Meeting the Challenges of COVID-19 With the Best CX Strategy
In the latest CX-Files podcast, Sitel Group’s CEO - EMEA, Pedro Lozano discusses how the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged even the most robust business continuity approach.
In the latest CX-Files podcast, Sitel Group’s CEO – EMEA, Pedro Lozano discusses how the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged even the most robust business continuity approach and why he believes the work at home contact center model is about to become an element of every brand’s CX delivery strategy.
Hosted by customer experience and technology thought leader Mark Hillary, the CX-Files is available on all podcast apps and dedicated to exploring customer experience trends, understanding what’s on the cutting edge and understanding how leaders within the industry are making a difference for the brands they support.
Leading Clients past the COVID-19 Crisis
In the latest edition of the podcast – Leading Clients past the COVID-19 Crisis – Hillary spoke with our CEO for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), Pedro Lozano, to learn how Sitel Group has responded to this unique disruption and whether any changes being made at the moment will become standard operating procedure in the years ahead.
Lozano was quick to highlight how the coronavirus has challenged even the most comprehensive of Business Continuity Plans (BCP) but also to underline how this situation has challenged a number of clients’ preconceptions towards using a network of work-at-home contact center associates as a viable solution to delivering business as usual levels of customer experience (CX).
Usually, a BCP outlines what to do in the event of a natural disaster such as a weather system, a localized loss of power, a data breach or a cyber or physical attack.
A first-of-its-kind Business Continuity event
But the situation Sitel Group has faced in recent weeks, in the EMEA region and beyond, is a first of its kind. With entire countries, rather than individual buildings locked down and with increasing and increasingly inconsistent government restrictions on operations and movements, as Lozano explains, the only way to respond was to constantly recreate and iterate the group’s business continuity approach and use the safety and well-being of its people as the priority to drive every subsequent consideration.
In this respect, Sitel EMEA has benefited from the fact that it has a 15-country footprint. By taking an agile approach and immediately ingesting and integrating lessons learned, under Lozano’s leadership the organization has been able to launch and test its responses. For example, executing a plan in Italy, then refining it with lessons learned for Spain and then for each European country as restrictions were applied or laws have changed. According to Lozano, this approach has been valuable in keeping Sitel ahead of the curve and proactive, rather than reactive in the UK, migrating services and operations ahead of any official government decision regarding restrictions of movement or temporary shuttering of certain types of business.
Time to embrace the Sitel at Home model
During the discussion, Lozano also explained that attitudes towards remote working are changing rapidly. Before COVID-19 struck, many brands, particularly those with their main operations within the EMEA region, didn’t see the benefit of leveraging a team of remote workers due to security, risk, compliance or fraud concerns.
While the Sitel at Home model was developed specifically around negating each of these potential issues, some brands still had not adopted the virtual work model for their operations – which is genuinely an effective BCP response in these types of situations.
However, as Lozano recounted during the podcast, over the past two weeks alone Sitel EMEA has successfully and seamlessly migrated nearly 9,000 brick-and-mortar contact center associates to remote working and is currently in the process of migrating a further 15,600 people across the 15 countries for which Lozano has responsibility.
Never underestimate the importance of the human touch
As the industry looks to the future Lozano is certain that work at home is going to be an integral business-as-usual element for meeting client needs. With growing acceptance, organizations still need to go through a form of organizational change management to fully exploit this model and integrate it into other existing operations.
The other thing that became abundantly clear to Lozano is Sitel’s belief that customers want to make an emotional connection with another person when faced with a genuine moment of truth is a fact. Even the best supported omnichannel clients saw their phone systems creak under the strain of customer contacts. Therefore, as well as work at home, intelligent automation and self-service tools directly integrated into the contact center for streaming and qualifying contacts are also going to be vital elements of any brand’s CX.