Garry Gormley talks about how Covid Testing Labs could benefit from outsourcing solutions

6 ways outsourcing could help vaccinate your Covid challenges
Garry Gormley
Founder and Director of F.A.B. Solutions
Wednesday, September 1, 2021
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6 ways outsourcing could help vaccinate your Covid challenges

We have all had to adapt in the last 18 months. Covid has brought lots of challenges for many businesses and for those that are customer facing the challenge has been amplified by not only having to internalise and manage their own emotions but helping provide support to others that are feeling stressed, anxious, and worried about their own or a loved one’s health. This type of conversation is hard to handle at the best of times, but it is made harder when call volumes are high, customer wait times are long and your teams are multi-tasking and perhaps taking on duties that aren’t their core role.

Not every person is skilled and equipped to have these challenging conversations and we each have our own strengths, but some people have been thrust into roles that are not in their natural comfort area and have been significantly stretched beyond their comfort zones. The impact of this is a more anxious and highly stressed workforce, where productivity drops as the resource is spread so thinly and employees are having to multi-task on activities that are not their core skills set.

What happens as a result? Our workforce starts to take the strain which can lead to an increase in sickness absence, staff engagement levels begin to reduce, and productivity starts to become impacted and ultimately more errors and rework. This becomes a vicious cycle that can be hard to break.

The challenge we are presented with is how do we supply a service to people who need help and who is best placed to provide this? For example, when you recruit a lab technician what are the core skills you are looking for? Does good Customer service and the ability to handle difficult customers form part of the recruitment process? It is likely that they weren’t the key skills you were assessing them for, yet we may now be calling on them to change and adapt to the new demands of the working environment? We must look at the stages of change when we ask our teams to start new activities and how this affects mindset and motivation to do these tasks.

Where once they were highly skilled and focused on the job in hand, we are now thrusting them into interactions which are not their core role and not what they were recruited to do and as a result we are moving them into what they might consider to be an uncomfortable situation, so we have to be mindful of that.

We call this stage Conscious Incompetence, it’s a state that we have all been through when learning new things, we are thrust into a new way of doing something and we are not good at it! Generally over time we move into a space where if we do the task or activity enough times we move into Unconscious Competence, i.e. we can do this with our hands tied behind our backs! How do we do that? Repetition and practice of course, but what happens when we do not practice often enough, or we don’t repeat the same exercise over and over? We do not embed the skills needed for this to become an unconscious activity and we constantly have to think about what’s next or how to approach the task, which in turn means we never become fully proficient, we take longer to do it and constantly have to revisit the task and as a consequence we never truly feel happy or comfortable actually doing it.

This is what is happening when you split your teams time between tasks that are not their core role, so how can outsourcing help you solve this problem?

This article talks about 6 core ways outsourcing can help you improve the relationship you have with your customers, help your teams become more productive and lift engagement through focusing on core skills and roles.

1.    Brand reputation - Our people are an extension of our brand, what they say, how they behave and how efficiently they handle enquiries forms a key part of how the customer perceives the customer experience quality.  When faced with the challenge of balancing multiple responsibilities and tasks, your internal team face a bigger risk of error and distractions which could mean that customer service falters. Outsourcing helps remove that risk and the associated impacts to your brand and your customer’s experience. Outsources have experience of managing multiple campaigns for multiple brands and are therefore experienced at representing your brand to help you create that seamless customer experience with well trained and dedicated call handlers.

2.    Specialist skills – As your lab team are experts in testing, outsourcers are experts at what they do in call handling, as we mentioned earlier, when you are focused on what you do and that’s your core role, you become highly skilled, more efficient, and more effective in how you deliver for your customers, which can lead to higher productivity and revenue. Outsourcing can be so much more effective than having your internal teams handling enquiries, centralising your calls into a team that have experience handling 1000’s of calls daily can help optimise systems and processes to handle, triage and direct only the calls that you need to handle back to your team so they can focus on doing more of what really counts.

 

3.    Flexibility, Service, and access: - Customers calling in are usually calling because they are anxious or worried about symptoms or test results, they may have lost a loved one recently so maybe feeling particularly worried or stressed about the situation. It is at this point callers want quick access to information and certainty about the next steps and they want someone to recognise their problem quickly, empathise and take ownership. Providing fast, quality service at times of emotional vulnerability and stress is common within the outsourced network, with highly trained and focused call centre operatives handling a multitude of call types every day you know that they can provide reassurance and support to your callers, quickly and effectively.

 

4.    Demand Control – Reducing repeat callers and access to latest technology can help control demand more effectively. With a significant resource pool available across multiple campaigns outsourcing makes it easier to manage peaks in demand for example where there is a response to a breakout or a spike in demand in a region your internal team may struggle to mobilise quickly additional resource, outsourcing your calls allows for team members to be quickly moved across to campaigns quickly to help respond to the rising demand. Conversely customers want to be able to choose how they can interact, and a call is not always the best option, with cloud-based technology available in most outsourced operations this can help create more channels and more choice for your customers to access information, for example sign positing via web-chat or messenger channels to useful FAQ documents and next steps to eliminate the need for customers to call.

Access to Interactive Voice recognition systems can help deflect calls based on their type and frequency to the right department acting as a first line triage allowing you to handle only the calls you really need to.

 

5.    Data and Analysis – Very similar to the COVID curve you want to flatten out call demand and understand why people are calling to do this you require insight and this is where outsourcing can provide not only useful call intelligence on outcomes to help reduce demand but it can help inform and identify trends such as peak call times, reasons why someone is calling, if they have called more then once and if there are any areas where your process can be improved. The advantage of this is it helps improve first call resolution, if we can tackle the callers query in the first instance by understanding the reason for the call and getting them the right answer first time, it can free up agent’s time and leave customers feeling more satisfied and less worried or anxious.

 

6.    Productivity and Oversight – In the same way you recruited your team for their skills to be great Lab technicians, outsourcers choose their team carefully also, core skills being adaptability, ability to work under pressure and towards targets and deliver great customer service skills. Outsourced contact centre agents are skilled at handling challenging customers and providing high levels of customer service, this is underpinned by robust management oversight and training and support to help maintain high levels of productivity. Where some people might see outsourcing as a loss of control on call handling the reality is outsourcing can give you more control over the are as that are of most importance to you and insights that you might not have had in managing this internally allowing you to make data led decisions which improves productivity and performance.

 

Ultimately your people should be tasked with the key responsibility of testing and outsourcing your call demand to outsourcing specialists can help them focus on their core activities and allow them to respond more confidently to queries that have been pre qualified and triaged. The benefits of this can be seen in Customer Satisfaction, reduction in errors and increase in employee satisfaction.

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