Underpreparedness of ANZ businesses for COVID-19 highlighted in new report

A new survey by cloud customer experience technology provider Genesys reveals the extent of lack of preparation Australian and New Zealand (ANZ) organisations had in their business continuity planning (BCP) when the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

Focusing on five key areas, the survey explored: issues and concerns stemming from COVID-19; effectiveness of business continuity plans; shift to remote working and a home-based workforce; managing workforce engagement; and the “new normal.”

The report noted that while many of the organisations surveyed had business continuity plans in place, only 76 per cent had formally enacted those plans by June 2020. Those who chose not to enact their formal BCP either did so because they felt their BCP did not cater adequately to a pandemic, or they were able to respond to the situation without officially enacting their BCP.

It also found that the majority of BCPs tend to focus on risks or threats to the physical premises or technology infrastructure and were based on the likelihood of addressing natural disasters, such as floods, bushfires or earthquakes. With the outbreak of the pandemic, it was found that only a few had taken into account such specific type of event that would create such a severe impact on their workforce and workspace while not actually compromising the physical or technology infrastructure.

Despite this finding, all the organisations surveyed were able to rapidly shift at least part, if not all, of their contact centre workforce to remote working with very little downtime, including even those organisations who had no remote operation capability before COVID-19.

Many contact centres also experienced unprecedented surges in customer demand due to the volatility and uncertainty of the situation, which impacted all aspects of work and travel. In fact, almost 60 per cent of organisations surveyed reported experiencing a huge surge in call volumes.

Before the pandemic, only an average of 14 per cent of contact centre agents worked remotely, however, at the height of the first wave in June this number had increased five-fold to approximately 72 per cent of the workforce. Most organisations surveyed anticipate that most of their workforce will return to an office but approximately 32 per cent of the workforce will remain remote.

“Although there is greater impetus and urgency now to pursue digital and automation options, our customers recognise the paramount importance of continuing to engage and care for their employees, instead of being hypervigilant about productivity,” Prashanth Sreetharan, Principal Consultant in Strategic Business Consulting ANZ at Genesys, said.

“Creating a flexible, digitally-enabled, and highly-engaged workforce could prove to be the most crucial element for future Business Continuity Planning.”

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