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The Importance of Being Channel Enabled: Making Communities Happen During COVID-19 and Beyond

innovAGEING > Media + Blog > Blog > The Importance of Being Channel Enabled: Making Communities Happen During COVID-19 and Beyond
Posted by: Merlin Kong
Category: Blog

If we look ahead to the next five years, one of the biggest challenges for the age services sector is communication – who we communicate with, how we communicate, why we communicate and how often we communicate. Covid-19 has served as a catalyst, it has accelerated our thinking, and it has increased our need to quickly scale and understand the value surrounding communications. 

Now is the time leaders need to think more broadly about how their teams communicate in a way that adds value to their organisations and their customers – into the near and far future. 

As I see it, there are a few major factors we need to address as we move towards a more connected future in our sector – the technology and the customer journey. In both, we need to consider their interoperability. 

By this, I mean the characteristics of a product or system, whose interfaces are completely understood, to work with other products or systems, now or in the future, in either implementation or access, without restrictions. In the future of aged care, systems will need to be innovative, adaptable, fluid and with the ability to be interoperable. 

If the current coronavirus pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that services need to have the capacity to scale and provide continuity. It’s also highlighted that technology has to work across a range of devices – from desktops and laptops, to smartphones and iPads. This will take organisations working collaboratively, not competitively for the good of the end user. 

We need technology that allows organisations and customers to weave in and out across channels they have around them, or use on a regular basis (eg: phone, SMS, video, email). The future is where everything is in sync, and the rewards are considerable for all involved. 

We cannot automatically expect that customers will have only one type of channel they prefer to use at a given time. Channel enablement is key. We must offer our communities (customers and workers), ways to communicate in which they prefer, and it needs to be efficient at the same time. 

The customer journey will need to evolve into a hyper-personalised offering. Consider age services as an intimate and personal service, it just makes sense for this to occur, and now we can. Technology (and desire) enable this. 

We’re already seeing this come to the fore with telehealth services and basic levels of automation, but there’s much further to go. To offset the coldness and often clinical feel of technology, the providers’ services will need to provide warmth, connection and humanity through personalisation. This goes right through the customer journey, from being greeted by name, to offering customised products and services based on personal preferences and where they are on their journey. This is not something that can be done without leveraging technology. 

Imagine picking up the phone and your teams know who it is right-away—what your customer might be calling about and what’s important to that person as an individual. Likewise, imagine a support worker arriving at customer’s house instantly knowing that the customer called the office yesterday to ask about purchasing something additional. 

This is where we need to be, and it’s not science fiction. Parallel industries have been tackling similar challenges for years, and much of this can be applied to help age services providers meet their consumers’ expectations.

So how do we get here?

  • Create an environment supportive of early testing—We talk about this a lot however it is understated. Without experimentation, there are no step changes introduced.  Experimentation by nature assumes positives and negatives. Being a software company, we have no choice but to live in this dichotomy. Without stepping into the unknown, knowing that it is ok to mess it up a little (risk must be balanced against procrastination), we will simply keep spinning wheels and not change the status quo. 
  • Recognise that technologies can, should, and must work together—Expect more from your tools. Give your teams the best-in-breed tools to work with. Empower them, and watch the magic happen. The investment in the right technology pays off when you couple it with the right environment. If you are working with tools that do not connect easily to the world around you, then pause and reconsider your strategy. Long gone are the days when we can get one system for everything.   

The future is bright if we take steps today to ensure our people, teams, processes and tools are aligned, and serve the evolving needs of our customers. We are super optimistic and honoured to be a part of an amazing sector of purpose-driven people catalysing change at scale every day.

Greg Satur is Co-Founder of Hayylo