The coronavirus pandemic has served as an important reminder of the need to work together. At a time when employees are widely distributed, with as many as 75 million people working from home, this can be very difficult to achieve. Technology is helping to fill this void, but most workers remain physically apart.

Customers understand these challenges and have been somewhat forgiving when it comes to service and support. Ultimately, they recognize that we are all working through the same situation – at home. However, customer leniency won’t last forever – and this shouldn’t be expected. In order to get ahead of this inevitable transition and flourish in the post-pandemic market, businesses need to plan accordingly. This means relying on the right technology, people and processes.

Embrace new technology

The digital transformation has been slowly happening for quite some time, but it wasn’t until the pandemic arrived that unexpected challenges were revealed. As it turned out, many organizations were still relying on legacy technology.

When compared to the rest of the world, the United States ranks eighth on NS Media’s Tech Preparedness Index – ahead of Germany (#10) and Luxembourg (#9) but trailing behind Sweden (#3), Singapore (#2) and South Korea (#1), among others. The reality is that a large number of businesses still use outdated mainframe data centers, as well as old devices that cannot meet the needs of today’s innovations. Consequently, they lack security compliance to satisfy the requirements of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). And on top of that, these far-from-modern components cannot provide the experience that their employees, and most importantly their customers, anticipate.

Upgrades aren’t free – there are upfront costs and employees may be concerned about the possible learning curve associated with using new technology. However, organizations don’t have to break the bank to adopt the latest tech. And if the right solutions are selected, employees won’t be forced to learn a new system. The best technology advancements are those that seamlessly integrate with existing business structures.

Make every conversation count

In our current climate, some firms may be tempted to use technologies that mitigate the need for round-the-clock support. However, Accenture found that customers actually prefer to call when they need assistance. Most significantly, call center alternatives overlook the value that’s provided by the hardworking people who answer the phones and resolve customer issues every single day.

Organizations should take note and demonstrate that they understand and appreciate the needs of their customers, as well as their employees. They should also note the important difference between communication and conversation, the latter of which serves as a natural free-flowing discussion between two people that inspires empathetic responses. These are the kinds of interactions – those that can only develop on the phone or, when possible, in person – that separate businesses that thrive from those that do not.

By recognizing the importance of both their people and the technology needed to achieve optimal results, organizations can position themselves for success. And with effective business processes in place to tie the two together, they will be ready to overcome many of the challenges caused by the global pandemic.

Achieve impeccable results with the right processes

Businesses need to realize that while the current climate has sped up the adoption of digitization, this is not an overnight process. The same goes for those who are striving to increase customer and employee satisfaction – these things are no doubt within reach, but they don’t happen instantaneously.

In order for organizations to transition to a newer, more efficient business strategy – where people and technology work in harmony together – the change must be joined by a reassessment of the firm’s processes. Increased alignment between the IT team and leadership is absolutely essential, and the union between people and technology must be nurtured appropriately. Employees should also be properly educated about the new technology they’ll be using to ensure they are informed and prepared to succeed from day one. With the right training, they’ll be equipped to deliver the customer experience that callers expect.

Come together to better serve customers

With most of us working apart physically, the need to work together has never been more important. Call centers do not need to rush back to the office before it is safe to do so – they can connect and work as one productive and effective, customer-helping unit that thrives no matter their location. It is now possible to take home the in-office experience, allowing any home, room or nook to become a place of business for each employee. Satisfied customers can be found on the other end of the line, blissfully unaware of the technology that allowed call agents to promptly answer their questions and resolve their problems.