Organisations considering the ‘new normal’ working environment shouldn’t miss the opportunity to use lock-down as a catalyst for lasting positive change to both employee and customer experience
The initial weeks of lock-down in March saw a rapid change in the working day for millions of people. Over the weeks and months since, we have all adjusted to new ways of working. Whilst some aspects of our new working day still take some getting used to (such as the occasional bouts of Zoom-fatigue), it has been a transformative experience for many.
Working from home during this time has enabled some to strike a new work-life balance and have more control of routine in their family life. As such, many may not be keen to surrender their newfound flexibility. It is therefore no surprise that organisations are expecting to see a significant increase in flexible working requests going forward.
We’re working with some organisations who are responding not by ‘trying to accommodate’ these requests, but rather are seeing the potential of flexible working and other adjustments to make positive changes to both employee experience and their customer offer.
The first step is understanding demand from customers. Due to changes in the way we all live, work and access services that have been brought about by the current crisis, it is likely that many existing customer profiles will have been thrown out of the window. This is true in the housing sector too. It will be critical for all organisations to go back to square one and understand the demand that customers now have for services. E.g. for extended (or 24/7) contact hours, evening and weekend repair appointments, greater use of technology, less ‘human’ contact, methods of communication, or simply understanding new peaks in demand for key services.
The adequacy of technology and existing processes will also need to be reviewed. If the customer offer changes, the supporting infrastructure to deliver that offer will need to evolve with it.
Alongside this, HR functions need to be enabled to work closely with operational colleagues to understand, plan and implement the resourcing required – matching requested working patterns to changes in the customer offer. Post-lockdown this might mean colleagues who are supporting shielding relatives can log on in the evening to respond to customers who have had to return to workplaces; and parents working either side of the school-run, serving customers who are also beholden to school hours.
The prize for getting this right is a workforce and organisation infrastructure which can work in step with the rhythm of the day of the customers they serve.
Whilst some organisations have already advanced along the flexible working road to a sophisticated system and person-centred employee experience, many have a way to go. During this time, all organisations should consider newly emerging employee expectations and what opportunities lie therein for a better customer offer.