Hybrid working looks set to be a long-term legacy of the coronavirus pandemic. Since ‘freedom day’ on 19 July signalled further easing of lockdown restrictions, many businesses have been rolling out their hybrid working plans. Using the right tech solutions to connect remote workers with their office-based colleagues will be crucial. But have you considered the impact on your customers?
Hybrid working, with employees splitting their time between home working and being in the office, is not a new concept, and many businesses, particularly in the technology sector, have operated successfully in this way long before the pandemic. However, we are now in a situation where many more businesses are considering hybrid working.
A report from the Office for National Statistics in June this year found that 85% of adults currently homeworking wanted a hybrid approach of both home and office working in the future. And McKinsey found in its latest survey that over a quarter of those surveyed report they would consider switching employers if it meant working on-site full-time.
Not surprisingly, research from TalkTalk, reported by Computer Weekly, found that a fast, reliable home internet connection is an issue, with 92% of employers and 94% of employees saying it is vital for hybrid working. There is also a broad consensus that employers should subsidise their employees’ home broadband, with 75% of the business leaders who were surveyed saying they should contribute financially.
For organisations moving to hybrid working, their focus to date is likely to have been on the logistics and technology required to allow employees to work seamlessly from the office and remote locations.
Don’t lose sight of your customers
Clearly getting hybrid working right for employees is going to be crucial. However, it is vital not to lose sight of your customers – and technology can play a part here too.
As well as speaking to your employees about your hybrid working plans and acting on their feedback, it is a good idea to speak to your customers too.
Do your customers want opportunities to meet face to face? Do they want to be able to access more services digitally? Are they able to get hold of the people they need to quickly on the phone? Are they happy with your current operating hours, or would they like you to be available for longer? Would they like to contact you through a website chat function?
Having these conversations with customers will give you a useful insight, so that you can use hybrid working to enhance your client experience and make choices about the technology you need to put in place to support this.
The danger of pushing ahead with hybrid working without consulting your customers is that your customer service goes down, and you lose customers and revenue as a result.
Listening to clients
I’ve worked with a number of large South West businesses on a client listening exercises focussed on views about hybrid working and the findings were very interesting. We discovered that on average:
- 60% of clients were now really comfortable meeting on Teams/Zoom/Skype. Not only did they feel they were comfortable using the technology, but they also felt it helped them use their time more efficiently.
- Interestingly only 45% said that they were happy to go back to face-to-face meetings on average, but 55% said they would want the option to meet face to face.
- When we also asked our clients’ customers when they wanted to be able to access professional service firms as an example, they now wanted more flexibility in contacting their “trusted advisors” with 60% saying they expected to be able to talk to someone between 8am and 7pm.
How to factor customers into your hybrid working model
My advice to ensure that hybrid working works for your customers is:
- Ask for your customers’ views. This could range from a customer survey to informal conversations with clients.
- Act on your customers’ views. If your customers would find it useful to be able to speak to someone directly in the evening, factor that into your hybrid working plans. You may find that some of your staff would like to work different hours to give them a better work life balance.
- Ask your people how they want to access products and services as we travel out of the restrictions; that will give you a good steer too.
If you factor your customers into your hybrid working plans from an early stage, you have the potential to introduce lasting change that will improve your client service experience and bring long-term benefits to your business for many years to come.
If you’d like help to ensure that your hybrid working arrangements are enhancing your customer experience, please get in touch. Call Rhian on 07810 516887 or email Rhian.firstname.lastname@example.org