In 2020, we learned that remote work is no longer a nice-to-have perk—it is an operational pillar that enables employees to serve customers, generate revenue, reduce costs, and innovate at any time from anywhere using any device.
Read on to learn valuable insights to accelerate your organisation’s shift to Operate From Anywhere or download the full ebook here.
Section 01. The New Corporate Imperative
Build remote work into your enterprise operations to get the full-scale benefits.
Turning the page on work from home
Over the last several months, IT leaders have found themselves in the centre of a C-Suite conversation. For many, work from home was not a priority. However, circumstances dictated that they rapidly shift employees—tens of thousands of them in some cases—from working in the office to working from home often in just a matter of days.
While every IT leader had their own journey during this time, overall, the transition has generally worked thanks to a combination of broadband availability, mobile and cloud solutions and many long hours by countless dedicated IT leaders and their teams. Leaders often found themselves improvising tools that were good enough, at least on a temporary basis.
These temporary solutions left gaps, silos and sustainability questions: gaps between employee communications and contact centre agent-customer communications; organisational and application silos as global teams chose different communications platforms; and sustainability questions about technological approach and long-term cost effectiveness under IT budget duress.
Short on time? Download the full ebook “Operate from Anywhere: The Next Evolution of Remote Work” here and find out how to make your technology work for you.
But the landscape has shifted again and now, according to a recent Gartner CFO survey, 74% of companies plan to permanently shift to more remote work post COVID-19 and 80% of Customer Service and Support leaders predict that the transition to work from home will have a lasting impact on the way contact centres operate.
To help leaders on this journey, we recommend they think long-term and answer these key questions:
- How can I ensure a consistent, frictionless and more personalised customer experience—all while call volume is increasing and budgets are shrinking?
- How effectively can I support the organisation as processes previously performed face-to-face are now handled remotely?
- What tools will best help boost productivity and bring open collaboration to the entire dispersed workforce— without adding complexity and confusion?
- How do I help provide oversight, control and visibility into every area of the business?
Introducing Operate from Anywhere
Organisations are evolving from the temporary, individual (or departmental) nature of work from home towards a more holistic approach. “Operate from anywhere” recognises that most business is a team sport with little room for “silo-doing” and “silo-thinking”.
It recognises that long-term business survival requires a strategic approach to communications, one that optimises productivity, ensures customer retention, maximises revenue generation, and provides visibility throughout the organisation.
This is not a quick-fix, IT-only problem. It is a critical component of good corporate governance that must be top of mind for corporate boards and the entire C-Suite. With our 8×8 Open Communication Platform, it’s possible to bring together your employees, agents and customers. From anywhere. At any time. And from any device. Today, these are the essentials of business. Start with 8×8 from Opus.
Download the full section one to get further information on why operate from anywhere is a necessity for business success.
Section 02. The Cost-CX High-Wire Act
When times are good, contact centres are CX-centric.
When times are bad, contact centres are a cost centre.
Sound familiar? Contact centre veterans will agree that this has long been the prevailing wisdom. But today, as the world economy struggles to find equilibrium (and the US deals with the greatest financial setback in 80-90 years), the idea of prioritising dollars over customer experience seems outrageous. The reality is that business leaders must prioritise both.
Oh yeah. And do it in a way that’s never been done before.
The digital transformation tightrope
No one could have prepared for 2020. But for companies behind on digital transformation, IT leaders found themselves walking a precarious tightrope.
Employees were sent home. Call volumes spiked while reduced staff availability (whether due to layoffs or remote work challenges) resulted in increased wait times. Gaps in business communications, customer support and popular meeting platforms grew into large chasms. Overnight, IT leaders found themselves struggling to successfully and securely connect employees and customers. Hybrid models and siloed solutions were pushed to the limits. IT was walking a tightrope, and for many, there was simply no safety net.
The customer experience high-wire act
Customers today expect fast, frictionless, personalised service. In the midst of a global crisis, the stakes are even higher, and businesses recognise this. According to a June 2020 survey conducted by Aberdeen, 66% of contact centres today still rank improving customer experience results and consistency as their top goal.
Typically, organisations look to tackle this first through automation. Historically, this is not uncommon. The Brookings Institution reports that for each of the three recessions that have occurred over the last 30 years, the pace of automation has increased.
