The Experience Economy was in full effect, with 76% of consumers agreeing they would rather spend money on experiences over material items. But almost overnight, the pandemic upended this. Consumers now seek out brands who use technology to make their experiences with products and services seamless and contactless, while still retaining a human touch. We are entering the virtual experience economy.
On 19 November 2020, Nearshore Americas hosted a live webinar with Everise and Bright Pattern about how brands can evolve and capitalize on this new era - the virtual experience economy.
Everise EVP of Operations, Jeremy Jepperson, along with Bright Pattern’s SVP of Marketing, Ted Hunting, and Founder of Next Coast Media & Nearshore Americas, Kirk Laughlin, shared their first-hand experience and best practises that many top brands are utilizing to capitalize and evolve into the new experience age.
Key Takeaways from the webinar:
1. Reimagine business operations over 18-24 months
Work-at-home was not a new concept. Before the pandemic broke out, Everise had a work from home platform operating for our partners, with 16% of our US workforce already working from home. But like many businesses, we still needed to reimagine how we operated to scale the program globally.
But like many businesses, Everise needed to scale this platform at a rapid pace. Jeremy shared an anecdote on how adopting a long term mindset helped them rethink how Everise could continue doing business and supporting our partners under the new normal.
"This is not a short term event...the planning has to be around how we really drive the business for the next 18-24 months. Now we have this completely virtual workforce, how do we train differently, how do we engage differently," asked Jepperson.
2. Reinvent yourself with existing technologies
COVID caused a surge in demand for businesses to adopt AI into their systems. This resulted in innovative means for doing businesses in the new normal. During the webinar, Ted shared how previously new technologies, such as the cloud, was once viewed as a risk. But over time, the cloud become a vital part of most businesses in the modern era.
"We've hit a tipping point, a few years ago people said that cloud was more risky to your business... and now it's the safest thing," Ted said.
Ted shared a prime example of digital innovation during the outbreak of the pandemic. An innovative luxury retailer in Europe went 100% remote in terms of operations and sales by utilizing new means of featuring their products. They used sales associates in their stores to provide videos of their high-end products that interested buyers wanted to view, engaging them through WhatsApp. This is a prime example of evolving a traditionally physical retail experience into a virtual one.
"Everything with COVID, we are finding new approaches, new digital approaches and new remote approaches as a result," Ted continued.
3. Transform today, not tomorrow
Change can be hard. Although AI, Automation and Work-from-Home were well discussed concepts before the pandemic, they still had their fair of skeptics.
The pandemic has highlighted why businesses need to adopt new technologies, like AI, sooner than later by sharing a client case study.
Two weeks into the COVID situation, one of Everise's partners experienced a 180% volume increase in calls and chat. By providing natural language-based IVRs and AI chat solutions, Everise was able to contain and automate a large portion of the incoming volume, increasing agent efficiency in the process.
"AI was a term people were scared about, work-from-home was something people were scared about. What COVID has done is knock the wall down very quickly to where there is so much demand in certain businesses that out of necessity, people are asking, 'what can we do differently.'"
4. Businesses can leverage BPO's remote operations expertise
Businesses today are looking for effective methods to recruit, train, and provide services remotely. Jeremy rightly points out that BPO's will shift into a consultative role, helping enterprise adapt and adopt their own remote operations.
Ted added to this idea by sharing how companies should assess their Remote Readiness to identify what areas have the greatest need. Knowing which point a company is at in terms of their remote service evolution will enable their partners to best advise a way forward.
5. Keep things remote
Jeremy highlighted the importance of continuing to maintain remote operations. Just one infection requires a center to be closed for at least seventy-two hours, and that people in a room can still increase the likelihood of transmitting the virus.
"I see a lot more progressive thinking right now. As a business, we don't want to have people in our buildings 100% of the time. Maybe it's a hybrid model where they're in the building one or two days a week; maybe we don't even want to have buildings anymore. That kind of thinking is now on the top of the minds of the strategy conversations I'm having."
Everise ensured this by applying remote technology wherever possible, most notably by interviewing and training their employees remotely through virtual means. Jeremy also discussed how we are piloting a hybrid model to understand how this could work at scale over the long term.
6. Keep testing new training methodologies
As social distancing measures became necessary to lessen the risk of contracting the virus, new approaches towards training needed to take place. Jeremy shared how he and his team tested new means of training to simulate a remote work environment for Everise's on site training rooms.
"I don't think anybody's not had problems with remote training, especially as we've grown class sizes. It's an area that I think the technology has allowed us to explore, that traditionally, we wouldn't have been able to do. Even when we scaled down training rooms, people were still nervous. We overcame some of those obstacles by using Adobe Connect to train our people and help them interact as if they were doing it remotely. It even allowed us to test other things in terms of larger classes. We kept thinking how we would engage with our agents differently.
Although Everise's remote training methods are still in its early stages, Jeremy believes that it will eventually pave the way for better methods of training that wouldn't have been thought of in a purely brick and mortar setting.
Finally, Kirk asked Ted and Jeremy why it's so important that companies become more agile in their thinking?
Ted Hunting: "You have to be ready for remote CX. You have to be nimble in working with innovative BPO's and you've got to have the technology available. Having the ability to handle remote situations with messaging, with omnichannel quality management, and with AI are really key. I still remember Eugene Hall, CEO of Gartner, a couple of years ago talking about his opening keynote. He said that if you think you're not a digital business, you'll be out of business, and the people that will be winning in the next five years will be the disruptors and the ones who make the most out of the business moment."
Jeremy Jepperson: "If you haven't thought about virtualizing every aspect of your business, you need to start now from recruiting, to training, to HR and engagement. If that is not on your strategy plan, it needs to be. If you're not thinking that far ahead, you can partner with someone or with other forward-thinking companies that are in that space. You really do have to look at the right shoring, infrastructure, and other strategies."
If you're interested to learn more about how Everise and Bright Pattern can evolve your business, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org