Coronavirus is probably all you’re reading about right now. Businesses all over the world are understandably concerned about how it will impact them. At Ongair, we've commenced working from home as a means to avoid physical interactions such as meetings and travel that can lead to exposure or spread of the virus. During this period we're committed to ensuring the same levels of support for our customers and wanted to share some of the tools and tips we've put in place to make this work.
If your teams are working from home, you'll need to make the most of technology to ensure your customers can reach you. Thankfully most communication platforms are un-affected at this point so your usual channels should work, albeit with some challenges. Depending on your setup, Voice might be the most difficult to offer remotely but it's certainly possible with IP telephony. Check out our partners Node Africa, Africa's Talking and Twilio for cloud-based voice connectivity solutions that are remotely accessible.
If you are already using Ongair your customers will be able to reach you on WhatsApp, WeChat, Facebook (Pages and Messenger), Twitter, Telegram, Viber & SMS. Your teams can also work remotely on their personal devices on laptop and mobile, provided they have an internet connection. During this period, we're extending our free trial from the usual 2 weeks to one month to help businesses keep in touch with their customers.
Physical meetings are strongly discouraged during this pandemic, but thankfully there's lots of great tools out there if your meeting can't be solved by an email. We're using Zoom for our sales and other online meetings. They have both free and paid packages for one to one and group calls. In case of challenges due to traffic and overloading you can try Google Hangouts, Skype or WhatsApp video calls. There's also a great conference call bingo game to play to keep things light-hearted.
To keep communication flowing internally, we're using a variety of tools (which we use everyday) to make sure business is going on as usual. We're using Slack for our daily standup meetings and general messaging, Trello for our Sprint boards and task management and Google Docs for our documentation. Our tech team has a myriad of tools they use for development, support and deployment (Github, Jenkins, e.t.c) that would probably require a post of their own. The good news is that most of what you already use should work especially if its accessible externally or via a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
Chat Bots have a unique opportunity at this time to provide great first responses and self-service functions. We've already seen health and government institutions launch Covid-19 chat bots on WhatsApp and Messenger. While AI chatbots may require significant efforts to build and deploy, you can build simple menu driven bots using Auto-responders to triage and provide responses to frequently asked questions by customers. We've recently updated our Auto-responders function in Ongair to help build complex interactions easily on the dashboard.
During this period, security remains a key consideration to take note of as you formulate your work from home strategy. Internal systems that you need to get your work accomplished are at the greatest risk when exposed externally so ensure your security policy and how your handle sensitive customer information have been well thought out and tested.
Stay safe and keep responding to your customers.