Navigating the New Normal
The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact across the globe. As the crisis unfolded, organisations, their workforces and their customers faced unprecedented challenges and uncertainty. Some of CSIA’s members have kindly shared how they have navigated through these testing times.
Transdev Sydney Ferries
We have nearly 600 employees working in the Sydney ferry fleet who are classed essential workers and they deal with the public all day. Their anxiety levels are high due to being out in the public domain and they are at a higher risk of contracting the virus. To support our staff all PPE was supplied, masks , gloves and hand sanitisers. We have public stand sanitisers on all our primary wharves to help our customers stay safe. Vessels and work stations including crib rooms are pro-sanitised every night and primary wharves are sanitised every 30 minutes by staff whilst on duty.
Vessels have markings on the deck for no go areas, to ensure the public does not go into the work area, to ensure our staff are safe by keeping social distancing. Communication to staff and unions has been paramount in our fight against COVID and we have been meeting with WHS representatives from the workforce weekly to provide updates. The WHS have been extraordinary in their efforts to make our workplace safe for both our staff and the community. Our staff have been fantastic in the way they have continued to provide a service whilst making every effort to stay safe and make wharves plus vessels safe for the community.
As the pandemic was beginning to unfold, we came together as an Executive Team to not only ensure that our organisation was well prepared for what was to come but also to focus on how we could best support our people, our customers and our community. In terms of our customers, we wanted to really focus on delivering meaningful support to those customers whose ways of working were greatly impacted. Our infrastructure has always allowed our office staff to work from home when required, so the ability for our team to get the work done has not changed. What has been a challenge, is maintaining a sense of team when people are working from various locations. To meet this challenge, we have implemented:
- Daily stand up meetings via Microsoft Teams for all our specialist teams.
- Company wide Townhall meetings have been conducted as Teams
- Live events, so that the entire company can come together once a week to celebrate the wins, ask questions of management and learn about new initiatives.
- A Wellness @ Home program, which allows team members to log in together for yoga classes, cooking classes and gaming sessions to maintain a sense of community.
- We have expanded our EAP program to provide guidance and counselling for any staff members that need it, especially those that live alone and may be feeling isolated during these difficult times.
For our Field Services staff who cannot work from home, in addition to the above items, we have also ensured that masks, sanitiser and sanitised company vehicles are provided to minimise the risk to the staff and the client.
The feedback from customers has been overwhelmingly positive. Our customers have been very appreciative that we have gone above and beyond for them by really putting some thinking behind what we could do to help make their own organisations operations more effective.
we really wanted to focus on delivering meaningful support to those customers whose ways of working were greatly impacted
Some examples of initiatives we have implemented for our customers include:
- A Parental Service Desk has been launched to support our educational customers as students transition to learning from home. This has been provided free of charge throughout the lockdown and to date has received 200 calls.
- We have increased our headcount within our Service Desk team ahead of the curve, so that our clients transitioning to a stay at home workforce still get the same support and response times they need to operate effectively.
- For some of our Enterprise sized clients, moving to a stay-at-home workforce is a monumental task. For these clients, we pulled together project teams to help source and the required infrastructure including laptops, and created dedicated service desk teams for them, which ensured they had the service levels they needed during a difficult transition for their staff.
The dedication and hard work of our Service Desk teams has been outstanding. Our daily call rates have increased by 321% yet our call wait times have only increased by 15%. Our positive reaction measures from clients remains above 98%, even with the increased volume, and this could not be achieved without our team’s commitment and dedication.
Australian Nursing Home Foundation (ANHF)
ANHF has a unique connection with our consumer’s cultural community, and ties with China, Hong Kong and other South-East Asian countries. Our management had been monitoring the news and impact of a potential global outbreak and the development of COVID-19. When the closure of Wuhan city came through with other travel restrictions, ANHF decided to form the Disease Outbreak Response to address the potential global threat of COVID-19, prior to it being declared a pandemic in Australia.
The DOR Team developed an overarching COVID-19 Response Plan, with each team member responsible for ensuring the strategies, review of actions, risks, and developing COVID Management Response Plans, business continuity testing across our residential care facilities and community programs.
ANHF took on a diverse range of strategies to address challenges such as appropriate ways to support and engage our community, language barriers, development of bilingual resources, revised our infection control management, comprehensive COVID training and competencies assessments, updated our time-critical business processes, business impact analysis, business continuity management, being flexible in our model of care and services, assessing the risks and vulnerability of our cohorts and develop new and innovative ways of engaging all our residents and older Australians in our community programs amid the pandemic. Our workforce responded positively to the training, competency assessment and procedures implemented in response to COVID19 preparedness. We established a dedicated site on our website to promote information, guided learning resources, current communications and important COVID-19 bilingual resources to our consumers and wider audience..
