Bosch Home Appliances Head of Customer Service Jaclyn Tay says when Singapore went into lockdown, customer service colleagues found themselves thrust into the forefront to help maintain business-as-usual. Tay thanks Bosch technicians whom were at the front lines during the pandemic, putting their health and safety at risk every day, for every visit.
By Jaclyn Tay
When the world stopped and countries went into lockdown, those in customer service roles found themselves thrust into the forefront, forced to keep the world revolving. As home-bound Singaporeans turned to the latest baking and cooking crazes, scoring sourdough, whipping up curries and stews, washing their clothing and linens more often to maintain better hygiene, many found themselves relying on home appliances more than ever before.
The popularity of home appliances rose during this period, and so did house calls seeking repairs and installations. Our technicians have been at the front lines during this pandemic putting hygiene and safety concerns at the forefront of every visit.
These everyday heroes continued interacting with the public despite growing fears of the virus escalating, gaining a unique perspective on the importance of being kind to one another while also learning to be extremely hygiene-conscious. Here are some of the key points our front-line customer service teammates learnt as we navigated the crisis:
Serving with empathy
Serving the public during the pandemic has taught us humanity, empathy, and compassion. As our technicians entered people’s homes during this time, we have seen first-hand just how others are coping with the pandemic. Some people had been made redundant, losing their jobs and financial security, while others were forced to work full-time, splitting responsibilities with their partners to take care of their children and for some, their aged parents. Others living on their own struggled with isolation, our technicians offering their only form of human interaction in two months.
United in facing the same difficult crisis together, we adjusted our work habits to better check in on our teammates around us and their mental well-being. We worked to provide a positive environment for our technicians so they could provide much-needed support to our customers. Many people found solace in cooking and cleaning during this time, and we wanted to be sure to help them find whatever form of therapeutic relief we could.
When Singapore shut down to contain the virus, many people were confined to their homes unable to leave unless it was absolutely deemed necessary. Frontline technicians, however, put themselves at risk and were in an increasingly vulnerable position as they went into people’s homes to repair their heavily-used and much-needed appliances.
We’ve all grown accustomed to donning masks, using sanitisers, and sometimes gloves to remain safe. Our technicians also underwent regular temperature checks and social distancing protocols to ensure both parties felt comfortable as technicians entered homes.
In Singapore, 89% of residents noting that hygiene is extremely important following the pandemic, according to a Bosch survey. Safeguarding our employees and customers was our first and foremost priority. Working practices had to be significantly adjusted to ensure we could provide empathy and care during the crisis while maintaining proper hygiene. Still, house visits and walk-in repairs dipped during Circuit Breaker as we shifted our approach to one that is more virtual by nature.
Following the extension of Singapore’s Circuit Breaker, we found ourselves in a tough position as people increasingly relied on their home appliances, leading to an increase in repair calls. We had to limit our service capacity for our personnel and customers’ safety, and needed to adapt to the ever-changing landscape.
To better serve our customers during this time, we decided to increase our digital capabilities and offerings. We rolled out a new solution that allowed Service Engineers to seamlessly access information and process payments for repairs, spare parts, cleaning products, and brand new appliances. This provided our customers with both online and in-person purchasing options, and further allowed our engineers to swiftly move from one service visit to another.
We also transformed our customer care workshops into dynamic virtual events, featuring our demonstrators who walked through how to maintain and repair dishwashers, washing machines, and other home appliances. This allowed us to directly engage with our customers in a safe and personal setting, while also sharing general tips for those who may not have a Bosch home appliance.
Once the Circuit Breaker rules eased, we saw the number of house visits and walk-in repairs increase by up to 38%. The numbers in July further increased and peaked for the year. As we look ahead towards a year of recovery, it is important we take the lessons we learnt in 2020 and continue to apply them to our everyday lives. Businesses should alter their customer service approach and offerings to truly meet the customer’s needs while serving with empathy to strengthen relationships with the consumer.
We should all practice patience with those who are serving in customer service positions during the pandemic, who are risking their health to make others feel secure during a time of uncertainty.
While this year has been unequivocally difficult, the lessons we have learnt in 2020 are invaluable, and looking ahead we should all remember to lead with empathy and be a little more human.