Mary Lou Joseph
8 minute read
By Mary Lou Joseph
Posted in Customer Engagement
Many of us were glad to ring in 2021 and say goodbye to 2020. However, not all the events in 2020 were bad.
The pandemic forced many companies to step out of their comfort zones, try new things, and act more quickly than ever before. The speed with which organizations and employees reacted to the disruption and changing market and consumer demands was impressive and surprised many.
Building on this momentum, many workforce trends will carry over into 2021—this blog focuses on five in particular. Companies who ride this wave will likely see greater success, improved customer engagement and loyalty, and increased employee retention. These trends include:
The Covid-19 pandemic has fast-tracked many organizations’ digital transformation initiatives. In fact, Stanford research found that 77 percent of CEOs reported that the COVID-19 crisis accelerated their digital transformation plans.1 And according to a 2020 McKinsey Global Survey of executives, their companies have accelerated the digitization of their customer and supply-chain interactions and of their internal operations by three to four years.2
Examples of this digital acceleration exist in many industries:
Underscoring the acceleration of digital transformation is the move to the cloud. IT departments are realizing that to stay agile and resilient in times of disruption, they need to have the flexibility of cloud-based platforms. IDC event goes as far as to call 2021 "the year of multicloud."3
Millennials and Gen Z are making up a growing portion of the workforce:
These workers expect greater flexibility for work/life balance, and more modern, app-like tools to perform their work.
A key driver of employee satisfaction among millennials is flexibility and control over their schedules. Flexibility can apply to location as well as timing. The dramatic shift to work from home that happened at the beginning of the pandemic showed companies that many more roles can be performed remotely than originally thought. In fact, 70% of companies will continue some level of work from home post-pandemic.6
A recent study found that 77% of millennials said that flexible work hours would make them more productive.7 And it’s not just working a different shift, it’s allowing more creative construction of shifts to accommodate changes at home, such as remote learning, elder care, or working around an advanced degree schedule.
For example, a working parent may now want to work from 5:30-7:30, 11:30-1:30, 3:30-5:30, and 8:30-9:30 to accommodate at-home learning and dinner and bed-time with the family. They’ll also want the flexibility to quickly change their schedule based on less predictable events, such as an illness or doctor’s appointment.
While many employees were transitioned to work from home, experts expect a large portion will return to the office once it is safe (and the kiddos are back in school), at least part time. Working remote 100% of the time isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Many employees miss the structure and socialization of working in an office—and find working from home has too many distractions. They will be happy to once again return to the office.
Another expectation of millennials and Gen Z are app-like tools in the workplace. Having grown up with smart phones and online gaming, these workers want the same convenience and real-time access to data and collaboration in the workplace. Fortunately, the move to the cloud has led many vendors to update their UIs to be a more modern, intuitive interface.
In addition, many organizations are investing in tools that can provide real-time, contextual guidance and resources based on what’s happening on the employee desktop. For example, modern knowledge management solutions can present the best resource for the task at hand. And taking cues from conversations and desktop activities, real-time assistance tools can recognize the process or task being performed, and offer real-time guidance as to next steps or reminders of associated compliance rules.
One of the greatest impediments to agility is silos. Functional, operational and data silos prevent organizations from responding the market changes quickly. In fact, a Top 3 challenge of leading CXOs is organizational or geographical silos.8
Silos can exist in even the smallest organization, but it is a huge challenge in large global organizations. Managers in one department or site may use one system or a homegrown spreadsheet, while a counterpart in another department or country is using a different one to accomplish the same thing. These organizations cannot easily share data or resources.
How many times have you been aware of one department drowning in work, while another one sits idle?
Enterprise-scale solutions that can capture and aggregate data from multiple sources help break down the data barrier. Consistent training for managers on how to use the data can create a common way of working across operational silos.
A common framework for managing the work, people and processes can enable organizations to cross-train resources so you can share these skilled resources across departments to meet peaks in volume and demand. For example, during the holidays retailers often need to hire seasonal staff. An organization that has enterprise visibility into resource availability and skills may be able to handle the increase in volumes by leveraging existing resources in other departments.
The stress of the pandemic seems to have also impacted consumers’ patience. Expectations are higher than ever for real-time service and answers, across all industries, as demonstrated by a few recent studies:
That’s a lot to handle.
Organizations are challenged with striking the right balance between automation and human touch, so that you can scale the business with digital and self-service solutions—while still delivering informed, real people to support customers when required.
To keep up with the times, the self-service, assisted service, and human channels need to leverage AI and advanced analytics to identify the intent of the call and deliver the right answers the first time.
Desktop and speech analytics tools can help identify the type of inquiry and present the agent or self-service channel with the best knowledge resource for the topic. These solutions can also provide real-time assistance to walk an agent through a complex process, helping ensure speed, accuracy and customer satisfaction.
Another trend from 2020 that will continue to accelerate in 2021 is the adoption of automation tools such as Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). And according to the World Economic Forum report, The Future of Jobs 2020, 50 percent of executives surveyed plan on accelerating the automation of jobs in their companies.11
The digital or robotic workforce will continue to grow—and with it, the need to adapt management processes to measure and manage this new workforce. As RPA robots take on more tasks and work, how will this impact the capacity of your employees? Can you measure it?
The questions don’t stop there. Can you incorporate your digital workforce into your capacity plans? How will you measure their performance—not only if the automations are working, but if they are being used to their full capacity?
And operationally, who’s responsible for RPA robot maintenance? When a bot breaks, who will re-write the scripts to fix it?
In order to scale and take full advantage of RPA, organizations will need to have plans on how to manage their new digital workers alongside their employees.
While a global pandemic is bad news, some good has come out of it. Organizations are realizing what is possible and making the “future of work” a reality now. Verint’s Customer Engagement and Workforce Engagement Solutions enable organizations take advantage of these workforce trends.
Learn more about how Verint can help you accelerate digital transformation, the move to the cloud, and respond to every changing need of both your customers and employees. Visit our website.
1 Stanford research provides a snapshot of a new working-from-home economy, news.stanford.edu, by May Wong, June 29, 2020
2 How COVID-19 has pushed companies over the technology tipping point—and transformed business forever, McKinsey, October 5, 2020
3 How COVID-19 accelerated the move to hybrid cloud, hpe.com, May 15, 2020
4 The (Millennial) Workplace of the Future Is Almost Here, by Peter Economy, Inc.com, January 15, 2019
5 Gen-Z Will Make Up 24 Percent of the Global Workforce in 2020. Here's What Employers Need to Know, by Marla Tabaka, Inc.com, December 14, 2019
6 Proper Prior Planning for the Post-Pandemic Contact Center, Saddletree Research, 2020
7 The Death of the 9-to-5: Why We'll All Work Flex Schedules Soon, themuse.com, by Alexandra Levit
8 Lack of Vision, Organizational Silos Challenge Strategy for Industry 4.0, Wall Street Journal, Deloitte Insights, Jan. 27, 2019
9 Customer Expectations Hit All-Time Highs, salesforce.com
10 The State of the Connected Customer, Salesforce.com, 2019
11The Future of Jobs 2020, World Economic Forum, October 2020
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