Businesses are going through an unprecedented and unpredictable time – almost overnight, whole industries have shifted from being in offices to working from home. We’re all trying to work within this new reality as it happens, and this type of change brings with it unknowns for our customers. During our most recent ‘CX moment’ chat, we talked to Slack’s Customer Experience VP Ali Rayl about how to help customers and employees adapt. Here are some of the highlights.
Recognising the new reality
Some people have never worked remotely and now they’re having to learn as they go. But even if you’re a more sophisticated Slack user, there’s still a learning curve when working from home during a pandemic. It’s more important than ever to connect with customers and be empathetic. ‘It’s been interesting talking to our customers,’ says Rayl. ‘I think the big difference now is that people aren’t curious about Slack – they really need it. Now it’s, "I have to work this out by this afternoon – please help me get set up." Slack is adaptable and flexible, so we’re helping them get the benefit they need from the product.’
Helping teams connect during a crisis
All of a sudden, new teams are popping up to collaborate. ‘People from all around the world are spinning up new Slack workspaces to work together,’ says Rayl. People are coming together remotely to research the virus. Groups of 3D printer enthusiasts are working with manufacturers to find ways of making ventilators.
But even with the uptick in global communication, it’s important to recognise that people may not be as productive as usual. Slack makes employees’ health a priority. ‘This isn’t proper remote work,’ says Rayl. ‘It’s working from home during a crisis. First and foremost, we’re telling employees to take care of themselves and take care of their families. We’re making sure that people are taking time off. And then beyond that, once we have a healthy employee base, there are all these opportunities to tackle.’
Keeping up with questions
It’s a new way of working for a lot of people – you can’t just pop over to your colleague’s desk to ask them a question. This holds true within organisations as well, where people are getting used to the idea of asynchronous communication. Rayl says that you don’t have to be on Slack all the time or keep up with every channel constantly, and she shares her own best practice for knowing what’s important.
‘There are two things – one is my team. If somebody needs something from me urgently, then that’s my responsibility. Often, my response is "Do you need this now or can it wait until Monday?" It’s a genuine question. I let my team know, "It’s OK for you to ask, it’s OK to DM. You really have to be explicit about what you need."’
Making communications count
It can be a challenge to manage communications to a remote workforce – and it’s equally challenging for employees. Rayl says that one way to cut down on the noise is to have a dedicated announcements channel on Slack for company-wide communications and to make sure that employees know they’re expected to read that channel. ‘And another big thing is – only say it once. Don’t announce it to managers and then ask managers to tell their teams – say it once, say it in the same voice every time. This cuts down the feeling that you’ve seen the same thing 10 different times.’