As a famous saying goes – Real Change Takes Place in Deep Crisis. With the COVID19 crisis, face-to-face interactions have waned due to social distancing and shelter-in-place. That has triggered an inflection point in the drive towards better CX and digital transformation. The connected, digital CRM/CX is helping enterprises, employees, and consumers remain engaged and do business with a highly engaged customer experience, even as the virus continues to spread and stall life at all levels.
What’s Happened to CX?
In addition to businesses, the consumer behavior, their buying habits, interactions and demands have transformed radically. The services which can be used without leaving our homes/without encountering anything are growing exponentially every day during the crisis.
Most employers mandated their employees to work from home. Universities & schools have shifted fully to online teaching. Restaurants transitioned to online ordering, pickup and/or delivery. Manufacturers shut down their plants and much more. The world is experiencing the most rapid transformation in the history of humanity.
Here are some intelligent scenarios that none of us imagined in the pre-COVID19 era.
• Car dealerships/service stations are delivering vehicle service with a no contact experience from repair order detail, insights into vehicle needs, electronic notes for multi-point inspections, electronic transactions and signatures.
• Clinics & hospitals are offering virtual appointments using video calls for consultations.
• Pharmacies are taking precautionary measures by delivering medicines to homes free of charge.
• Customer support centers and agents are all working from home.
• Public Sector Businesses such as financial & health sectors — that demanded people to be at work — have been forced to get people to work from home.
• Conservative non-digital shoppers have been forced to shop online.
• Airline companies receiving significant refund requests have created a way to automate flight refunds quickly and without the need for human interaction.
Forward-looking businesses are seeing the Coronavirus closures as an opportunity to improve customer service which will just get better after the crisis.
Major Digital Transformations
Here are some of the top digital transformations due to COVID19 thus far.
Technology companies like Amazon and Microsoft are undergoing a tectonic shift in their business. They are rolling out business tools that support companies or organizations when going remote.
The Coronavirus outbreak has resulted in a frenzy of buying that’s shaken up logistics at Amazon and other rivals like Walmart, where they are speeding up and optimizing their delivery process. Amazon’s internet video on-demand service, Prime Video and cloud services like AWS and Pay-as-you-go have skyrocketed and Amazon has become more of a utility than a service.
There has been a colossal 775% increase in usage of Microsoft’s cloud services with more than 44 Million daily users in Teams. Microsoft has also offered a free six-month trial of its top tier of Microsoft Teams to enable schools, hospitals, and businesses in China to keep operating during the Coronavirus lock down.
Many world-wide conferences are going virtual in response to the COVID19 outbreak. Conferences are a trillion-dollar industry and have been critical to exchange ideas and build professional networks. Some companies are trying to bridge the gap between in-person events and virtual ones with platforms by combining video, networking, and more to capture the benefits of networking.
The virus outbreak has pushed conference organizers and business owners to think outside the box to provide compelling alternative options in the interest of public safety. This push could also result in future innovations on how people meet and interact virtually.
Coronavirus has forced the $600 Billion Higher Education Industry online. There is an explosion in online learning demand as millions of children start to adapt to home schooling during the pandemic.
Teachers are video conferencing every day to teach, kids are participating using a virtual post-it note system that lets them share ideas and short videos. Students do individual work, group work, and confer with teachers when needed. Even with physical education students are shooting and uploading videos. Teachers are no longer using emails but Microsoft Teams.
Additionally, tech companies like Zoom, Google and Loom Pro are making their video-conferencing apps or G suites for education customers free which is helping this industry transform. This will reshape schools, the very idea of education, and what learning looks like in the 21st century.
Public health officials are pushing healthcare systems to expand telemedicine through smartphones and other tools in the wake of COVID19 outbreak. The usual restriction on video services due to concerns over patient privacy in the US has been relaxed and will continue to grow in the future.
But as tech connects people in their homes, its limitations for learning are on display for all the world to see. The crisis has cast a bright light on the deep inequalities not just on those who have the devices and bandwidth which is critically important, but also those who have the skills to self-direct their learning.
As companies adapt to their remote work structures, the pandemic is providing a lasting impact on how work is conducted. COVID19 has led to a worldwide boom in remote working as organizations encourage or require employees to stay home as some countries go on lock down.
Several vendors are making chat, videoconferencing and other collaboration services available for free as demand for remote working booms.
Here are some examples –
• Cisco has expanded the list of Webex features and is offering free in all countries with unlimited usage and those who are not already using the service can sign up to a free 90-day license.
• Microsoft is making the premium version of its Teams collaboration application available for free for the next 6 months. It also lifted restrictions on user limits in the free Teams version, as well as letting users schedule video calls with co-workers.
• LogMeIn, GForge and Lowa are making their products available for free for all healthcare providers, educational institutions, municipalities and nonprofit organizations.
• Some more are here.
All this is making people and companies that were resistant to Working-From-Home see that it is possible to work remotely. They have started to grow accustomed to the benefits of remote work including autonomy, no commute, and less distractions than open offices.
What’s Missing Now?
With more people working from home the world is rapidly evolving into a digital ecosystem, but the security of the systems and connections are being overlooked. Cyber attacks are increasing or their probability to increase is much higher now due to the sudden vulnerability in the systems.
During the past few weeks, there has been a 4% increase in suspicious characteristics around video conferencing tools. New phishing websites have been spotted for every leading communication application, including the official classroom.google.com website, which was impersonated.
As people are worried about their health, the security of these systems shouldn’t be ignored. We can expect a larger set of cyber security issues in the post COVID19 era.
My Final Thoughts.
During the COVID19 crisis — Businesses are impacted by major changes in terms of customer experience, business models and newer product categories. Incorporating innovations has become a new norm today. Companies that were slow to get on the digital transformation bandwagon are being forced to get there due to this unprecedented crisis. This huge shift has happened as consumers and governments have started to demand better CX during these trying times. Every vertical in the CX industry is going through a transformational change — be it customer contact centers, sales or service.
Today, we’re in a forced adaptability mode; however, we expect the CRM/CX industry to skyrocket when the crisis ends. Once some level of calm sets in after the pandemic, nearly all organizations will need to figure out their newer digital transformation strategies going forward.
Post COVID19, companies that figure out how to adapt, focus on developing deeper customer experience solutions and digital transformation faster & quicker will be the ones to succeed. Companies will be forced to incorporate and blend new technologies based on AI, ML, NLP on top of their CRM/CX platforms. Those are the ones that will stand out from the regular crowd to become successful leaders.
Now that COVID19 has let the Digital Transformation genie out of the bottle, there’s no way to put it back in. The world can only wait and watch for the CX magic to unfold after the crisis.
This post was written by Balaji Ramachandran, Founder & CEO of SoftClouds. His mission is helping clients understand CRM, Cloud, IoT and AI, to stay ahead and ready for future trends. Bala has over 20 years of entrepreneurial and innovation leadership that has helped shape today’s CX software industry.
SoftClouds is a recognized leader in CRM/CX transformation with experience in numerous Service Cloud Implementations with pre-configured best practice business processes for multiple verticals/domains.