With the COVID-19 pandemic winding down in a number of countries, businesses are still hesitant to return their workers to the office. As such, many businesses are still running their workplace at partial capacity, while the remaining staff continue to work from home. This pandemic has brought about a “new normal”, and things will not likely go back to the way it was pre-pandemic.
But what does this mean for the customer experience?
Can the customer experience truly be better from home? With so many CX professionals working from home today, it has to be better.
The challenges of doing so will no doubt be difficult, but we have little choice in the matter. Leaders behind the scenes can help front-liner employees be more successful in handling the new challenges of working from home.
“A work-from-home workforce, if managed and nurtured properly, can raise productivity, engagement and employee retention,” said John Quaglietta, senior director analyst in the Gartner Customer Service & Support practice. “Overseeing a team of work-from-home employees doesn’t come naturally to many leaders who are accustomed to engaging with service reps frequently throughout the day. This will require changes in leadership and management approaches to ensure engagement and productivity, but service leaders should understand that most day-to-day functions will remain relatively the same.”
The work-from-home approach will very likely be a ‘new normal’ going forward. As such, mastering and approving such an approach will be key to the customer experience. Remote teams will become more commonplace and will be vital to a business’ continuity strategy. In order to maintain such remote teams while delivering top quality experiences, Gartner has a few recommendations.
Tweaking the leadership approach
“Communication is one of the key differences when shifting to a WFH approach, so service leaders must ensure they communicate clearly and often with their workforce,” says Quaglietta.
Businesses should be proactive in building a new culture. Employees should be given more opportunities to collaborate, offer feedback, and participate in developing the remote working program.
Leaders should also try to learn to read and react to employees virtually; always keeping in touch with the troubles and challenges they are facing and how you can help them.
With remote teams, leaders will need to continuously monitor performance. However, this can lead to trust issues between management and employees. As such, Quaglietta suggests that leaders take a “trust, but verify” approach.
“Implement standards, controls and management systems to enable teams to stay accountable while being able to thrive in this new setting. For example, take the time to understand the performance peaks and personal commitments of individual team members, and develop daily, weekly and monthly performance management reviews,” said Quaglietta.
Offer new incentives
“Those incentive and reward programs that worked on-site may now be irrelevant in a work from home setting,” says Quaglietta.
With a new form of work, businesses should use new measures and factors in recognising qualities in a remote setting. For example, a company can recognise a remote workers, productivity, accountability, collaboration, and communication.
It would also be a good idea to make a few changes to the rewards program as well. That might include preferential schedules, microshifts, additional paid time off, ergonomic desks and chairs or larger monitors.