As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to require persistent lockdowns in countries across the world, the ability for businesses (the ones that can) to prove their agility and resilience has become evermore pressing. Firms have had to swiftly shift to distributed workforces at scale, adopt online collaboration tools and respond to changing customer needs.
Whilst the health of people is obviously the core issue during this difficult time, it is also interesting to observe the changing nature of business, the impact the novel Coronavirus has had on companies and teams, as well as how it might impact long-term operations going forward. We at diginomica have been trying to provide useful insights and commentary on this enterprise readers, which can be found on our dedicated COVID-19 resource page.
This week I got to speak to insurance software provider CDL, which is based in the UK and employs over 600 staff. As one can imagine, the insurance industry is under particular strain during this pandemic, which has meant that CDL has had to be particularly responsive to its customers (insurers) needs.
CDL actually already had a business continuity plan and system in place, which included a plan for pandemics. This meant that the company was quick to respond to the lockdown requirements and actually pre-empted the government’s decision by approximately 2 weeks.
The firm, according to Adrian Japp, ServiceNow and Quality Manager at CDL, has benefited hugely from being cloud-first, people-focused and already having a working from home policy in place.
CDL uses ServiceNow extensively and has so since 2017. Japp said that CDL is essentially a service management company, in that it provides, services and maintains software - as well as all the services around that software - for customers. However, the use of ServiceNow has been particularly beneficial for the company in its response to COVID-19, where it has taken advantage of ServiceNow’s COVID-19 plugins, including a self-report app for employees.
On the company’s core uses of ServiceNow for its traditional operations, Japp explains:
We needed a tool to give us all of those rich feature sets that enable us to provision our customers better. To provide our services better. To enhance our service to our aim of becoming a world class service. So for all of our customer support interactions we use ServiceNow. For all of those service delivery functions - from incident, to problem management, to service catalogue, to small projects in the area of customer requests, and change management as well.
We also provisioned the platform for internal workflows as well, between departments.
But the key component of ServiceNow, the thing that really gives us the win, is the customer service portal. A couple of months after we went live, we launched customer service portal on the web to an eager audience of customers. Within two months we reduced our service desk call volume by 50%, which is a significant saving for us. And at the same time it increased the responses in terms of improving customer sentiment as well.
CDL’s COVID-19 response
As noted above, Japp says that most of CDL’s operations rely on cloud-based systems and that its intent as an organisation is to be as adaptable, scalable and available as possible, no matter what the circumstances. The company was clearly able to switch swiftly to remote working at scale and operate as normal for its customers. In fact, CDL has been reaching out to customers to offer them advice on how to do the same because the business continuity plans were so smoothly implemented.
In addition to its traditional use of the ServiceNow platform, CDL also took advantage of the vendor’s COVID-19 response offerings. In particular, CDL is using ServiceNow’s Emergency Self Report app. This is giving the company the ability to monitor data on its employee capacity and keep track of how employees are faring, given their new reality. Japp explains:
We have quite a well formed structure of management and line managers from top to bottom throughout the company. So, equipping all the line managers with the tools they need to make sure that they can contact their teams and keep in touch with them every day, and record where they are, was key to what we were doing.
From a business continuity perspective, as part of a team, we need to know an exact status of how the business is doing and how many staff are available to work at any one time. So having something centralised in ServiceNow that people are using every day is a really useful tool.
Japp explains that CDL uses the Self Report plugin differently to how it was originally intended, in that instead of waiting for employees to self report, managers are using it to reach out to employees and find out if they are having any problems, symptoms or issues. This doesn’t just include reporting on Coronavirus symptoms, but anything from childcare challenges, to stress, to holidays and general illness. He says:
We are a people first company, so we take the initiative to contact our staff, rather than them contacting us. We recognise that it’s a highly stressful situation for some and that some people might not report all of the issues they are having. We use that as a tool for our line managers to make sure they have a list of their team and they record the status of their team, to make sure we manage those staff appropriately.
It’s about how we adequately support them. We measure quite a few different things within the plugin to make sure that we have got that complete picture. We have got trend analysis on that and we use that information in our meetings on business continuity, which happen three times a week.
Japp notes that managers may well be facing an increased workload given the new working environment, as it requires a closer monitoring of how employees are faring during the health crisis. The ServiceNow tools are helping CDL with that, he says, including the ability to add case notes for each employee during video conference calls.
I asked Japp whether there has been any negative response to the use of the tools from employees, given that it may be perceived as increased monitoring of staff. However, Japp argues that the use of such tools are for the benefit of employees and that a strong company culture has meant they’ve been welcomed. He says:
We are a people first company and our staff are all bought into that. We have quite close contact with all our staff through our line managers, so there isn’t an issue with that. All of our employees know that we need to know where they are, how they’re doing. It’s not a big brother initiative at all, it’s for the care and wellbeing of our employees.