- Case study
Improving customer care during a global crisis
How a global technology provider pivoted to a remote workforce in 24 hours to keep employees safe and customers happy
A global leader in providing webhosting and other digital solutions for small and medium-size businesses
To protect its customer-care team and customers around the world with:
As the impact of COVID-19 became a reality, a leading digital company that helps entrepreneurs succeed online had one primary concern: how best to protect the health of its hundreds of colleagues in customer care while maintaining excellent customer service. The company turned to its partners for support. For Genpact, that meant looking after part of its large customer-care team and operations in India.
Since our partnership began in 2012, we have worked closely with the company, keeping in step with its forward-thinking approach. Today, the customer-care team – a sales and support center for the firm – enhances the company's culture of innovation. So, when we suggested to the leadership team on March 6, 2020 that we should prepare for the impact of COVID-19 on customer-care operations, they were not surprised we were ahead of the game.
Even though only a handful of governments had established lockdown measures at the time, we presented multiple detailed working scenarios to bring greater resilience to these critical operations.
It quickly became clear that everyone would have to work remotely, and soon. And as customers' priorities had changed, the team also looked at how sales professionals could reskill to support customer care, creating a more agile workforce.
Though the plan called for massive operational change, we realized that a 'bring your own device' (BYOD) approach was the only way to get people working from home at scale. This innovative move came with challenges.
It involved ensuring all laptops, desktop computers, and BYOD devices complied with stringent security and performance requirements to allow the customer-care team to work virtually and still serve its customers well. But it had to take place quickly and over a weekend ahead of the government's stay-at-home restrictions.
"We'd never had people working from home before," says the company's global customer-care and services leader. “It was completely new. Our technology, leadership, and processes weren't designed around remote working. All of a sudden, we had to make the move in a week."
BYOD was a big ask. "It was our No. 1 challenge," its customer-care leader says. "How could we make sure devices were secure, that they would perform, and that agents would have the headsets and software in place to serve customers from home? But our IT teams and systems operators said if we could bring in the devices, they could make it work."
On March 18, when we'd secured internal sign-offs, identified the assets, and tested the IT infrastructure, we quickly began shipping out desktops, laptops, and uninterrupted-power supplies to agents so they could serve customers and protect their data.
By March 21, we'd created a business continuity war room with cross-functional teams and managers. We'd already performed failure analyses to mitigate the likelihood of systems or device crashes. Additionally, we instituted round-the-clock IT support to resolve any issues. We sent equipment to hundreds of agents in the city overnight and into the weekend – a Herculean effort by operations leaders, their support teams, and the customer-care leadership.
What a difference a day makes
On March 22, the new work-from-home operation went live, and within 24 hours a remarkable 80% of the customer-care messaging team – the group that interacts with customers via messaging apps – was up and running. These agents kept 100% of the customer-care service going while the rest of the team quickly got up to speed. That's a testament to everyone's commitment. And within three days, it was business as usual with a distributed workforce in new offices.
Though we knew that the outbound sales team would be making fewer outbound calls at this time, we also knew that the messaging team would see volumes increase. So, we retrained the outbound team to help, and it was ready to go by March 23, ahead of the government restrictions kicking in on March 25.
The teamwork the customer-care leader witnessed amazed him: "I've never seen anything like the humanity, ingenuity, and creativity the team drew on to design the solution."
And though business continuity was his main area of focus, he had concerns about how the warm and dynamic office culture would handle the shift. We introduced collaboration tools to support and enrich the team's interactions. We also ran town halls, employee-connection meetings, and rest-and-relaxation sessions to sustain agents' well-being.
The company's speed to act helped relieve customers' anxieties during a difficult time. Working with Genpact, it demonstrated its customer commitment by transitioning the care team within 24 hours to maintain 100% capacity despite increased demand and staff working from home. Not only was this team the first in the company to move to remote work, but it also successfully increased its messaging-channel Net Promoter Score during the toughest of times.
These new working arrangements created the customer-care environment that clients needed and improved productivity with the team handling 30% more volume. Employees were so pleased with the transition that they made a video to thank the company for enabling them to continue working safely.
Our work has opened the door to imaginative arrangements that will have an impact on the company and employees well into the future. We not only enabled home offices, but we also enabled employees to be productive and thrive there. Less commuting time means more family time. Split shifts are now possible. And the company anticipates that with certain kinds of jobs in care, working from home will become a viable long-term option and a very real solution that will give it advantages that it has never had before.
And there's another important takeaway. Together, Genpact and the company have strengthened workforce agility and the company's resilience, demonstrating its ability to adapt and rise no matter the circumstances.