By Donna Tuths, Chief Transformation and Innovation Officer at Sutherland
The term “Future of Work” has been used quite a bit these last 5 years. Much of the dialogue focused on how jobs were changing in response to digital took a supply-demand approach to the topic, often discussing which jobs might no longer be needed, or endeavoring to identify the “jobs of the future.” Fast forward to 2020 and the advent of COVID-19 and the world suddenly has to shut down for weeks, possibly months and it is clear that the “Future of Work” was really about how technology might enable people to work differently, outside the bounds of geography, untethered by time and space. Can we suddenly enable millions of people to engage in world commerce from their homes, apartments, villages? We can and we did.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had profound effects on our world, dramatically upending every aspect of our society with an unprecedented impact on our daily lives. At Sutherland, the success, safety, and well-being of our employees, clients, and partners worldwide have been paramount as we navigate a new normal together. Armed with swift action and transparent communication, our team has shown a humbling amount of grit and resilience — enabling us to pivot to new ways of working and supporting our clients — and their customers — throughout this transition, while coming to terms with long-term implications.
As businesses adapt to a new reality, they must be quick on their feet, adapting as rapidly as they can to ever-changing circumstances to meet the dynamic needs of the market. Sutherland has taken measured and proactive steps in response to the crisis, adjusting our operations to put the needs of our employees, clients and global community first.
We wanted to share some of the ways that Sutherland is setting our teams up for success, working closely with our clients to meet their changing needs, managing an environment that is still uncertain while ensuring we embrace a better future.
Helping Employees to Transition Successfully
Our people are the heart and soul of Sutherland and lessening the impact of the crisis on them and their families is top of mind. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the globe, we moved nearly 70% of our global operations to work-at-home models in a matter of 45 days.
This was a monumental undertaking. Our teams developed innovative plans that could even accommodate regions with limited connectivity or home environments that were not equipped for remote work. This included providing them with the right tools and equipment, such as installing service at employees’ homes at no cost to them and working extensively to relocate desktop and other equipment from our contact centers to our employees’ homes.
Ensuring Customer Connectivity
Sutherland was steadfastly focused on not only ensuring our own continuity, but on helping clients maintain business operations — long before the pandemic. This prepared us to effectively service our clients around the globe when trouble hit.
Despite working under new guidelines and restrictions, we are also focused on ways we can bring additional value to our clients and provide new services. With a singular mission to deliver exceptional experiences, we continue to invest in employee and customer support, services, and engagement. This is why we have invested so heavily in our omni-channel capabilities.
With these expanded capabilities, we work continuously to ensure our clients’ customers can reach them through alternative communication channels. Due to limits on voice support capacity during the pandemic, for example, we were able to create additional connectivity using SMS messaging, chat, social, and email as alternative methods to engage customers.
Using Technology to Embed Help at Home
A key initiative we are proud of is the development of augmented chat and voice support channels for our client through the use of natural language processing (NLP (natural language processing) capabilities. As part of this, we have created employee help lines, mobile applications and chatbot services that are specifically dedicated to addressing COVID-19-related issues.
Furthermore, as employees are no longer able to collaborate in-person to troubleshoot customer issues, we have applied assistance tools, such as Augment CXM to aid employees with enhanced content and problem-solving tools.
From New Normal to an Instrument of Strength
Between health concerns, a shifting economy, and community impact — the future is daunting and uncertain, but we have learned these last few months that we are capable of so much more than we had previously imagined. We have moved mountains together, and this has taught us so much. How do we ensure that we maintain this momentum when the pandemic is in our past?
When we think about the Future of Work we now have a new understanding. Our mission at Sutherland is to delve even deeper into human-machine collaboration and how it can enable people to accomplish more than ever before. So, it turns out that the Future of Work was not at all about how people would be replaced by machines, but rather about how they would be untethered, made boundless, and given the power of unbridled computing power and AI. Isn’t this an exciting thought?
We would love to hear from you and understand your adaptation strategies and how you plan to leverage them into future areas of strength. For more information on how we can work together and our services and support during this time, please drop us a line directly.