’ own messaging apps, and nearly 10% over texting and social media messaging apps.
Levi Witbaard, Marketing Director at OBI4wan advises in this interview with the Dutch customer service federation:
“In general, the use of social media and messaging has increased significantly these days. Provide an overview of all the messaging around your brand, products, partners and industry. Make accessibility a priority and think about extending your opening hours if necessary”.
To work efficiently and answer all incoming messages via different customer contact channels as soon as possible, a customer engagement solution is very helpful. It lets you manage all conversations via social media, live chatbot or messenger easily from just one tool. You can see who within the team is working on which case and assign messages to the right person, even if you are working remotely and don’t sit next to each other in the office.
Chatbots as a solution for a higher workload
Some industries are experiencing a significant increase in demand and customer requests since the start of the coronavirus crisis. Think for example of organisations in the travel industry, such as airlines and booking sites. According to Zendesk’s benchmark report, airlines experienced a 60% increase in requests in March and learning companies an increase of 203%.
To quickly scale up your service in these times where it is difficult to hire and train new customer service agents, a chatbot can be a great extra resource, as Alexander de Ruiter, CEO at OBI4wan explained in a recent interview:
“A chatbot is an employee like any other, but with the advantage that it never goes on holiday, never gets ill and is always ready for work. The corona crisis really emphasizes the importance and benefits of chatbots.”
2. Communicate even more than usual and plan your day
This might sound a bit weird as you’re sitting alone in your home office, but this is just the point. To work efficiently from home and act as one team towards customers, communicating with each other is crucial.
“We communicate really everything we do, so that we know what’s going on at any moment and if someone is available or not. Even if one of our kids is crying and we need a moment to take care of it. We depend on each other”, says Etiennette.
Daily stand-ups help to plan the day and to inform team members of important things. So you know what the others are working on and keep each other updated. Also here, technology plays a crucial role and planning meetings with tools like Microsoft Teams or Google Hangouts has become a new routine for many teams.
“We have one meeting with the whole team in the morning to share each other’s agenda and one meeting at the end of the day to discuss anything important that happened during the day, for example when there are any new issues”, Etiennette tells.
Also having a good structure and planning what to focus on day by day really helps to be productive while working from home. Etiennette emphasizes:
Preparation and planning is your best friend and if you want to be proactive, you have to have a plan. Just by planning your day, you get a lot more out of it.
3. Go the extra mile for your customers
We noticed that our Client Happiness Team got more requests than usual in the beginning of the coronavirus crisis. Especially ad-hoc reports on how the brand was doing on social media were requested a lot.
“We take everything serious and try to go the extra mile. One time, somebody contacted us after office hours. I had my laptop still open and called her immediately to help her out. Of course this is not how it should be all the time, but we all try so much to do our best. And also our customers are very understanding, we are all in the same situation. Our customer satisfaction is 93% at the moment”
Globally customer satisfaction rates (CSAT) have already gone up by 1,2% since the beginning of March. According to a recent article on Forbes the coronavirus crisis might even have the potential to improve customer service in the long term. It states that the key for offering better customer service after the crisis and running a successful business is to “(…)figure out how to adapt, incorporate new technology and develop deeper human connections (…).”
So, if organisations take customer satisfaction as a starting point and focus on serving their customers in the best possible way, disruption from the outside, like the coronavirus crisis, does not necessarily have a negative impact on the customer experience. We see the world around us changing and there might be new ways of communication between consumers and organisations, but with the right focus and the readiness to adapt, we are ready for the future.