Managing the impact of COVID 19 – our experience so far…
From pandemic plans to PPE, furlough to social distancing, in just three months, COVID 19 has introduced the world to a whole new lexicon and for many millions an entirely new way of life and work.
With the majority of our clients operating in the health and travel sectors, the Coronavirus effect has been enormous for Sesui – a period of unprecedented demand and accelerated innovation – with an acute awareness of just how essential cloud contact centre services are in supporting those on the healthcare frontline.
Anticipating the impact
We were all reading the headlines but when our new Specialist Clinical Director Wayne Llewelyn began to receive scores of messages from his large network of medical friends and contacts, about the effect that COVID-19 was about to have on the UK, our team knew that a dramatic shift was imminent. Anticipating the impact this global pandemic would have at home was key to Sesui meeting the considerable challenges ahead.
Before any government guidelines were given or lockdowns imposed, the team shut down the office and used Sesui’s own cloud communications technology to fully shift to working from home. With a solid team structure in place, the company could focus on the challenge ahead.
In the third week of March, with the government advising the public not to visit GPs or A&E with any suspected COVID cases but to call 111 instead, the phone lines were inundated across the country.
One of our key health clients London Central West Unscheduled Care Collaborative (LCW), one of the capital’s largest providers of integrated urgent care services, faced unprecedented demand.
Fortunately Sesui had just completed the migration of LCWs service to a pure cloud solution, so it was immediately able to manage nearly four times the normal amount of 111 callers to LCW, handling up to 600 calls per minute. To the health provider, every one of those calls was a critical connection to a concerned patient, who may have needed urgent medical attention. The need for our service and technology to perform under pressure was crucial.
At this critical point, Sesui’s technology architecture was enabling us to manage demand despite the considerable increase in traffic. We could see that cloud based systems were being tested nationally, and any service disruptions at such a vital time would be disastrous, so Sesui chose to take decisive action.
With well-established supplier relationships in place, we were able to work with our carrier partners to substantially increase our network capacity over one weekend; reinforcing and maintaining the high level of resilience and reliability our CTO Manveer Mangat prides us on:
“We have always invested in our technology, with robust back-up systems already in place, but having the added capacity meant we could absorb increased demand whilst continuing existing service levels and important maintenance and monitoring of all our systems.“
Navigating the shifting COVID 19 landscape
Whilst Manveer may have been welcoming some breathing space, COVID 19 continued to test Sesui’s Customer Support Team further than they had ever been tested before. In March, the company saw a 40% increase in customer interactions as our clients navigated the shifting Covid landscape.
Customer Support Manager James Hookins and his team faced a myriad of new demands:
“As the pandemic response evolved, so did our job. As they trained new COVID teams, our NHS clients particularly those who provide 111 services needed ever-changing Coronavirus messaging and call routing flows. They told us what they needed the service to do and we were able to quickly design systems to best serve patients and direct users to the right parts of the NHS. It’s been a lot of work for our dedicated team, getting up to speed with every new service so that we can provide the high standard of support Sesui promises 24/7.”
Once the Government lockdown was in place, many companies now faced the everyday challenges of maintaining services when the workforce and user had been told to stay at home.
Flexible working innovations have been at the heart of Sesui’s business for the past decade, so this really felt like our time to step forward and help different sectors find a solution.
Not surprisingly the most pressing demand came from our health and travel clients. Having spent several years developing remote cloud call management for NHS Out of Hours providers, we were well placed to quickly adapt existing services to allow GPs to facilitate secure phone and video consultations. A good example of this was at LCW where Sesui enabled nearly 900 frontline call handlers and clinicians to have access to video.
Meanwhile, with one of our largest travel clients needing urgent assistance with the UK Government’s repatriation program, in just 2 weeks we had designed, developed and released a virtual call queueing system to overcome the hurdles of expensive global mobile charges. A rapid response, which CEO Lee Bryant is proud helped many thousands of travellers get in touch and get home:
“Our client was impressed that we were able to quickly design a new service for them. It was only possible because we have complete control over our own technology and platforms, and can therefore move quickly, to address client needs. We have great technology but it’s the combination of that and our committed team working together that enables us to deliver the solutions our customers need – I am very proud of that.”
New partnerships and projects
With a reputation for reliable, resilient and robust services during the initial COVID 19 period we were soon being contacted by new clients, with one of London’s leading teaching hospitals asking Sesui to facilitate flexible working across numerous departments, including their Macmillan Cancer Support helplines.
Going forward, Sesui will also be at the forefront of modernising access to healthcare, providing the secure call and video technology for the game-changing platform Doc Abode. The platform aims to match all available clinicians with patients needing care, an innovation that will tackle the traditional problem of scarcity of doctors available to work during out of hours periods – even more of an issue with the current Covid 19 demands.
Bob Ricketts CBE, Director of Commissioning Support Services and Market Development for NHS England:
“At this key time of crisis, digital innovations have an important role to play and products like Doc Abode absolutely fit the need both in terms of being able to communicate immediately to get resources but also provide a longer term contribution around the GP workforce crisis.”
Having worked with the team developing Doc Abode for several years, Sesui were able to tailor a brand new system for Doc Abode and one of their key users a leading Out of Hours service provider in the North West of England.
The COVID crisis has brought the need for these new solutions to the fore, and it’s an area Sesui’s Head of Commercial Oli White is passionate about:
“With such huge demand on the NHS, we need to look at ways of maximising the available hours of all medical staff. Innovation, and listening to user feedback will be key to ensuring the system can cope. Sesui is working hard with all its partners to improve services all the time, we don’t sit still and hope it works, we observe what’s happening with existing clients and ask the questions that will ensure we are at the forefront of developing a service that will adapt and improve the way people access healthcare for good.”
A month into the government lockdown Sesui continues to support all its clients during this unique and challenging period, whilst working from home ourselves.
And whilst our freedom to go out, visit family and friends and travel will return, the way we all work may have changed forever – it’s one of Sesui’s key goals that our flexible solutions will allow more companies to adapt and embrace that future.