Fortunately, we are at a unique time in which self-service and the use of automation no longer detracts from a contact centre’s ability to provide exemplary custom experience. In fact, self-service is now the preferred form of service.
But self-service of the past is not the same thing as the AI-assisted self-service options we see today. We have evolved from auto attendants to basic IVR to a full, intelligent conversational exchange. In June 2020, Gartner updated its “The Use of Conversational AI for Customer Service” report, projecting that 20% of customer service interactions will be handled by conversational agents by 2022 and that 30% of all organisations will utilise AI- enabled process orchestration and intelligence.
It’s fairly easy to quantify the benefits and ROI of conversational AI technology. It’s also easy to understand why IT leaders would feel especially pressured during this time. They were already walking the digital transformation tightrope, when increased pressure to meet customer expectations during a time of crisis elevated that rope to a high wire. AI assisted self-service is all about options; the question is, where to start?
Section 2 Takeaways
To walk the high wire of cost, quality, and customer experience, IT leaders need to eliminate silos, facilitate collaboration, and provide intelligent self-service. And they need to do this in a secure, reliable, grounded way that supports the unique requirements of remote agents. Bring business communication, collaboration, contact centre, and AI assisted self-service together, and you can effectively operate from anywhere and ensure long-term business survival.
Section 03. The Productivity Paradigm
Create a culture of productivity with a tech-first approach.
The shift to remote work has presented both challenge and opportunity, and business leaders are looking for more permanent strategies to boost employee productivity.
But what if, rather than a declaration made by leadership, productivity is actually a byproduct of culture? Simply put, steadfast productivity cannot be demanded. And research is proving that productive workforces have something in common: employees are engaged and connected. According to The McKinsey Global Institute, productivity improves by 20%-25% in organisations where employees are connected.
If productivity is a proven byproduct of connectedness and collaboration within the culture, how can organisations work to cultivate this kind of environment? And what does this look like for businesses supporting highly distributed, remote employees? How do we create a culture that drives productivity and transforms the concept of work from home to a successful operate-from-anywhere business model?
Improvements in productivity when organisations ensure employees are connected.
Source: McKinsey Global Institute
Start with the right foundation for success.
To help illustrate, let’s use a sports analogy. Basketball players, for instance, are typically required to do a variety of drills and performance enhancing activities that will never be seen on the court. The speed ladder agility drill, for example, would most likely look absurd if all of a sudden you watched your favourite ball player move up and down the court in such a way. But this drill helps players become more agile, quick to respond, and build endurance. It builds a solid foundation for the player, and therefore the team, to excel. And without these key building blocks, it will be difficult for the team to thrive.
Streamlined technology is the catalyst for productivity.
Sadly, most remote workers do not currently feel connected or collaborative in their current environment. A recent study looking at the impact of remote work since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic found that roughly 54% of respondents said their primary challenge in working from home was feeling disconnected or alone.
Respondents said their primary challenge in working from home was feeling disconnected or alone.
Source: ServiceNow’s “Work From Home Productivity Study” June 2020
Communication and collaboration
Instant 1:1 and group messaging are powerful tools to bring people together. We’ve clearly seen the limit of email, with 96% of workers saying unnecessary emails waste their time.
Live video meetings go a long way to recover some value lost when face-to-face meetings aren’t possible, providing connection through body language, eye contact, and other non-verbal cues. A unified communications suite should make video meetings an integral part of its interface and functionality.
Quality management and coaching
Quality management (QM) can have a profound impact on agent empowerment and engagement. Agents are typically highly monitored, which can create a feeling of micromanagement and negatively impact productivity. QM programs can help the agent to feel a greater sense of connection to the end goal. As you share feedback, coaching, and offer new transparency to your agents, this builds trust and connectedness in ways that contribute to productivity. You can also check out these additional six tips to help boost agent productivity with QM.
Chapter 3 Takeaways
We’ve established that a single platform approach is crucial to building a foundation for connectedness and productivity. Now you know the benefits organisations can realise.
Download the complete section three below to learn more about how to boost your team’s productivity.
Section 04. The Time Is Now
Get better ROI for your communications investments by leveraging a single cloud platform.
