Is face-to-face part of a wider omni-channel strategy? What is a great online journey? Paul Smedley highlights ways to update yourself with new developments and create a workforce strategy and operating model that can be sustained, for both organisational ethos and costs.
It’s easy to think that digital is the future and face-to-face is the exact opposite, but this could not be further from the truth. Omni-channel success (pg 68) comes when we create end-to-end experiences that work well for people. It does not mean ‘every channel’ but does require integrating digital with all other channels. If you have stores, face-to-face service or a branch network, these needs to be part of your omni-channel strategy, and you can use tools, like the Four Lens Model and Strategy Pyramid (pg52), to define the purpose of face-to-face within the wider strategy. Planning and insight need to be part of this, so that we help develop an operating model and workforce strategy that can affordably deliver the desired end-to-end customer experience.
Great customer journeys
COVID-19 has demonstrated how much people will use digital channels and work from home, once they have to. In contact centres, we’ve seen changes in service offering and opening hours, driven by resourcing (supply). This will generate insight into how we can manage demand in the future. We can focus on who can’t or won’t go online, how we best help vulnerable people and the role of volunteers, delivery networks or local communities. Face-to-face and digital contact fit together as we solve these issues, and you need a clear focus on planning capacity, to match supply and demand cost effectively. So, as we return, step by step, to a ‘new normal’, how much of this changed behaviour do we want to embed? If we take the initiative, workforce and customer strategies can shape what happens.
This will require changes to our operating model and budget plans and flow through the planning cycle. We will need new data, measures and dashboards. We can learn from the retail sector, where businesses face existential challenge like never before. A great online journey for customers (see pg 68) is absolutely critical and there’s much to learn in the full online versions of award case studies from AA Ireland, Clarks and The Very Group.
Getting started is hardest
Start by going back to basics on each channel, or from scratch in new channel, and learn from a growing body of best practice (see box). Deeply understand what drives demand, and don’t just copy a planning or operating model from elsewhere. Evaluate how resource supply matches demand in different scenarios. A pilot can help hugely in new areas, like social media or web/in-app chat, when the volumes are still small. Before you move further, be clear about what you need for capacity planning, discuss assumptions and distinguish resourcing models led by supply vs demand. Paradoxically, detail can easily become confusing, if there are questions about what it means, how it’s derived or whether it is accurate.
Equally, it’s good to know where there is no data, as giving visibility here is a potential ‘quick win’. In getting useful data, there are usually many obstacles, so be resilient and learn from success by others.
This article was first published in the 2020 Best Practice Guide - 2020 Vision: Crystallising your knowledge
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