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When I’ve recently traveled to meet some of our clients face to face, it often surprised me to walk through their office corridors and see so many empty desks – and not due to the holidays either.
Remote and hybrid working is a key topic in NTT’s 2023 Global Customer Experience Report.
Operating models have kept evolving since the COVID-19 pandemic and, according to our research, only 43% of employees who interact with customers directly are now based in the office full-time. The remaining 57% work remotely – either always (30%) or as part of a hybrid working arrangement (27%).
Once the initial euphoria of returning to the office after the COVID-19 lockdown had dissipated, it became clear that many of us had really liked working from home.
The ensuing debates about savings on office space, the sustainability impacts of remote working and ways of welcoming employees safely to the office have now coalesced around a single thought: is it even possible to motivate employees to come to the office more often – and, if not, how do you maintain productivity and service delivery?
Doing it by force (for example, by implementing new HR regulations) isn’t the answer, despite recent reports that several organizations – even Zoom! – have ordered their employees back to the office.
Enabling your employees to work remotely
What is the solution? I’m afraid there’s no single clear answer. For now, let’s focus on the current situation. Our report shows that only 50% of organizations strongly agree that their employees have adequate access to the technology they need to perform optimally while working from home or remotely.
How about your organization? Do newcomers get a work-from-home package with a high-quality camera, a decent monitor, a headset and maybe even a speaker? Never mind the fact they also need adequate office furniture. This is of the utmost importance, as the report shows that employee satisfaction correlates directly with both your customer Net Promoter Score and your profit (according to more than 9 in 10 C-suite officials).
And what about your offices? Before COVID-19, roughly a third of meeting rooms were equipped with videoconferencing devices, which we used successfully for the most part.
But today, if you invite four people to a meeting, you can be sure that at least one of them will be working remotely. Have you upgraded all your meeting rooms accordingly? How are you optimizing your on-premises infrastructure to align with cloud-based EX tools? Three-quarters of organizations in our research confirmed they will invest in this area in the next two years.
The last important topic: cybersecurity now underpins all employee experience (EX) and customer experience (CX) strategies. Is your work environment as secure as possible? If not, how can you improve your security swiftly to protect sensitive employee and corporate data?
A lucrative new challenge
COVID-19 has permanently changed the way we work. Never before have EX and CX been this closely linked, and the two strategies need to be blended from now on.
Take contact-center agents as an example: it would have been unimaginable in Europe five years ago that 50% of the agents would work from home three days a week while their team leader was also at home, monitoring a mostly virtual team working on a cloud-based contact-center solution.
Now the team leader must ensure that their remotely working agents are fully enabled and empowered, in terms of both technology and workplace morale, so they can serve customers as efficiently as they could in the office back then.
It’s a tough challenge but one that is worth addressing: according to our report, organizations that have improved their EX and CX capabilities and significantly increased their levels of employee satisfaction in the past year show a 30% increase in their share of customer value or wallet (including customer retention).
So, what are you waiting for?
Download our 2023 Global Customer Experience Report to read more about how CX and EX are evolving, or contact us directly for more information.