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Putting Customer Experience First in the Hybrid World

Trust and technology are key to succeeding from any location

TAMPA, FL / ACCESSWIRE / April 5, 2023 / World-class customer service and personal relationships remain essential to success as many companies continue to embrace hybrid work, according to experts at Kforce.

Job seekers are adamant about their desire for hybrid and remote work opportunities in the post-COVID era, data from the solutions firm repeatedly shows. And many companies are committed to this new path. A recent AT&T study found the hybrid work model is expected to grow from 42% in 2021 to 81% in 2024. And according to FlexJobs' Employee Engagement Report, 48% of employers are maintaining some form of remote work for their workforce.

Employees worldwide have proven many jobs can be performed and mastered outside an office. But this flexibility can't come at the expense of customer experience, especially in client-facing industries, like sales and consulting, Kforce President of Regional Services John Megally said.

In order to remain successful in the hybrid world, particularly in a constrained economic climate, companies must strike a balance: providing flexibility to their people while continuing to prioritize customer experience, interaction and relationships.

"People are thriving with the flexibility and choice they've gained in this new world of work," Kforce President and CEO Joe Liberatore said. "Now, the emphasis is on protecting those newfound benefits while advancing the meaningful work being done at companies across the country."

Kforce, which specializes in technology and other professional staffing services, surveyed job seekers about their ideal work models four times between February 2022 and February 2023. The preference stayed consistent, with 88% to 93% of respondents nationwide favoring remote or hybrid work.

A majority of respondents did not want set in-office schedules. Instead, they want the ability to work 100% remotely, using the office only when there is a clear benefit to in-person work. Data like this helped shaped the firm's office-occasionalSM work model, where associates can succeed from anywhere.

So how do companies walk the balance of keeping their people engaged and happy while also providing the top-tier customer service their clients have come to depend on? Experts at Kforce say the distinction comes down to prioritizing the work not the location.

"It's ‘office occasional,' not ‘customer occasional,'" Chief Operations Officer Kye Mitchell said of the firm's hybrid work model. "Our people understand that the needs of our clients and customers come first, regardless from where they work."

Some jobs require relationships that often thrive with in-person interactions, Megally said. In those scenarios, associates may need to prioritize client visits and sit-downs to better understand a client's desires while providing custom-tailored solutions for their most pressing needs.

"People are going to do business with people they trust," Megally said. "You build that trust in a variety of ways - consistent communication, face-to-face interactions, being accountable and reliable. All those tools are important, but the time spent together in-person really helps us understand each other and what drives us."

Each meeting should be intentional with a clear purpose, such as an important update or new idea. Once that trust is established, other parts of the job can be performed just as well from home, a coffee shop or wherever a person is most productive - as long as the company has invested in the tools and technology its people need to succeed.

Leaders also need to focus on empowering their people, Liberatore said. When associates are trusted to design their own schedules, they're empowered to take charge of their careers. Leaders can help with this by using intentional touchpoints to set expectations with their teams, but not overwhelming people's schedules with virtual meetings and check-ins. By giving people the space and trust to accomplish their tasks outside of the office, managers free up their teams to focus on the purposeful, in-person aspects that matter most.

The office may be occasional, but the business is not, Mitchell said. Each employee needs to evaluate their day and determine where and how they will be most successful. Some days that will be at home. Others it will be on-site at a client's office or at a lunch getting to know a new hire or business partner. Creating that right balance will determine how fulfilled and successful each team members is.

Kforce has seen this play out with its own office-occasional work model, which it rolled out in 2022 to more than 30 offices nationwide. Associates choose where they work and are given the flexibility and trust to shape their days. 96% of the firm said they feel empowered, supported and connected in this new model.

"Ultimately, we want everything we do to be purposeful," Liberatore said. "It's not about checking a box or meeting a quota. It's about providing the best service and the highest quality of work while staying engaged and fulfilled."

About Kforce
Kforce is a solutions firm specializing in technology and other professional staffing services. Each year, we provide career opportunities for approximately 30,000 highly skilled professionals on a temporary, consulting or direct-hire basis. These experts work with roughly 3,000 clients, including a significant majority of the Fortune 500, helping them conquer challenges and meet their digital transformation goals. Together, we reimagine how business gets done. For more than 60 years, we've achieved our clients' objectives by combining a KNOWLEDGEforce®-our namesake-with flexibility and an unmatched drive for excellence.

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SOURCE: Kforce, Inc.

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