We established regular communication with staff to check on their and their close contacts’ wellbeing. Social media applications such as Zoom, WeChat and WhatsApp have been used to capture the concerns and needs for support. The chat groups help management to provide prompt response to help clarify any concerns or myths which bother the workforce. Our efforts in cross-collaboration across departments have created a more resilient workplace culture and help improved staff wellbeing and confidence to continue working and supporting our residents and consumers and their carers.
Simple acts of kindness became evident across the organisation and not just the continued kindness to residents/consumers. For example, colleagues helping colleagues across functions of the front line and corporate services to collaborate on co-developing and sharing collective knowledge and expertise to prepare and defend against the COVID-19 virus. Through the pandemic, the Team knew that they were making a difference as thank you donations and PPE resources flowed from the wider ANHF family and supporters to help with the course in keeping our older Australians and workforce safe and protected.
As of 27 July 2020, ANHF remains infection-free from COVID-19. That’s a staggering 184 days infection free since the first confirmed case was reported in Victoria on 25 th January 2020. ANHF remains vigilant with the potential resurgence of COVID-19 in the community. We hope that with the implemented health protocols, infection control management, our organisation will remain COVIDSafe for the foreseeable future.
Our roads are more important than ever during the pandemic, to transport essential workers and goods, like food and medical supplies, around our cities and across the country. People who need support are a key focus for us. That’s why we expanded our Link Assist program to provide up to three months of toll credits to people who need it most, like people on the frontline and people who are struggling financially as a result of COVID-19. Since the start of the pandemic, we've provided over $4.7m in toll credits to around 21,000 people, so while our Customer Service team is busier than ever, it's great to know we're making a difference.
“so while our Customer Service Team is busier than ever, its great to know we’re making a difference”
The key themes for Challenger during this time has been; the health and wellbeing of our staff, making sure we are able to continue with business as normal and lastly, flexibility whilst retaining best practices. In the Contact Centre we have also focused on making sure that the customer experience we provide has maintained our high standard of service and investing time in ways we can improve processes to reduce the impact of COVID on our customers.
Initially the biggest impact was technology. Having staff move home with limited resources and technological solutions that were less than optimal. It impacted the way we work, the way we communicate and connect.
We also had new starters commencing in our Contact Centre just before the peak of the pandemic / lockdown, and the majority of their onboarding had to be completed remotely. Most would agree that starting a new role can be daunting enough, but this unprecedented situation required the challenge of not only having to come up with a remote onboarding plan, but also delivering training remotely.
During this time, we also had initiatives in place to respond to the pandemic, including legislative changes, and digital initiatives to help our customers. A lot of these initiatives required “on the spot thinking and decision making” from a learning and development perspective, as training and content for the business unit needed to be developed quickly and delivered remotely. Staff have really stepped up during the pandemic and have followed the guidelines outlined by Challenger. We have a great vision for the organisation: I ACT; how staff act with integrity , aim high through the delivery of outstanding results, collaborate to achieve shared goals and think customer . These values have really been core to how staff have conducted themselves during these challenging times, staff have really stepped up and worked together to show that they have the ability to still succeed against adversity. Over the past few months; we have received countless pieces of positive feedback from our customers about the service they have received which just validates that staff are still providing the best service they can in a challenging environment.
During this COVID period, like other businesses, we have had to mobilise our whole organisation including our call-centre to work remotely. The operation of doing this did not come without significant challenges and headaches. There were so many things we needed to consider like:
we have focused on making sure that the customer experience we provide has maintained our very high standard of service and investing in ways we can improve processes to reduce the impact of COVID on our customers
No down-time for our customers, our services are ‘essential to them’ and we can’t give them more to worry about so we need to be operational as per normal when they need us. The quality of the infrastructure and set-up of our staff in their homes, this was a significant investment we needed to make out of no where. Remote access to tools/systems that are usually only available in the office needed to be opened up. With that came another level of security we needed to invest in to secure our data for our customers.
At the time where most of our competitors had their doors closed for multiple reasons including having their call centres in other countries, we never had any down-time as our ‘disaster recovery plans’ were solid and we had the operational expertise in our business to move everything off-site, quick and easy for our staff which resulted in the best possible outcome for customers which was the number one goal. Being able to do all of this with no effect whatsoever on the business and in less than 24 hours is our biggest triumph during the pandemic along with simply being able to keep our staff at home, connected with their families in a time that they all needed to be together as no one understood exactly what was taking place. We were able to keep our staff in jobs, being paid and able to be with their families which in turn enabled us to deliver superior service to our customers in a time that all they needed was solutions in a time of uncertainty. “we were able to keep our staff in jobs, being paid and able to be with their families, which in turn enabled us to deliver superior service to our customers”