Your WFH strategy needs to go beyond disaster recovery
While work from home (WFH) has been an option for contact centres for many years, its utilisation has been sporadic and limited at best. There is no doubt that the current COVID-19 pandemic has spurred incredible growth in the number of South African organisations embracing WFH in their response. However, WFH shouldn’t only be used as a tactic for disaster recovery. Instead, organisations now have a unique opportunity to adopt a new strategic approach to working from home. For the contact centre specifically, this means adopting operating models that are focused on the future in a changing world.
Meaning “Home”, Ekhaya is a next-level solution for business home working, powered by Merchants, which allows businesses to embrace the new normal by being prepared, balancing risk and improving their WFH strategies.
“The current pandemic has forced us to ask ‘why’ and address the challenges that have been an anchor to successful deployment of WFH strategies for two decades,” explains Darren Arnold, COO at Merchants. “Globally, organisations looking to implement WFH strategies face challenges around organisational culture, training, cyber security, productivity and identifying the right candidates, for example. In South Africa specifically, those working from home are facing additional challenges such as sub-standard connectivity, cyber security threats and power outages.”
“Whilst customers have demonstrated significant patience during this period of disruption, organisations cannot rely on this continuing. Customer Experience (CX) is a key differentiator for organisations operating in today’s competitive business environment, and the Merchants solution ensures that security is not compromised; that there is high quality internet connectivity and seamless UPS to ensure power provision for all Ekhaya deployments.”
When looking at their WFH strategies and whether or not these are future-ready, leaders need to ask themselves some important questions:
- Will technology solve all of your home working needs?
- Have you chosen the right people for home working?
- Do you offer the right support for your people at home?
- Is home working part of your strategy for the future?
- Are you prepared for the next black swan event?
- Does your work-from-home solution guarantee the same levels of customer experience?
- Are you meeting your duty of care to your work-from-home agents?
If the answer to any of these questions is “no”, Ekhaya offers the next level WFH solution, because:
We start with our people
We believe that people matter, so we focus on using the right technology to create the right experience for people. “Working from home effectively and productively is not merely connected to personal preference on behalf of the employee in question. Even with significant efforts to ensure that WFH home agents remain connected culturally, some people are better suited to the more social environment of a traditional office space. Through smart recruitment and screening, we only choose people who will thrive as work-from-home Ekhaya agents,” explains Arnold. “WFH also presents the opportunity to broaden the labour pool to include those with disabilities, unemployed graduates, and return to work parents, for example.”
Further to this, Merchants Group CRO, Mat Conn, explains that on average 30% of agent salaries are spent on transport. “Allowing agents to WFH has a direct impact on their disposable income, which can assist in reducing attrition,” he explains.
We give them everything they need
Our office-in-a-box creates a high-quality, portable workspace suitable for any home environment. This includes top of the range equipment, power backups, fibre connectivity, home office furniture, security and real-time collaboration tools, to ensure the highest standards of customer experience delivery.
“We know that during any disaster recovery scenario the first focus is to continue servicing customers. However, the duty of care to our people remains, and it is imperative that we consider all aspects of our employees’ welfare, from their emotional state to the chair they are working from. This solution is aimed at assisting organisations and their staff to combat many of the challenges facing South Africans who are working from home – such as a power backup to ensure no downtime during power outages. It also allows for a cost-effective solution, as these are once-off investments,” explains Arnold.
We support them at all times
Wherever our people are, we provide them with the same training, mentorship and support, security and wellness services to ensure skills sets are aligned and all needs are met. Our goal is to put the right people in the right place with the right support, in order to deliver the same excellent customer experiences our clients have come to expect from Merchants.
“Customer experience is a critically important competitive differentiator for companies operating in the modern business environment,” says Arnold. “By ensuring that our employees are enabled and engaged, we in turn guarantee the best possible experiences for our clients and their customers at all times, no matter where our agents are placed.”
Essentially, Ekhaya is a new way to enhance the organisation’s human interaction strategy. It solves technical challenges like power, home spaces, cyber security and connectivity, while reinforcing belonging and enhancing connectedness with the team and customers.
Operating in the ‘new normal’
“There has been much talk of the ‘new normal’, as the world of business shifts to keep pace with the changing world post-COVID. While many areas might still seem uncertain, WFH is a trend that is set to stay – and has become the ‘new normal’ for many people in South Africa and abroad. It can no longer be seen as a disaster recovery tactic, and Ekhaya provides a ‘better normal’ for any organisation looking to deploy a successful WFH solution in 2020 and beyond,” concludes Arnold.