When Employee Safety Came Before Customer Satisfaction

Anand Subbaraj, CEO, Zuper illustrates the pandemic-led changes that materialized in service industries

Customer demands and behavior have dramatically been altered by the pandemic, overwhelming lives and businesses worldwide. While some companies suffered irreversible blows, many endured the recession and are in recovery mode.

Anand Subbaraj CEO of Zuper a field workforce management software companyDiscussing the different scenarios faced by service companies after the pandemic was Anand Subbaraj, CEO, Zuper with EnterpriseTalk. He opines that since the pandemic, delivery and logistics have experienced unprecedented growth and demand. Yet, there is still some caution. “When a close contact with a technician is required at home or inside a facility, there is caution, and crisis in those industries. Organizations have adopted both short term and long term strategies for dealing with this impact.”

Demonstrating how organizations have adopted and made investments and changes to address the pandemic, Subbaraj makes a surprising statement. “Customer satisfaction has become second to employee safety.” According to him, before 2020, customer satisfaction was the number one priority for organizations. Since the pandemic, the health and safety of employees have become more important. Although a tad unsettling, it makes perfect sense.

Subbaraj further discusses the protocols, policies, and tools that organizations have adopted to ensure that employees are safe and can perform their operations effectively. Technology has been the center of these protocols. “We are seeing a tremendous acceleration of digital transformation and service organizations have adopted technology to ensure that their workforce has the right information anywhere on any device. They can then perform with more autonomy, more control, and perform effectively without requiring a visit to a physical office,” he says.

Listen to the Podcast Anand Subbaraj, CEO of Zuper, a field workforce management software company

What’s more, Subbaraj states that in service businesses, “there is a huge investment in remote technical support to complement physical visits and the adoption of self-service options whenever possible.” He mentions the rise in adoption of AI-powered chatbots that offered services to customers without manual intervention or delays.

Home delivery systems were by far the most important for customers. Furthermore, innovative models for contactless operations had entered the market. “Home delivery was already popular, but there was a huge, unprecedented demand that the pandemic caused. We had seen organizations adopting efficient scheduling and dispatching to address workforce fatigue and deficiencies. There are situations and scenarios where organizations went lean with a smaller workforce and had to ensure they had the right tools and technology to ensure that they can efficiently schedule and dispatch to the available workforce.”

Also Read: Technological Uplift of Workforce and Customers

Subbaraj claims that innovations and protocols accelerated by the pandemic changed the mindset of service organizations that once operated on legacy technology systems. “They are operating more cost-efficiently and their innovations are accelerated, benefiting customers.”

With innovations and experiments come failed efforts too. When asked about organizations coping with failures, Subbaraj says, “There are many cases when automation efforts fail or do not live up to the expectations. Nevertheless, it is important for companies to maintain an open mindset. Successful organizations learn from their failures.” Explaining the approach of ‘Build. Measure. Learn. Repeat’, he adds, “Automation is a journey before it can unleash its full potential. We usually recommend organizations to start small. Take one process, apply automation, learn, and repeat. In these cases, organizations are more likely to succeed.”

Ending the conversation with a customers’ perspective, Subbaraj claims, “Customer experience and customer satisfaction has seen a huge benefit from innovations that have happened around the world, especially on service businesses. They are getting better services, contactless experiences, and are kept in a tight loop.”