There is more urgency than ever to make your move to cloud communications.
This section examines ROI factors and business benefits of moving to cloud communications on a single platform. It is the summer of 2020. Leaders must act boldly to invest in these services that can keep their businesses open in normal times and in crises like we are in today. Jobs and businesses are at stake. The time is now to make that transformation.
With few exceptions, on-premises business telephony is headed to the island of cassette tapes, compact-disc players, VCRs, and flip phones. Gartner Research has predicted that “by 2022, four cloud-based UCaaS seat licenses will be sold for every premises-based UC license, driven by an expanding list of cloud communications capabilities in UCaaS solutions. (Source: Top 3 Considerations When Moving From Premises-Based Unified Communications to Cloud-Based UCaaS, 4/3/2020)” That is a quadruple number of licenses for cloud, and the disparity will only grow. This does not mean certain hardware such as handsets cannot be reused. It just means that all infrastructure innovation is happening in the cloud.
Because ROI is such an important part of discussions about whether and how to migrate to a cloud communications solution, we have created the 8×8 ROI Calculator to give you confidence about what you can save and from where.
This tool is a companion to our VoIP Speed Test service that tells you how fast your Internet connection is to the nearest 8×8 server. Having employees use this service can help you plan your networking requirements.
Using the Web-based tool, you enter profile information like the number of main and branch offices plus any contact centres. After you plug in information about your current phone and online collaboration costs, the tool generates a report that estimates your potential monthly and annual cost savings.
Why does single-platform cloud communications beat individual cloud apps?
This is a common early question when beginning to evaluate vendors. Naturally, we believe a unified platform offers customers more flexibility, cost savings, innovation and other benefits over the a-la-carte approach.
While people often say a unified cloud platform offers the benefits of a single vendor, what does that really mean? In reality, those benefits go far beyond volume discounts, licensing consolidation, and streamlined tech support.
- Capturing analytics across multiple apps like video conferencing, contact centre and voice to gain better insights that can improve operations and performance
- Transitioning seamlessly between multiple channels — for instance, when users are in a voice call and want to switch to a video meeting, to perhaps share a screen, they can do so in a click.
- Making a new world of data available across apps, facilitating AI/machine learning
- Giving users a unified mobile communications app covering voice, video conferencing, chat, SMS, and fax
Going beyond cost and time savings.
Each organisation has its own transformation business objectives. Where we see cloud platforms helping customers the most is with speed and scale. Speed is important because you need to adapt quickly to changing conditions. How quickly can you onboard new employees, open new offices or initiate a remote work program when needed? Beyond hard dollar savings, these are important considerations when evaluating cloud communications.
The cloud was made for scaling benefits regionally and globally—even if most of the administration is based out of headquarters. Combining speed with scale leads to:
- Setting up new offices faster
- Reducing product time-to-market
- Improving employee collaboration by breaking down communications and data silos
- Simpler user administration
- Making and receiving lower latency, higher quality calls
- Paying less money for international calling
- Integrating quickly with business apps and CRM tools
- Safeguarding business communications
- Giving employees the flexibility to work from anywhere
- Reducing office space as more staff opt to work remotely
Section 4 Takeaways
- The economics of legacy on-premises communications platforms are worsening.
- To be a resilient business, one that is agile with speed and scale, it needs to adopt cloud communications.
- Be sure to factor expected time savings in your ROI modeling.
- Examine the benefits of using a single cloud platform over a-la-carte apps.
Find out more about why operate from anywhere is a necessity now. Download the full page section here.
Section 05. Assess Your Landscape
Defining the essentials of cross-company collaboration and communication in work’s next evolution.
If someone in late 2019 told you that a global pandemic would soon send most work and education home for months on end, you probably would have kept sipping your latte and returned to ordering summer 2020 concert tickets on your phone.
Of course, that’s exactly what happened. But as we look at which organisations adapted more effectively, we see agility and resilience as their most common trait, not foresight. Agility and resilience most often supported by deep investment in cloud communications and collaboration. Forward-thinking leaders are now taking steps to build upon this, driving sustainable transformation of people, process and technology to allow them to thrive and succeed in the new normal world.
said their use of off-premises technologies had continued to grow since the onset of the pandemic.
