Now more than ever, our global community is coming together to face the COVID-19 crisis. Businesses across the world are experiencing unprecedented conditions that have completely shifted traditional supply and demand. But business disruption is not a new concept. The idea of investing in customer-centric processes and digital tools remains more relevant now than ever before.
We sat down with some of Bluewolf’s experts who are working in real-time with leaders around the world who are navigating through this crisis.
*Virtual panel conversation with Simon Shaw, Customer Service Practice Director; Joahna Kuiper, Global Lead, Salesforce Offering; and Daniel Keith, Director of Salesforce Standards and Tools*
What do you see as some of the most pressing challenges businesses are facing due to COVID-19?
Joahna Kuiper (JK): Businesses are struggling to decide what type of action to take: whether that be reacting tactically versus strategically, or not reacting at all. The biggest value Bluewolf is bringing our clients is the ability to keep their businesses moving forward in a conscious way. It’s our job to understand our client’s business and advise them regarding the urgent decisions they need to make now, and in the future.
Simon Shaw (SS): I agree, the decisions companies need to make are increasingly complicated because the information and guidance they are receiving seems to change daily. Organizations are trying to make adjustments in real time that support their customers’ and employees’ health and well-being, and make sure their businesses remain strong and competitive.
Daniel Keith (DK): Because of the ever-changing nature of this situation, staffing has been particularly challenging. While many industries like travel and hospitality have been forced to drastically cut back, others, like healthcare, have had to bring on new support to keep up with demand. Companies are also adapting to a new remote work culture and are trying to find engaging ways to collaborate while being able to quickly scale resources up or down. Our team is already set up to work remotely with clients and we can help them scale their teams to meet these challenges quickly.
How is the need to be customer-centric changing what companies are focused on right now?
JK: I think this depends on the industry, but common to everyone is the need to practice empathy. Doing what is in the best interest of your employees and customers, applying understanding to what people are going through, should be the primary goal. Organizations that are focusing their energy on responding to the situation more broadly, to how they fit in the larger scale, and really trying to do the right thing now – those are the companies that people will trust and remember after this crisis is over.
SS: Companies need to address their demand issues, while still communicating accurate information with empathy and compassion. Customer service departments, and employees on the frontlines of this pandemic like healthcare providers, need additional support. Virtual assistants, especially AI-powered chatbots, can be extremely helpful offloading repetitive questions and requests. In a time when information is changing by the minute, you only have to make the change once if your agents are using a chatbot or if there is a dynamic knowledge base where customers can self-serve.
DK: Creating a flexible resource model that helps companies adjust based on the circumstances is crucial for companies right now. Having a decentralized workforce that allows you to scale up or down with a global footprint, while still retaining a core set of resources, is the definition of rapid response.
Many companies had a strategic plan going into 2020 which they’ve had to drastically pivot to address the current situation. What kinds of immediate technology changes are you seeing companies make, and what is setting leaders apart as the most forward-thinking?
SS: Fundamentally it’s about looking at this in stages. First, what can we identify and fix immediately? Most are in tactical/triage mode, but the companies that are in the best shape are also looking at the short and medium-term strategies, and asking: what can we fix soon, once we get over the initial peak of COVID-19? And finally, What initiatives can we put in place in the next few months or years to ensure that we’re in a better position than we are in right now?
JK: The most forward-thinking companies are taking a good look at their portfolio of projects and their technology roadmap and are asking themselves which factors have really changed, aside from just their ability to invest in the project. The questions really become: What projects will continue to provide value to the customer and employee experiences during and after this crisis? What should we invest in to take advantage of the work we are doing during the pandemic to set us up for greater agility after this event? We are seeing a validation of companies who have previously invested in digital transformation, who have already laid the foundation for putting their business in the cloud and being employee and customer centric. They are the ones who have an easier time with many of the workforce adjustments that are needed now.
DK: I feel like it’s important for businesses to realize that they need to establish a “new normal.” We have no idea what the lasting effects of COVID-19 will be or how long it will change the way we work and live. Once the immediate crisis has died down, organizations should be thinking about ways to formalize new processes and procedures that support a remote working environment, and more importantly, empower employees to thrive and be successful despite any localized challenges.
How is Bluewolf uniquely qualified to help organizations get through this challenging time?
SS: Bluewolf specializes in Salesforce, which has been virtual its whole life. The native structure of the platform is to work and collaborate with everyone from anywhere and tie together employee and customer experience. This is core to Bluewolf’s DNA. Our resources are accustomed to working remotely and thrive in that environment, and we can provide virtual discovery sessions—to help companies figure out what to fix now—and how to get started.
DK: We also have a really unique understanding of your technology footprint. Even if you haven't worked with Bluewolf, it’s very likely that IBM has touched some part of your business because we’ve either built the technology or transformed it within the last 100 years. Bluewolf’s deep expertise covers the entire spectrum of Salesforce’s capabilities, complemented by IBM’s wide range of technologies from AI and blockchain to OpenShift.
JK: Amidst all of this chaos and ambiguity, there are some really interesting opportunities that companies can take advantage of right now. The best companies will make the necessary changes and scale what they need to do now, but they will track, monitor and measure what they are doing so that they don’t lose everything that they’ve learned during the moment of crisis. Bluewolf can help organizations make sense of their data and learnings, and create a plan to implement some of their triage decisions more consciously in the future.
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