For many office-based businesses, the impact of the first complete lockdown wasn’t too harsh. Okay, it came as a bit of a shock, and some businesses were certainly ‘caught with their pants down’. But many companies were already allowing (or even encouraging) staff to work at home at least part of the time, whilst those who weren’t found that, after a few days, staff were getting back up to speed and workflows were getting back to normal – even when some staff had to cart their desktops home at short notice!
Since then, of course, restrictions have come and gone, to the extent that no-one is being officially asked to work from home. But, have working habits moved on in the meantime?
Is Hybrid the ‘new Norm’?
With the move from enforced ‘working from home’ to a more relaxed initiative, a new catchword shuffled into parlance – Hybrid – which quickly referred to a working practice where staff worked partly from home, partly from the office, or from anywhere. But the key to this type of working is to have appropriate systems, hardware and back-up, to ensure that it works smoothly.
One of the issues for many of the companies thrust into this new world, was that they didn’t have the back-up systems immediately available. Maybe they already had a CRM system in place, but was it up to the job of managing a mixture of office and remote working? To make a hybrid working environment workable, a CRM system has to be in place to support the Sales, Marketing and Customer Service teams and be able to support communications between each of them. That’s because communication is the key to success in any environment, but particularly where the customer-facing teams are not in the same location, or where key individuals are working remotely.
Step forward online meetings! There are now many online conferencing platforms available, but their proliferation and expansion multiplied exponentially in the weeks and months following the first UK lockdown in March 2020. The old saying that “Out of adversity, springs opportunity” was never truer than for those companies who had been having an uphill struggle to sell their online conferencing platforms to a mass audience who were being slow to listen. Now, those same prospects had to listen and, indeed, were beating a path to their door.
Customer Relationship Management systems are key to communications and tracking
Companies that have a good and versatile CRM system have a head-start, because the communications set-up is more advanced. That’s not just person-to-person communication, or video-conferencing, but also the sharing of data and customer interactions. When all teams are aware, through real-time working, what communications are being sent to or received from a customer, it saves on confusion and replication of effort. It also ensures that different teams are not giving different messages to the same customer. There’s nothing more frustrating than to send a communication to a customer, only to find that someone from another team is talking to them on a different tack.
Cloud-based CRM systems offer full, live back-up for team and customer conversations and the real-time facility enables everyone access to see that communications are taking place. These conversations can then be recorded to ensure that any interested internal parties can have access to that conversation and the outcomes.
Working from anywhere – the ‘new Norm’!
Working from home is not new, nor is a hybrid solution, but the wherewithal to make these solutions and practices work more efficiently, is now enhanced through streamlined systems and improved communications tools. No longer does working from home mean the need to update yourself and your records as and when you visit the office, because enhanced CRM systems, particularly solely cloud-based ones, provide a normal working environment wherever remote workers are working from.
Making use of these new technological breakthroughs is essential if companies are going to meet the competitive demands of business in markets as the 21st Century progresses. Technology is only going to get smarter and more inclusive, paving the way for businesses who embrace these developments to expand.
Remote working is here to stay – not only because advances in technology allow it to, but because it is seen as beneficial for businesses. Businesses who see the benefits of smaller offices or totally remote workforces, which can help their bottom line whilst offering improvements on communication lines that can outstrip an office environment.
If you’d like to learn more about delivering a CRM that enables your team to work from anywhere then get in touch.