Creating Meaningful Connections During the COVID-19 Pandemic

By Merijn te Booij, Genesys Chief Marketing Officer 

It seems that, in an instant, everything has changed. The COVID-19 pandemic — and the precautions we’re taking globally to stop the spread — have replaced socializing with social distancing, in-person outings with virtual check-ins. But that doesn’t mean we can’t still find those moments connected. We just have to find different ways to make them.

A friend of mine recently celebrated a birthday. Instead of throwing a party or inviting friends out for a drink, she biked throughout the city to do a “birthday cake-fueled drive-by” past friends’ homes. Maintaining a safe distance, we all shouted, cheered, held up signs and wished her a happy birthday from our porches. Learning to pivot, think outside the proverbial box and create those connected moments in new ways during these times actually created a more meaningful experience than she would have had otherwise.

In these times of isolation, we need to come together now more than ever for our families, employees and customers. Enabling your employees to continue to work safely from their homes while still giving your customers the personalized, caring and empathetic experience they want makes all the difference. At Genesys, like many companies, we’ve gone fully remote with many more meetings occurring on Zoom video.

The power of technologies like cloud and artificial intelligence (AI) are further empowering people around the globe to connect in ways that weren’t possible years ago. By relying on the speed, agility and flexibility of cloud, companies can quickly — and securely — set up new remote contact centers to meet the needs of their customers and ensure business continuity. While it’s not “business as usual” in the true sense of the word, being there for customers — listening, knowing their situations, giving them a one-on-one personalized experience and answering their questions — during their most critical moments offers comfort in this time of upheaval.

In This Together, Helping One Another
The COVID-19 pandemic has also brought our attention to organizations that might be feeling more of a strain than usual — organizations that, day in and day out, help those in need. And now, more than ever, the numbers of people needing their help is growing.

The Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana, Inc., helps feed hundreds of thousands of Indiana residents each year. Gleaners supply items to hunger relief agencies and schools throughout 21 counties in central and southeastern Indiana. However, during this crisis, the Gleaners Food Bank was receiving tons of calls from homebound seniors and quarantined residents in need — and that was overwhelming not only its supplies but also its hardworking volunteers and its phone systems.

When the Genesys Indianapolis office team learned that the demand on the Gleaners pantry had tripled in less than three weeks, they stepped in to help. The team hosted a Virtual Food Drive for Gleaners, which allowed Genesys employees to remain at home without risking their health or the health of others — all while raising over $10,000 in just 24 hours.

And assistance for the food bank went beyond monetary. To manage growing demand within the community, Gleaners deployed the Genesys CloudTM platform. Within five days, the food bank performed a soft launch with Genesys Cloud — and it’s currently evaluating how to manage incoming requests with only one employee and a couple volunteers helping to call back those in need and log orders.

I’m astonished with the fact that one moment — learning that a single organization is in need during this time — can connect an entire community. During this time that many are calling “the new normal,” it’s encouraging to see people going above and beyond to show empathy and offer a hand.

What’s Around the Next Turn
While it’s been disappointing to see events being canceled and postponed, including the Olympics, the Indianapolis 500 and numerous happenings, there’s still a lot to look forward to. And many of those athletes and artists affected are using this additional time to hone their respective crafts.

As you might know, Genesys has teamed with IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe. James’ focus, courage and empathy made him a perfect match with Genesys. And we know he’ll be ready to hit the pavement at full speed once we’re beyond this. We’re incredibly excited to watch him.  

While no one is certain when it’ll happen, we will overcome the COVID-19 pandemic and return to the “old normal.” But one thing that is certain: The “old normal” will be anything but that. Most of us will be able to resume life as usual — commuting into an office for work, running with friends, playdates for our children and visiting with family. But beyond this, things likely will be vastly different.

I’m hoping that once we reach the other side of this, we’ll all carry a lesson learned as regular life resumes: Take the time to appreciate the little things you might have taken for granted before this “new normal” took hold. Slow down. Appreciate each other. Practice empathy. Help each other out when you can. And, of course, wash your hands. Remember: We’re all in this together.