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When the Plans Don't Fit the Situation: #ICMIchat Rundown (March 24, 2020)

Chess board with pieces lined up.

We live in interesting times, but luckily it's business as usual for #ICMIchat. On March 24, Roy Atkinson and our community of contact center and customer experience experts reunited to explore how business continuity plans have helped during the COVID-19 response.

A preview of next week's discussion, "Avoiding Overcommitments: Managing Your Workload," follows this article. Join us on Twitter, March 31 at 1 p.m. Eastern, 10 a.m. Pacific.

Business Continuity Planning

We started by polling the community to see who had business continuity plans in place before they were called on. Rosetta Carrington Lue shared, "Most of the leaders I have spoken to don't have an up-to-date business continuity plan."

A number of our community members noted that some or all of their teams were already working from home on a regular basis, which has made their reaction to the virus much easier.

Jeremy Hyde works in the airline industry, one of the hardest hit by the current travel restrictions. He writes, "We actually had about 60% of our staff already working from home plus a vendor in another site. [I] needed to quickly move to get more people working from home, though. There was no business continuity plan that could handle the volumes we've seen though. Done many things to do our best."

Leslie O'Flahavan put a positive spin on the crisis, stating, "even without a business continuity plan, most contact centers are more prepared--by temperament & experience--to take big changes in stride. Customer service pros absorb the unexpected every day. Yes, there should be a plan, but customer service people are harder to shake than others."

From Planning To Action

Many of our contact center leaders have invoked their business continuity plans in response to the pandemic. Jeremy Watkin shared, "our whole company is [operating under our continuity plan]. At first, it was a test but then quickly became for realsies. It's been cool to see how our top execs and leaders communicate through this process."

Jacob Shields shared his team's experience, saying, "we started migrating individuals about a week ago & finalized yesterday. Things have been going good with more communication over things like Slack! We've been commended for how quick & flexible we've reacted to all of this."

Dave Dyson observed, "We running almost entirely remotely at this point, which is a huge shift from most people working out of offices, in-person sales meetings, and live events."

Preparing to Look Back

Roy asked our community about how they're preparing to update their business continuity plans in response to this disaster. ICMI's own Andrew Gilliam shared this advice to leaders, "While it seems like extra work right now, start making notes for your after-action review. These learning experiences are vital to robust continuity planning."

Troy White adds, "This is a good time to start documenting the lessons learned. Change and problem management should be in the forefront to help with the documentation."

While not directly involved in continuity planning, Jenny Dempsey says, "it makes me think about what opportunities the team can draw up together to share learnings/wisdom for the future."

Jeannie Walters suggested, "creating a collaborative space for those dealing with the frontline especially to share what they're learning, best practices, etc. as we go. That'll turn into important training later!"

Stephanie Thum reminds us, "It's really not too early to start planning your comeback."

Serving Customers Differently

One thing is certain; the way we serve customers during this time has certainly been impacted. We asked how different practitioners have been changing tactics to continue serving customers well. Regular ICMI speaker, Jeff Toister noted that he's experimenting with alternate training formats since many Spring events were postponed.

Leslie suggested that preparedness can come from having good practices every day. She adds, "If I'm able to adapt to rapidly changing needs of my customers, it's because I was doing the work to be versatile & able to change all along. For contact centers, these hectic times prove the value of a current KB, freshly edited templates, & easy access to ongoing training."

Prepared for Anything

To wrap up our chat, we surveyed the crew to find out how they would have prepared differently with more advanced notice. Jeremy W. highlighted the importance of structure for loved ones as a key consideration: "Given that I have 3 little beings swirling around me at the moment, I would have prepared more structured activities ahead of time for them."

Join us next week for an all new discussion hosted by Andrew Gilliam. Tune into #ICMIchat on Twitter, every Tuesday at 1 p.m. Eastern, 10 a.m. Pacific.

#ICMIchat March 31, 2020
Avoiding Overcommitments: Managing Your Workload

Q1: How do you organize and track your work? Have any particular strategies or tools been particularly helpful?

Q2: How do you know what level of commitment is right? How much work is too much?

Q3: What causes us to overextend ourselves or become overcommitted?

Q4: Does overextending ourselves affect the quality of our work?

Q5: Does a long period of overcommitment, overwork affect our health?

Q6: Does a routine of overcommitment and overwork affect workplace culture?

Q7: How does working remotely affect your ability to manage workload and avoid overcommitments?

Q8: How should you share concerns about your workload with your manager or stakeholders? Leaders, should you share concerns about a direct report’s workload with them? How?