5 minute read
By Iain Daws
Posted in Customer Engagement
COVID-19 has brought unexpected and unprecedented changes to the world—today there are hardly any areas of life that are not affected by the pandemic. To control the spread of the disease, authorities worldwide are taking far-reaching action. Schools, office buildings, tourist attractions and restaurants are either closed down or their operation is limited. In some countries wearing face masks and gloves in public has been made mandatory.
Although the provisions vary from country to country, most governments are urging vulnerable citizens, including the elderly, children, the homeless and citizens suffering from other underlying health conditions, not to leave their homes and avoid physical contact with others.
This may not be easy to achieve and could give rise to other concerns. How do they get food and medicine? Help may be available, but how do they find out how and where to ask for it? And how will it be delivered?
This puts an extra weight on organizations that are tasked with safeguarding vulnerable citizens and looking after the welfare of the rest of the population, too. And, if you want to volunteer your services to help your community’s response, you will likewise need to be able to find out how and where to offer your time and receive assignments.
Therefore, the organizations tasked with managing the consequences of the pandemic at a local level must tackle a variety of challenges, including:
Necessity is the mother of invention
In preparation for a recent webinar on this subject—part of Verint’s “Adapt and Respond” series—I looked around for real-life examples that would provide some inspiration for managing these challenges, as much as possible, with the tools and resources already at our disposal.
My local supermarket’s approach served as a great example: they created an external queuing system by marking out lanes using warehouse cages. The cages are about two meters tall, the perfect size for supporting social distancing when laid down on the ground at two-meter intervals.
A local supermarket re-purposed existing equipment to form a new queuing system.
With no time to spend on detailed selection, design and delivery, Verint is likewise working with its customers in government and public services to find ways of using existing technology solutions in original ways and support the new and amended services they must now deliver.
Existing tools, new approaches
In the UK, one and a half million citizens have been identified as vulnerable, meaning they are at high risk of severe illness. While the rest of the population have their movements restricted to limited exercise and essential shopping, vulnerable citizens are advised to stay at home and minimize interactions with others for at least 12 weeks.
In support of shielded citizens, a number of Verint customers have maximized the flexibility of their Verint solutions. Case management, knowledge management and process design have helped to ensure that they are contacted and their needs recorded and catered to for such services as grocery shopping and undisrupted access to essential medical services.
Organizations such as the Samaritans, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, child protection, and domestic abuse support services are also experiencing a significant rise in the number of calls they take, as a direct result of the extended lockdown conditions. So the same solutions are also being used by such non-profit organizations to allow people to reach out for support and help them deal with increased call volumes.
The same technologies can also be used to automate the recruitment, registration, screening and vetting process of volunteers, and then—based on their availability, capabilities and location—assign them to help people in need. For the non-profit advice line, mentioned earlier, and a number of UK local government bodies, this will allow them to scale their operation to cope with demand.
In parallel, Verint’s online Community solution can provide support to those volunteers, giving them access to information and discussion forums for much-needed emotional and educational support.
In fact, Verint has already created a cloud-based “out-of-the-box” solution called COVID-19 Shield that is specifically designed to help register and manage the needs of vulnerable citizens—and then recruiting, processing and assigning volunteers who can help them. This tool is available immediately and can be set up in a matter of days. If you would like more information about the COVID-19 Shield solution, watch this demonstration webinar or contact us to arrange a call.
Responding to the information tsunami
While government organizations are being inundated with calls about COVID-19 and related protective measures, the capacity of service centers is hampered by staff having to work remotely. They’re now juggling domestic concerns, such as childcare, while having to familiarize themselves with rapidly changing new processes and protocols.
Case management, knowledge management and process design solutions can also help handle increased citizen demand for information, advice, services and reassurance.
Many government organizations around the world use Verint's Knowledge Management, which allows them to deflect a proportion of calls to their web self-service portal, and enables their staff to answer questions more efficiently. The solution can be updated rapidly and new information made available immediately to the public and/or the staff.
Verint's Case Management also enables citizens to transact online—rather than having to speak to an agent—and again is helping government organizations deal with demand. Together with integrated process management, the solution can simplify launching new or modified services or "apps"—making them available quickly for citizens to use online and for employees to use working from home.
Online communities (or forums) are another established and proven way of disseminating information to a wide audience. New information can “go viral” and rapidly reach people through sharing of links. These communities can help and support citizens—and are also invaluable as an internal resource for employees. An internal community offers a collaboration environment to help employees stay and feel connected to their normal work-based support network, solve problems, feel less isolated or just give them a laugh.
To learn more about how these solutions work, read our complimentary eBook, Safeguarding Citizens in Times of Crisis.
I’d like to finish by recording a vote of “thanks”—from all of us here at Verint—to all those working in government, healthcare, social care and support agencies, non-profit organizations and volunteers for all that you are doing to keep our communities and families safe.
We are only too aware of how tough it is for you at the moment. Verint stands ready to work with you to help overcome the many challenges that surely still lie ahead of us. To discover more about our public sector offering, visit our website and please do not hesitate to reach out to us if you think we can help you in any way.
Stay well, stay safe. We WILL get through this.
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