Work from Anywhere

How two customer support teams tackled remote work during a global pandemic

The early days of COVID-19 were a make or break moment for so many service and support teams. The virus drove a radical shift towards digital channels and remote work that impacted both service employees and their customers. For support teams that hadn’t invested in self-service and digital tools like chatbots, the pandemic brought unmanageable surges in call volume that led to long wait times and rampant customer dissatisfaction, as well as burned-out agents.

The CXNext Forum, Adapting Customer Engagement for Today’s World, explored how successful support teams not only managed the chaotic early days of the pandemic but also how they’re continuing to adapt effectively to evolving uncertainty.

Shifting to Remote Work & Remote Service Delivery

For Zhaia Wineinger and her customer service team at the Iowa Department of Transportation (DoT), the initial days of the pandemic were “mass chaos” as she scrambled to support a team suddenly working from home with hardware, software and training while call volume was surging. Fortunately, Wineinger had already started deploying (at small scale) live chat and a chatbot prior to the virus-driven surge. “The bot and live chat really helped relieve the call center [as it transitioned to WFH and] as customer demand spiked,” she said. Wineinger views COVID-19, however unwelcomed, as a catalyst for the DoT’s overdue digital transformation.

For Lisa Maland, Director of Customer Care, LogMeIn, the early days of the pandemic were equally chaotic, especially her efforts to transition a 300-employee call center in Guatemala to a remote/WFH support team. “When the team in Guatemala moved to a WFH setting, we had to quickly consider internet access, wi-fi bandwidth, and even concerns around electricity,” said Maland, “not to mention work environment issues at home like childcare and available workspace.” Maland and her team scrambled but made things work.

Technology Offers a Flexible, Scalable & Future-Proof Solution

With support teams transitioning to remote work, having self-service tools such as chatbots helped address the surges in customer demand, taking some of the workload away from stressed WFH service teams and enabling them to focus on fewer, but more complex customer interactions, many of which were seamlessly escalated from bots. Maland explained that call volume tripled at its peak, but that customer engagement through self-help tools increased by 120%, allowing her WFH team to navigate through the surge.

Wineinger’s team also had to remain flexible in supporting new state rules and regulations, especially around CDL licenses so truck drivers/logistics professionals could continue to operate under Iowa DoT rules. “The live chat really helped us to quickly adapt to changes and serve our customers with the most up-to-date information,” she said, allowing their essential logistics function to continue in a crisis.

The Takeaway

COVID-19 accelerated changes that were already happening, creating a “new normal” for service/support teams and their customers. No matter what happens post-COVID, a landscape of change is here to stay. Customers will continue to demand 24/7 support that’s delivered through digital channels and self-help tools, while support teams will continue to need the capacity to flexibly scale service delivery in a future marked by uncertainty.

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