Source: Snow Software poll of 250 global IT leaders, June 2020
Assessing the landscape.
In reality, success was not universal. Riverbed’s recent Future of Work Survey found that most businesses lacked the appropriate technology, with 69% saying they were not completely prepared to support extensive remote work at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak. Even for those organisations where most employees were already remote, more than half said they were still not completely prepared. Gartner’s July 2020 Hype Cycle for Unified Communication and Collaboration Strategies recognised COVID-19’s impact on the digital workplace, saying “organisations must reassess their UCC strategies to support the growing importance of remote work and business continuity.”
For every successful organisation, there’s another organisation who survived the short-term transition but now recognises it lacks the capabilities and technical agility to prepare it for the next phase.
of businesses were not completely prepared to support extensive remote work at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Source: Riverbed, Future of Work Global Survey, June 2020
Section 5 Takeaways
Many forward-thinking organisations are taking advantage of a single, integrated cloud communications platform to unify voice, video, chat, and SMS, including contact centre agents.
You have a choice on your journey to communications centricity.
Hear about Acer’s unique journey with 8×8 now by watching our on-demand webinar detailing their lessons learned about enabling their global workforce and pivoting to an operate-from-anywhere mindset.
Want to read the complete section? Download section five of this page here.
Section 06. Don’t Lock Down Your Growth
Zero to running in the cloud in as few as 48 hours.
Go from zero to running in the cloud, in as few as 48 hours.
Communication is essential for customer experience and employee productivity. Getting it right means having the right combination of technology and technique. It’s time to look to the experts: professional services can help deploy your cloud communications solution fast, and get it done right the first time.
Read on to learn how to augment your IT team’s capabilities and connect your business faster, better.
of businesses surveyed by Frost & Sullivan say migration represents a top hindrance to cloud.
Source: Cloud Migration Services and Software – Which Approach Best Fits Your Enterprise Needs?
Would you take a chance with your infrastructure or security, particularly with agents having to work from home? Why gamble on your company’s entire inbound and outbound communications? As businesses transition to long- term adaptation, being late to the game means losing money and customers, a recipe for not staying in business.
We asked our Contact Centre Specialist Kris Graham why people use the Opus rapid deployment services. “Successful contact centres measure performance against two key metrics: cost to serve and agent churn. Reducing these costs is key, but there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. If agents can’t easily do their job because they don’t have an adequate system or the look and feel of the platform isn’t fit for purpose, that could be a reason for them to leave.”
Our rapid deployment services mean that we can help organisations get to where they need to be with their contact centres fast.
When speed is critical to an organisation’s success, teaming up with cloud communications consultants can make a big difference. Global ACMI leasing, air charter and aviation consultancy specialists, ACC Aviation, serve a diverse, global client base. Their international office network spans Europe, the Middle East, Africa, North America and Asia Pacific. In the midst of COVID-19 they needed both home working capability whist communicating simply and cost-effectively with overseas colleagues and customers.
They partnered with Opus and 8×8 to power their business.
“I have to congratulate Opus for the outstanding job they did recommending this system to us. Thank you very much for all the hours we spent discussing this project, analysing everything, explaining all the details. Thank you so much for designing such a brilliant solution for us! The system is very well designed, and it has finally given us the flexibility to work easier and faster.”
Technology Manager, ACC Aviation
Coming out on top.
Deploying cloud communications and contact centres is not about cookie-cutter solutions that promise low price but sacrifice long-term value. These business-critical applications require a migration methodology with a personalised approach—one that won’t interrupt your business or your customer engagement. Getting it right means building a system that rapidly addresses what you need today, and then building a platform that can adapt to whatever the future might bring.
Find out everything you need to know to ensure your business success with the complete “Operate from Anywhere” Ebook. Get your copy today.
Section 6 Takeaways
With the world changing rapidly, so must your business. As you look towards the cloud for communications and collaboration, know that it truly can be done in days when you work with experienced professionals. We hope you will take away the following:
- How fast do you need your cloud communications or contact centre up and running? Does your internal IT team fully understand how to map call flows from your legacy system to a new cloud-based solution?
- Before you sign a contract, make sure you understand what is required to deploy your cloud solution and whether you need extra support to get it done correctly and fast.
