As the world is dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and there is a small chunk of light at the end of the tunnel, I have been reflecting on the position we were in only 9 weeks ago. We were forced to make life-changing and quick decisions to completely change our work style to suit this new age. I have realised how Lokulus have managed to cope so well with the challenge thrown down to us by Mother Nature and want to share with you our story of how we did it.
Winding my thoughts back on Saturday 1st March, we were in a very different position.
We had just completed our move into our brand-new offices and were enjoying all the excitement that brings. We designed the office for collaboration, with informal and formal meeting space and top-of-the-range technology – we were all set to embark on the next step on the journey for Lokulus.
In the background, however, the talk of COVID-19 starting to get louder with cases starting to appear in Europe. Two weeks on, we were watching the announcement from Boris Johnson, informing us that those people who could work from home, should.
As the wellbeing of our employees is paramount to us, we evoked our ‘Business Continuity Plan’ that very evening. Like most business’s, this plan was aimed at short term interruption and we have now tested this further than we ever thought would be required. We couldn't have known how long this would last, and in hindsight, I don’t think I appreciated then, the disruption it would have on our everyday lives.
We were fortunate, as following the acquisition of the business last year, we introduced a flexible working arrangement for staff, encouraging working from home for a better work-life balance. As part of this, we had moved most of our infrastructure to the cloud and all staff (including developers) had been furnished with top-range laptops to be able to work remotely.
This did not mean, however, there were not challenges both technological and emotional from the prolonged absence from the office.
Here’s how we faced these challenges and learnt along the way.
These are unprecedented times, and no one had answers at the beginning (or even now), the key was to be clear when we communicated to our stakeholders on what we were doing and how we planned to proceed. Always caveating that this may change depending on guidance from government and always looking to improve business processes that were implemented in haste.
It was key to understand that communication is two-fold; out to stakeholders and in, listening to what is being communicated back to us. We introduced quick-and-easy surveys for staff and customers, to ensure we could easily measure our performance and adjust accordingly to their requirements.
The Right Technology
We pride ourselves in creating the best customer interactions for our clients. With this new 'working-at-home' culture, we had to swiftly integrate more services for ourselves and each other to manage team communication. These included shifting telephony systems to softphones so there was no interruption to support services for our clients, as they are facing their own challenges without us adding complications.
Collaborating both internally, and externally with clients who still have implementation deadlines was essential, so project teams quickly adapted from face-to-face workshops to Microsoft Teams and Zoom. We even managed to go through our ISO27001 accreditation whilst in Lockdown.
Continuity Is Key
Our software operates from web browsers and due to its extensive quality assurance and audit capabilities has allowed our clients to adapt to the changing position with contact centre staff working from home. With full confidence that they are maintaining their customer service levels.
For us and our clients, we recognise that customer service is more important now than it has ever been. Those who will exit this crises in a stronger position than they entered it, will do so by ensuring their customers are looked after better than ever. This will provide loyalty and retention to help drive businesses forward.
Protecting Businesses For The Future
At Lokulus, we recognise that we can do more to help businesses navigate these challenging times, so the teams are moving fast to release new features and products to help meet the rising demands for customer service. With the right technological solutions, we can help businesses, like ourselves, come out of the situation to “normality” in a position to allow more choices on how we all operate both in the office and remotely.
The Positives From This Situation
With these challenging times, I want to finish up on my top 5 positives things to come out of the situation we are all facing:
- The situation makes me even more grateful for the fantastic team we have at Lokulus. Everyone adapted to the change within the space of 24hrs; different ways of working, facing childcare challenages and beyond, all whilst not missing a beat for both our clients and the internal initiatives.
- Our Business Continuity Plan works and has been tested to the limits.
- We have accelerated a change on ways of working, with people realising that they can work from home or in an office. (Though I for one, am missing the interactions and energy of an office environment!)
- It is proof that our technology can assist our clients stand-out from the crowd in customer service.
- I’ve have been able to have breakfast, lunch and dinner with my family everyday!!