Work-COVID19-Flow.

It is highly likely that your business’ workflow has been interrupted during our current crisis.  Business is not as usual and companies are forced to maintain and build relationships with consumers when their world has been overturned. Businesses are now facing tension between generating sales during a period of extreme economic hardship and respecting the threats to life and livelihood that have altered consumer priorities and preferences.  It’s time to revisit your current workflows and ensure they are meeting the demand of pandemic customers and are able to be followed through by remote employees.

Here are a few items to consider to ensure a streamlined customer service workflow:

  1. Tools

Make sure to choose tools that contribute to a slick roadmap for employees. Find a means to collect data to improve on your systems and processes that are currently in place. The right tools allow you to check the satisfaction level of a customer immediately after interaction with them.  This is vital information when considering workflows and potential alterations to them.  Make use of the FREE mechanisms being offered from other companies who want to help be a part of the solution during this daunting time.  Forbes has a running list online outlining: Free Software That Businesses, Schools And Others Can Use During The COVID-19 Crisis. [1] You are bound to find useful platforms here and should check back regularly as they update this toolbox.

  1. Automate

With social distancing measures in place, there is a growing need to collect and process information remotely.  On a small scale, completing tasks manually may work for you but with limited capacity due to COVID, and if your number of customers and departments increase, this will become too time-consuming and complicated. Shifting to an automated system (sales order processing system, cloud-based workflow software, digital forms, etc.), will relieve you and your staff from tedious administrative tasks, assist with the collection of data and streamline functions you do regularly while remaining contactless in your delivery. In addition, you will see fewer human errors, keep your customers in the loop and ensure they receive prompt replies. If you are using multiple channels to interact with customers, there are several aspects you can automate in order to improve the efficiency of a system. [2] This will lead to more adequate, productive and empowered employees. You will also have a greater chance of meeting customer’s expectations and generating patron satisfaction.

  1. Feedback

We don’t know what we don’t know. According to a study, over 40% of customers prefer to go back to an online store, if their first experience was pleasant. [3] Start with your customers.  You should be obtaining continual feedback from them about their involvement with your business so that you can adapt respectively.  When your business looks at every transaction through the eyes of the customer, you can’t help but deliver a better customer experience, which in turn increases loyalty to your company. [4] You need to combine people, process and technology in the right balance to have a clear understanding of customer experience. Here are five ways to get consistent and high-quality feedback from your customers: surveys, feedback boxes on your product/services pages, reach out directly, user activity from your analytics and data collection and usability tests. [5]

  1. Adaptation

As Charles Darwin noted, “it is not the strongest species that survive, or the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” There’s no one right way to create a workflow. It should be kept simple, be something that works well for you and your team and have the ability to materialize rapidly. The Kaizen method has proven to be useful in times of economic distress. This is because the process involves systematically assessing a workflow or model and then making cooperative efforts to adjust it to generate maximum productivity. [6] The Kaizen approach has five components: [7]

  1. Sort: Eliminate unnecessary tools or components within a workflow
  2. Set In Order: See how the new stripped-down workflow can be arranged for greater efficiency
  3. Sweep: Make certain that all elements necessary to facilitate the workflow are waste-free and primed to operate in the long run
  4. Standardize: Ensure all employees are aware of the new workflow and their obligations within it
  5.  Sustain: Continuously review the workflow and scale as needed

Stay on top of your methods, circumstances can change in the business or new technology could become available that may simplify parts of your process. Consider the required adjustments to account for the effects of COVID-19 and any feedback from your clients about their experience with your business.  You want to be able to adapt your workflow rapidly so that it remains relevant. A customer-centric culture is where it is at if you want to be a leader in the customer service department.

[1] https://www.forbes.com/sites/martingiles/2020/03/19/free-software-for-businesses-and-schools- covid19/#142e107752d6 Accessed April 29th, 2020

[2] https://www.livechat.com/success/customer-service-department-workflow/ Accessed April 30th, 2020

[3] https://learnwoo.com/personalize-customer-experience-woocommerce/ Accessed April 30th, 2020

[4] https://www.superoffice.com/blog/what-is-crm/ Accessed April 30th, 2020

[5] https://neilpatel.com/blog/best-ways-to-get-feedback/ Accessed April 30th, 2020

[6], [7] https://www.business2community.com/brandviews/qmarkets/innovate-adapt-overcome-how-to-beat-a-recession-with-idea-management-continuous-improvement-02277911 Accessed April 30th, 2020