- Not every scenario requires a full set of managed services. Learn about different services tiers and options to match what your needs are.
Section 07. Leaders Open Up
How organisations transitioned to Operate from Anywhere.
In 2020, business leaders had to rethink the way things (and people) work. What worked before wasn’t working anymore. In-store, in-office, on-premises, huddles, handshakes: these staples of business life can’t happen from the kitchen table, home office, or spare bedroom many of us now consider our workplace.
But remote work—once considered a cushy tech company perk—suddenly became serious business.
For thousands of corporate offices, Zoom turned itself overnight into a verb and a free quick fix for virtual engagement. But for traditional contact centres tethered by physical real estate and hardware, but forced to work remotely, they had to call on an entirely new way to work.
No small change.
The effect that technology has on the agent and customer experience should not be underestimated. According to Contact Babel ‘The UK Customer Experience Decision- Makers’ Guide 2020-21’ the extent to which technology challenges are affecting the agents ability to improve their customers’ experience is significant. While there has been a significant move to cloud – supported recently by the need for remote working – it is clear that many are still using legacy on-premises technology meaning there is still a long way to go before businesses can fully develop their CX supporting strategy.
Leaders are seeing investments to connect the contact centre are paying off, though. According to Minkara’s research, unified communication-enabled contact centres see the following:
- 50% increase in agent productivity
- 2.9x average handle time improvement year-over-year
- 80% decrease in customer complaints
That’s no small change. In addition to improved CX metrics, employee experiences change too. Improved engagement rates and reduced turnover are just two of the benefits digital transformation leaders are seeing.
The overall benefits of a more integrated worker communications experience are:
- Higher adoption of communications solutions
- Improved productivity
- Less training/support
- More team cohesion
- Less cognitive overload
- Lower operational costs
Chapter 7 Takeaways
In-office, on-premises, huddles and handshakes: we may not be going back there, at least not anytime soon. But leaders like Acer will tell you embracing that is not just okay, it can be a competitive advantage.
- Leaders are bringing people together through UCaaS and CCaaS technologies and transforming the contact centre into a connected, operate-from-anywhere environment.
- Leaders are extending their lead through unified communications, increasing profits and productivity while reducing real estate and technology costs.
Learn more about how industry leaders are supporting their teams with operate from anywhere.
Section 08. Put It All Together
Now it’s your turn to apply what you have learned to build Operate From Anywhere in your business.
If you picked C, you’re in good company. But now it’s time for executives to take back the reins and lead a proactive, sustainable digital transformation.
One of the first and biggest steps in digital transformation is establishing effective communication and collaboration, and for most, that probably means moving away from disparate tools employed as a quick fix and choosing a cloud communication platform that can really do the job right.
Dion Hinchcliffe from Constellation Research recently published research which recognises the heightened need for “the best digital communications tools to be not only available for their far-flung talent base but situated as effectively as possible for their newly remote workers to remain, and in many cases become even more, productive.” Constellation points to its research over the years which has shown that, “the digital communications experience has grown ever more fragmented and complex, to the considerable detriment of effective engagement and collaboration both between workers and between them and other key stakeholders such as customers or partners/suppliers.”
The events of 2020 didn’t help in this regard. IT leaders had to improvise digital communications solutions that were good enough, at least on a temporary basis. But these temporary solutions uncovered several issues: gaps between employee communications and contact centre agent-customer communications; organisational and application silos as global teams chose different communications platforms; and sustainability questions about technological approach and long-term cost effectiveness under IT budget duress.
The average team currently uses 6 approaches to support project collaboration and at least 4 different communication tools. 48% of organisations say their top collaboration hurdle is ineffective communication between team members.
Time to come together.
You have a choice on your digital transformation journey: peace of mind, or just pieces.
At Opus, we’ve put it all together: the solution your organisation needs to communicate and collaborate more effectively, delivered through an essential app that allows you to take back the reins in your digital transformation.
From technology retailers, to government agencies, to higher education institutions, forward-thinking brands are empowering their organisation with voice, video, chat, contact centre and enterprise APIs to enable tremendous growth.
The benefits of an integrated communications solution are clear. Our 8×8 solutions provides the essential all-in-one application.
Let’s get started together.