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Lessons Learned from Global Customer Support Services: The Transition to a Remote Workforce

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We are living in unprecedented times. However, the critical role energy and water service providers play throughout this pandemic is as important as ever.

With COVID-19, our lives were turned upside down overnight. And like many of you, Itron’s Global Customer Support Services team had to go from our well-established, comfortable routine to a fully-functioning yet socially-distanced remote workforce at the flip of a switch. As we did, we learned a few lessons about what worked, what didn’t and what we needed to re-engineer to ensure our team is here for you with the level of support you know and expect from Itron.

Going Remote: What We’ve Learned
Itron’s Global Support Services team is used to being on the phone, answering emails and meeting with customers virtually—that’s foundational to our job and our commitment to you. We’ve even provided our employees with remote work options for years. None of this has changed during the pandemic.

What has changed is where we’re getting the work done during the pandemic. Conference rooms are now kitchen tables. Virtual meetings are still virtual, but with way more creative backgrounds. We have evolved our on-premise Automated Call Distribution solution to be a complete cloud-based solution, eliminating the need for hard wired phones and in-house reliability issues. This ensures you have the best experience when you are on the phone with Itron’s support engineers. With the move to a cloud-based solution, we can use the full capabilities of our computers, headsets and external speakers to assist customers every day.

Here’s a snapshot of what our team has learned so far while working remotely:
  • Get to know the new tech. In the office, colleagues had a certain setup for everything—and great IT support staff down the hall. Transitioning to a home office means all that well-established technology is now in your personal space and might function a little differently. So what can you do?
    • Logging in to systems may be different, may take a little longer or may need extra security measures. Make sure you understand and create a checklist for how it all comes together, and keep it close at hand for troubleshooting when something goes awry.
    • When you can, embrace the webcam. It’s not ideal in every instance, but keeping a personal connection isn’t just good for others, it’s good for you, too.
    • If you notice slowdowns or complete drops in internet connectivity, check the router—and then check in with the kids.
  • Stay connected. Yes, internet connectivity is critical to do your job remotely. But while you’re remote, family or pets at home also need some connection time. Make a point to find time throughout your day to check in with them. At Itron, our teams have each other covered to help make this all happen seamlessly and without interruption to you, our customers.
  • Listen more—don’t just hear. We’re all on the phone and in virtual meetings more than ever before. For some, it has been an easy transition—or even a welcome one. But for others, being distanced from peers and “normal” life can start to weigh on them over time. Listen for signs that something is off and be sure to reach out one-on-one to check in. Sometimes a personal touch is all that’s needed.
  • The routine’s the thing. When working remotely, experts recommend setting and maintaining workday hours that are as consistent as possible. It‘s also a great idea to take regular breaks and refocus your attention somewhere else, so you can come back re-energized and ready to tackle whatever’s in front of you.
  • Take your vitamins. Speaking of energy, a little sunshine (vitamin D) and exercise (vitamin E) go a long way toward keeping you engaged, refreshed and able to keep up with the demands of your work-from-home life. Be sure to take care of yourself so you can be there for others.

What have you learned while working remotely? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Whether we’re working from our homes around the world or at an office, Itron’s Global Customer Support Services team is focused on responsiveness and quickly getting you the answers you need. Contact us today.