(Kara Hoisington, Mark Baizen, and Daniel Hong contributed to this blog.)

Forrester just finished a customer service exec roundtable discussion on how companies and customer service organizations are weathering the COVID-19 storm. The insight-rich conversation presented an open forum for these 22 execs to share their victories and challenges during this time. Below is a roundup of key takeaways from the roundtable discussion:

  • “People” continue to be key. One of the biggest shifts has been transitioning customer service operations to accommodate work-from-home (WFH). Almost half the participants indicated “People: the agents, workforce planners, quality managers, supervisors, and managers that form the backbone of your customer service organization” as priority and what they most wanted to focus the discussion on.
    • Workforce management. The majority of participants continue to have at least 80% of their staff working from home, with only some companies having new hires in the office for onboarding. The challenge for many was figuring out how to keep employees engaged and creating a culture (which thrived in brick and mortar) in a virtual setting. Representatives from a large healthcare organization shared how they have done this by creating purpose for their agents and starting each day with a motivational call.
    • Hiring. During a recent vendor-sponsored webinar that Forrester cohosted, a poll of participants found that organizations expect a 20–40% increase in the amount of WFH agents long-term compared to what they had six months ago. We anticipate this having an impact on how organizations seek and recruit talent, including skills sets, technology, and environment. We wrote about this trend in September 2019, and COVID-19 has accelerated the shift.
  • Technology changes will be long-term. Many leaders have implemented hybrid environments to support the shift to WFH. This is expected to continue, as people are afraid to return to work. In addition, investment in technologies including customer relationship management and account maintenance will be leveraged to create more visibility into customer activity across touchpoints for more connected experiences.
  • Security is top of mind. Due to the shifts in technology and people, there has been an increased sense of risk when handling customer information and the possibility of fraud. This has led leaders, especially within the financial services space, to increase spending in this area to create more internal controls. This includes remote customer verification through secure email systems.

We are looking forward to continuing this conversation on June 30 during our webinar on the 30-60-90-day plan. If you are interested in registering, sign up here.

If you are interested in other reports aligned with these topics, check out our other research below:

Forrester’s 30-60-90-Day COVID-19 Response Plan For Customer Service

Forrester’s 30-60-90-Day COVID-19 Response Plan For Customer Service — New Labor Models Change The People Equation

The Three Customer Service Megatrends In 2020: Fuse AI And Agents To Drive Better Experiences