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Customer Service & Support Leaders Should Focus on 3 Impact Areas to Mitigate Coronavirus-Related Disruptions: Gartner

The sudden disruption faced all over the world due to spreading of COVID-19 globally, Gartner has recently identified three impact areas for customer service and support leaders to focus on to manage risk and ensure continuity of operations.

Due to remote working and unpredictable atmosphere the staff morale may be down, customer demand are slowing and operational continuity should be maintained in times of such disruption arising out of the global pandemic.

“Though service leaders are familiar with business continuity and disaster recovery planning, pandemic planning is very different because of its wider scope and the uncertainty of impact,” said John Quaglietta, senior director analyst in Gartner’s Customer Service and Support Practice.

“The global and dynamic impact of COVID-19 requires planning for longer recovery times and many scenarios because pandemic events are so fluid, and things can change quickly without notice.”

The three impact areas that Gartner recommends that service leaders focus on include:

Impact Area 1: Operational Continuity

Continuity of operations in service and support organizations is largely delivered by agents, operations staff and management. However, this is being threatened by increased absence due to quarantines.

“Since service and support are labor-intensive, having large numbers of staff miss work due to pandemic-related issues can severely impact delivery,” said Deborah Alvord, senior director analyst in Gartner’s Customer Service and Support Practice. “Delivery impairment has both short- and long-range effects on organizations’ ability to deliver service to customers and meet related service goals according to customer expectations.”

Service leaders should maintain continuity of business operations by completing a workforce planning assessment and determine outsourcing and work-from-home options. Additionally, they should implement and promote digital and self-service channels.

Impact Area 2: Staff Morale

Unpredictable work conditions create additional pressure and demand on employees, fueling anxiety, morale and retention issues. Gartner recommends service leaders establish programs that promote employee well-being, focus on employee engagement, and include employees in business continuity and disaster recovery planning.

Impact Area 3: Customer Demand

Communicating with customers during the life cycle of the pandemic is critical. It is important for service leaders to consistently provide updates on developing events and how those events affect the organization’s ability to provide service and support. If customers should expect delays, let them know in advance to reduce unneeded contact volume. Where possible, service leaders should use a multichannel strategy to communicate updates, process or policy changes, and changes in service caused by COVID-19. This can be done via inbound and outbound channels such as SMS, Interactive Voice Response (IVR) and phone.

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