Reflections on Post-Covid world and implications for CX and EX

covid reflections CX EX


Q1: It’s been proven time and time again that Happy Employees = Happy Customers = Happy Business/shareholders. Why do you think so many businesses globally are still failing to understand and act on this simple equation?

There has been lots of research over the last ten years that strongly suggests that employee and customer experience are inextricably linked and that one impacts the other in the most fundamental of ways. It’s common sense if you think about it. Without your employees, you won’t be able to provide any sort of customer experience. And, if your employees aren’t engaged and happy in their work, they won’t be able to (or won’t want to) provide a fantastic experience for your customers.

There are many examples of organisations who have fully embraced the concept ranging from Marriot International hotels to Starbucks and from US retailer Zappos to John Lewis in the UK. Unfortunately, there are also many examples of businesses who haven’t yet fully embraced the equation and I think some of the main reasons for this lies mainly in out-dated business models resulting in poor organisational culture with little or no alignment to business Mission or Purpose, very little research of employee opinions, poor recruitment policies and lack of appropriate on-boarding or on-going training/learning opportunities

Q2: What main impacts are you seeing across businesses regarding Covid19?

Customers need more help – call volumes, emails and social media and website queries are all increasing. This impacts on employees working remotely who often feel they aren’t getting enough support and are having to contend with poor internet / broadband speeds and balancing work with looking after children at home. Often this is leading to greater employee stress and sickness. With sometimes fewer employees to provide service, customers are getting increasingly frustrated and unhappy with response times….and the flow-through of this is that employees are experiencing less job satisfaction and more stress.

Q3: How do you think businesses, in general, are coping with Covid19 from an employee and customer experience perspective?

It’s been a bit of a mixed bag. Businesses have scrambled to move their customer support functions to work from home as, despite the challenges, the need to maintain high standards of service has heightened during this Covid19 period. With whole industries in turmoil, businesses have had to deal with a massive increase in inbound customer calls and queries. While most customers will initially look online, if the answer isn’t easily available, they will inevitably reach for the phone to get an answer from a customer service advisor and the now stretched customer service teams can become easily overwhelmed, as happened last month with Canadian airline WestJet whose customers experienced waits over 10 hours. The added pressure of the extra inbound queries was always bound to take its toll. Some businesses have been better than others at looking after their people – it usually comes down to good leadership and displaying empathy and checking in regularly to make sure employees are coping ok.

Q4: What actions have businesses been taking to protect the well-being of their employees during the Covid19 lockdown? Is there anything else they could consider doing to help their people get through this stressful period whilst still delivering great experiences to customers?

The increase in the volume of customer queries (online and offline) has resulted in customer service teams often being overwhelmed resulting in stress, time off work and therefore unhappy customers. Having unhappy, stressed or even sick employees could seriously damage a business’ ability to give high-quality customer service. It is therefore paramount that business focuses on how it can alleviate any increased workplace stress. Customer service leaders should think about measures they can put in place to provide support to their workforce to ensure their well-being. Training managers how to lead remote teams and keep them engaged is critical and training employees how to work from home and maintain their workplace friendships is also a simple action that all Customer service leaders can take.

We’ve seen lots of examples of organisations realigning some of its staff from physical stores to help out on digital and social media channels. Also many have provided lots more useful information on their websites from detailed FAQ’s to case studies, ‘how-to guides’ and helpful video content. One of the most important factors has been leaders checking in on Zoom or phone calls to check how employees are coping and to help remove any barriers. Making sure two-way communication is available has been key. Employees need to know that someone cares and is willing to listen and act wherever possible.

Q5: What simple steps have been most effective for companies in dealing with the increase in customer call volumes and queries during the Covid19 lockdown?

Making useful information available on websites has been key. Standing in the customers’ shoes and thinking about what information they are likely to need and then providing it via the most appropriate means whether that’s FAQs, videos, chat bots, Blogs, social media posts, email newsletters etc. You basically want to address the customers query online if possible so they don’t need to make a phone call.

A great example of this thinking in practice is UK bank TSB’s new Smart Agent Function which sits on its website and gives customers immediate access to the measures the bank has introduced during the pandemic. This not only helps to fulfil customer requirements but also allows TSB employees in contact centres to focus on serving its most vulnerable customers or those that need essential bank services.

Simplicity is key. Business leaders need to remember that building a straightforward, customer-friendly website will not only keep their customers happy but will also help reduce the workload, anxiety and pressure on their customer service staff.

Q6: With so many physical stores closed due to Covid19, many businesses have successfully redeployed staff to digital and social media roles. What are the key considerations in this regard?

Many businesses have been redeploying retail staff to work on dedicated social media accounts or forums where customers can ask questions. This could sit separately from the customer service teams thus, easing the pressure on cs agents and instead redeploying resources from across the business to make sure that customer queries are answered in a timely and responsive manner. As with any customer service channel, training is key. Employees must feel confident using the technology and need to know where they can find answers to questions.

This will not only reduce the workload on call centre staff but also open up new channels of communication with customers – it may even result in higher sales. 

For instance, after 40% of its stores were closed due to the pandemic, Chinese cosmetics company Lin Qingxuan redeployed its 100+ beauty advisors to become online influencers who engaged with customers virtually via WeChat. This innovative use of digital tools to support customers through this turbulent time resulted in a 200% growth of sales in Wuhan compared to the same period in 2019. 

Q7: What are some of the typical detractor issues that businesses are currently facing into due to Covid19 and the lockdown?

Detractor issues can vary from sector to sector but we are seeing a lot of common issues including pricing/cancellations and refunds, complaints about time in call queues, response times taking too long, lack of digital options for things like account opening and closing, payment holiday requests, travel cancellations, broadband and mobile phone problems, safety concerns and lack of options for over 70’s who are not allowed to leave their homes.

Q8: What were the main findings from Adoreboard’s recent survey of remote workers across the UK?

51% of UK workers don’t feel motivated to maintain levels of customer service during the current remote working situation. Reasons for this include lack of internet reliability, slow internet speeds, slow systems due to the sheer amount of users remotely connecting old laptops, low RAM etc. Home office set up issues also featured prominently including sitting on uncomfortable chairs, not sitting far enough apart for those having to go into offices/places of work, lack of (and delays in getting) hand sanitiser and lack of support from managers. Mental health concerns also featured prominently including worry of ill health on family and self, worry about potential job loss, concern about children’s education and not seeing family and close friends and colleagues in person. We expect this to evolve and improve as competition for talent will mean that the best employers will take a holistic approach to facilitating both employee work goals as well as personal needs at home.

Q9: What are the key actions that organisations can take to help improve employee and customer experience at this difficult time?

There are five key considerations that CX leader Aileen Allkins of Allkins of Aileen Allkins Consultancy (AAC) suggested in a webinar with Adoreboard including:

  1. Empathy: demonstrate real empathy, as leaders don’t know what it’s really like for everyone working from home and the various challenges being faced
  2. Listening Systems: What worked in the office doesn’t necessarily work now. Annual staff surveys are not timely enough given everything that employees are having to deal with. Consider regular (weekly or even daily) short pulse survey question(s).
  3. Share actionable insights: this is so important right now. Identify a key issue and follow through by taking action quickly and show employees you are listening.
  4. Communications: Many organisations need to rethink their employee communications. Important not to overload employees with information while they are having to deal with work from home-related issues, family and extra workload.
  5. Culture: Friends at work are very important. As an organisation, how can you enable employees to maintain friendships and cultural values when working remotely. Important to drive and maintain key cultural attributes when working from home – and this should be driven from the top.


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