The digital balancing act

This week with much of the talk, and data, pointing to a potential third wave of cases many of us have been thinking about what happens next.

Certainly, we are all fed up with lockdowns and being stuck at home, however running the risk of mass infections again also seems a like backward step.

No answers yet and we need to monitor closely to see how the situation evolves. however is it time to think about how we manage all this sustainably going forward? As in most things, it is probably not one extreme or the other, but a balanced, somewhere in-between. I have a couple more office trips in the works, planned for the next few weeks, so it is top of mind. COVID tests at the ready again I think.

On the topic of work life balance there was also discussion around out of hours emails this week too. In France work emails, out of hours, are frowned up and actually legislated against and there is discussion about whether we should have something similar in the UK.

There was plenty of conversation on how such a scheme could (or couldn’t) work. And, with many of us do catch up on emails at the start or end of the day in order to concentrate on interacting with people when they are available, this would be a tricky behavioural change. Any legislation is likely to be hard to enforce.

However, these days, it is not just email. In fact, the focus on email seems somewhat dated, with most of us are now communicating on platforms such as Teams, Whatsapp or Slack ( or discord eg here 🙂 ).

These do have the benefit of being easier to turn off, although during work hours also seem to command an even faster response time… and the worst feature… you can see if they have been read, and if the recipient has not responded… its a recipe for stress right there! It does seem like these should be included too.

What we have found during COVID is that digital working can tend to extend the day. My commute time in particular, has been absorbed into working time, and work-life seems to be more of a blend than it has ever been before.

In one sense this has been extremely helpful, enabling flexibility like never before and extra time when needed to get things done. However, at the extreme, it can become a problem.

It seems there is a growing awareness that we need to build some balance back going forward…. this in itself is probably not a bad thing.

Have a good weekend everyone

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Extendy time is back…

It is amazing what a burst of sunny weather does, things definitely feel like they are getting more back to normal.

It is great, but for one thing. Once again time has evaporated. With the starting of work travel, activities, clubs, seeing friends and relatives all of a sudden, the ornamental hermit life is over, and diaries are once again chock-a-block.

And, with all this activity also comes the challenge to try to fit everything in… extendy hours are back too.

But there is a problem… it can all get tiring and you know you are tired when the first thing you think in the morning is “I am going to have an early night tonight”… maybe it is time to get a bit more balance I think.

Off for the rest of the long weekend… maybe a bit of a snooze!

Have a good week everyone

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Chatting away….

Staring into the long weekend at the end of a long week we are all hoping the weather improves. The start of this year has been a long haul and judging by the volume of traffic on the road, everyone seems to be wanting to get away for the weekend.

I have been out, but my sojourn to the office last week, had the odd effect of making this week, by comparison, feel somewhat flat. It was been busy, but once again there was less variety in the day. It was all a bit like returning from holiday, to face an overflowing inbox and a stack of things to do by Tuesday…. very productive mind you and a few good discussions to keep things interesting.

Omni-Channel

This week seemed to be all about exploring the omni-channel experience. Digital processes have become increasingly important in the last few months; self serve portals and webchat being good examples. Many of which have been overlayed on existing processes, now needing to be integrated and blended with existing voice.

An automation opportunity? maybe. Driven by customers habits? almost certainly, but there is another aspect to this too which you notice when meeting people in person – just how much more information is available, how the volume and quality of information changes by the communication channel. For example.

  • Email – largely one way, similar to a letter, relatively cheap
  • 2 way chat – a little more interactive, you pick up more nuance, but still tends to be short-form communication. Little more expensive
  • Voice calls– Interactive, extra information from not just what is said, but how it is said. Extra context and extra cost
  • Video calls – Facial expressions now in the mix. It is not just how it is said but now what did it look like too. The conversation still constrained like a call.
  • Live in-person – A full flood of information, mixing in contextual environmental information, and micro-expressions that we all see and use, even when we are not aware of it. Not constrained and the most expensive.

So as much as we think about channels in terms of cost, we also need to think in terms of information needing to be gathered. Ie not using high-cost channels for transactional interactions, but absolutely using them for those where we need to gather more complex information. And, each of these interactions can be interwoven, automating transactional elements before bringing in human interaction when needed. The true omnichannel experience I suppose. (There is much more to come on this soon in a couple of future video interviews).

FCA guidance on outcomes

The other discussion this week was around the new FCA proposal on creating stronger protection for consumers in financial markets.

Although fair treatment of customers is already top of mind with 6 key outcomes, this ups the ante further, proposing a new overriding principle for treatment of consumers… either

Option 1: ‘A firm must act to deliver good outcomes for retail clients’, or
Option 2: ‘A firm must act in the best interests of retail clients’

FCA – A new Consumer Duty

Feedback is needed by 31 July 2021. With COVID and pandemic fallout also hanging over us, expect more from this and quickly I would think.

Other key stories

Have a good weekend everyone.

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