Allan Rowan
Allan Rowan 3 March 2022

The Remote Working Threat to CX – and How to Fix it

Recent research conducted by integrated communications provider Adare SEC has revealed that 80% of corporate decision-makers believe that remote working is damaging the customer experience. Why? Because remote staff are not able to share information quickly with colleagues. So - what's behind these fears, and how are businesses looking to solve this post-pandemic challenge?

The discussion around how and where people will work in the ‘new normal’ continues. Most commentators suggest that remote working will remain – at least in part or in hybrid fashion – with professionals splitting their working time between home, the office and other workspaces.

Whatever the eventual model, it’s clear that many pre-pandemic systems and strategies are simply no longer viable in the long term.

Organisations across every sector have had to flex operations to enable colleagues to work remotely and to maintain business as usual. This has not been without its challenges – particularly in relation to customer communication management.

We recently conducted research amongst 250 senior decision-makers across the financial services, utilities and retail sectors to gain their insight into customer communication challenges and ambitions as we emerge from the pandemic. Amongst the themes covered, we focused on the corporate response to the last two years and the impact of dispersed workforces on the customer experience.

Respondents were asked to agree or disagree with the following statement:

Customer experience is suffering because remote-working staff are not able to share information with colleagues quickly.

80% of respondents ‘strongly agreed’ or ‘agreed’ with the statement. Clearly, businesses within these sectors are not confident that remote working challenges have been robustly addressed.

We focused on the concept of ‘sharing information with colleagues’ because it is critical to the success of any CX strategy. One of the most commonly cited causes of bad service is the experience of being bounced from one contact to the next and having to repeat conversations.

If information is not easily shared throughout a business, then it is difficult to harness a holistic and up-to-date view of customer interactions, and therefore difficult to know precisely where each customer is in their engagement journey.

In fact, the sharing of information within businesses was already a challenge before the pandemic. In too many cases organisations operate in silos, which often presents a false indication of CX proficiency.

For example, if one department or silo is hitting its CX targets, that department will have an impression of CX success. However, customer interactions have many touchpoints. If other departments within the same business are failing to deliver expected service levels, the customer’s overall experience will be one of dissatisfaction.

So, organisations are now not only trying to connect siloed departments, they are also having to connect dispersed teams. The good news is that solutions are proven and available, involving the replacement of unwieldy legacy systems – which still rely heavily on manual paper processes – with more flexible digital alternatives.

Businesses are partnering with experts that have the tools and the experience to quickly drive change without placing further demands on already stretched internal IT departments. The first step is to help business leaders evaluate and review key customer journeys.

What’s the reality for customers? Where are the pain-points? What is the resulting burden in terms of cost and efficiency on the business? Then, sensible steps to improvement are proposed.

Expert partners will work with businesses to construct tailored digital interfaces to support and transform customer interactions. Disparate departments such as marketing, legal and finance will have sight of every stage of an engagement with customers – speeding decision-making and response times.

If this sounds like a huge and expensive undertaking, it shouldn’t. When we asked respondents to name their three top barriers to digital communications progress, 31% identified ‘the scale of the challenge’. There is a perception that digital transformation must involve major disruption and investment.

The reality is that digital progress can happen in small steps and in sprints of development. Smaller tactical business problems can be identified and solved and improvements can happen quickly. When we use the phrase ‘sprints of development’ it is for good reason. Digital customer communication management projects – from discovery to go-live – can take as little as eight weeks.

Businesses were already looking hard at improving the customer experience before the impact of Covid. But the pandemic has both heightened the urgency and thrown more challenges into the mix.

Organisations across our three surveyed sectors are worried that remote working will make information more difficult to share amongst teams and colleagues leading to CX failures. There is certainly a potential risk here.

However, many businesses are perhaps guilty of overestimating the scale of the challenge when it comes to transforming from rigid legacy processes to more flexible digital alternatives. With the right expert support, decision-makers will be reassured that solutions can be implemented cost-effectively and quickly.

No matter where teams operate from, the provision of service to the end-customer can be connected, intelligent and seamless.

Click the link for free access to the full Adare Sec research report – Customer Communication Management in the new normal – priorities, pain-points and ambitions.

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