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Staying Connected Through COVID-19

Published April 17, 2020

To our valued clients,

As all of us continue to evolve the way we live and work while adjusting to the new normal, we wanted to keep you up to date with how your customers and members are responding to our outreaches and how SQM is working to close the gap that social distancing and digital communications can create.

It’s been SQM’s experience that the best time to get customer feedback is when there is a lot of uncertainty in the marketplace. Clearly with COVID-19, that is the case. We have offered to all clients – free of charge on email and live surveys – the opportunity to ask customers and members if their inquiry relates to COVID-19. We will be sharing benchmarking data about the frequency of COVID-19 contacts and organizations’ ability to handle COVID-19 calls in the near future.

We shared in a previous update that we have received comments from our survey process about how your customers appreciate the opportunity to complete a survey because it reduces the feeling of social isolation and provides them an opportunity to discuss the experiences they are having with you as well as talk about COVID-19. As a result of these positive sentiments and higher proportions of people at home, we are experiencing an increase in response rates (willingness to complete surveys) across our client-base. As an example, response rates for live surveys have improved by 20% since January. Additionally, we are seeing that customers are wanting to stay on the phone with us for longer and are typically taking an additional 30 seconds to chat with our Telephone Survey Representatives (TSRs) because the customer values the opportunity to connect with someone. These customer sentiments have led us to provide additional training, coaching, and scripting to our TSRs to provide an empathetic response to those in need.

The value of connecting with others has led SQM to change the way we communicate with you moving forward. To enhance our communications with you and regain a sense of personal connection, we have transitioned our organization to a new digital communication platform using Microsoft Teams. As part of this transition we will now be communicating with our video chat/webcam turned on by default. We have found within our internal teams that the addition of video chat enriches the experience of connecting online. Although it can initially be uncomfortable being on camera, we truly believe it can make for a better experience and we would be happy to have you join us in closing the social distance gap. We’d like to encourage you to join us on video as often as possible and as much as you feel comfortable.

During these uncertain times, we encourage you to continue to seek customer feedback and ask the COVID-19 question to gain additional insights that can be very helpful. We hope that you remain safe, healthy, and happy in this challenging time. We look forward to staying connected with you and greeting you with a smile!

Sincerely,

Mike Demarais

Mike Desmarais
Founder and CEO of SQM Group

Response to COVID-19 - A Message from SQM's CEO

Published March 20, 2020

To our valued clients,

As the COVID-19 situation continues to develop we want to keep you up to date with our ongoing efforts to ensure our employees, their families, and our communities are safe while we continue to provide consistent, high-quality service to our clients. Here is the latest on our COVID-19 response efforts and the feedback we have been hearing from your customers on their experiences with your organization.

SQM has now successfully moved all professional services staff to a work-from-home model, while our software developers have been able to quickly create and deploy a work-from-home solution for our frontline staff. We are happy to report that over our first three days of efforts, 25% of our frontline staff (focusing on vulnerable populations first) have been transitioned to a work-from-home environment with more employees being set-up at their homes each day. We are on track to have 50% of our frontline staff working remotely in the next week. Altogether we will have approximately 75% of our staff working from home in the next week.

Clients and their customers have been incredibly supportive and understanding during this challenging time, and the feedback we have been receiving from customer surveys has been very positive. We have received comments from our survey process about how your customers appreciate the opportunity to do the survey because it reduces the feeling of social isolation and provides them an opportunity to discuss the experiences they are having with you. As a result of these positive sentiments and higher proportions of people at home, we are experiencing an increase in response rates to complete surveys across our client-base.

As always, we remain committed to the health and wellness of our clients, our employees, and our communities. For continued updates on SQM’s response to COVID-19, please visit our website. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your account manager.

Sincerely,

Mike Desmarais

Mike Desmarais
Founder and CEO of SQM Group

A Message from Mike Desmarais, Founder and CEO of SQM Group

Published March 16, 2020

Response to COVID-19

To our valued clients,

The coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to be top-of-mind as each of us experience the influx of information and daily developments which cause volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity in the world around us.

At SQM, we are diligently working to ensure the health and safety of our clients, employees, and the communities we operate in (Coeur d’Alene, ID and Vernon, BC). What’s most important to us is looking after the well-being of our employees and their families while meeting the needs of our clients. I want to reach out personally to let you know what you can expect from us during these trying times.

SQM’s professional service employees (e.g. software developers, account managers, business development, transcribers, etc.) will be working from home and this represents over 50% of our workforce. As a result of our work from home business practices, we do not anticipate any disruption in service or how you contact personnel at SQM. If necessary, we will be exploring options to have our telephone survey representatives (TSRs) work from home. To ensure the health and safety of our TSRs, we will be leveraging our office space to maximize social distancing for their well-being.  We have also increased the frequency and enhanced the thoroughness for all our office sanitization to maintain healthy, safe work environments.

Furthermore, we will follow the guidance of the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), United States Department of Health and Human Services, and Health Canada to ensure that we are providing up to date information and following all North American health protocols. We continue to educate our employees on the recommendations from these government organizations around proper hygiene practices such as: social distancing, proper hand washing techniques, accessibility to disinfectants, and covering your mouth while coughing. Additionally, we are enabling employees to stay home when sick by increasing paid time off to encourage staff to stay home without worrying about losing pay.

To ensure the safety of our clients we have postponed the 21st Annual SQM CX Conference and Industry Awards event and will be rescheduling for early fall. We have postponed all on-site visits with clients and will be conducting these engagements digitally for the near future. SQM has been using video conferencing technology in our normal service delivery for many years and we do not anticipate this service delivery method to cause any disruptions or degradation of our highest commitment to customer service.

SQM does not have any instances of COVID-19 infection. In the case of an incidence of COVID-19 within the organization, SQM would quarantine all affected staff for two weeks. The main functions impacted for a quarantine of the call center would be our live surveying. While our transcribers and managerial staff can continue to work remotely, our telephone interviewers are more limited.

As such, the options for live surveying in the event of a quarantine of the call center are as follows:

  1. Use an outbound IVR methodology to complete the survey. We have created IVR recordings so that we can easily move clients to IVR surveys in the event of a quarantine of the call center.
  2. Use an outbound email methodology to complete the survey. If you are sending or can send email addresses in your contact file, then SQM can move you to an email survey.
  3. For those clients who give permission, we can complete surveys at our other call center if available (U.S. live surveying in Canada or Canadian live surveying in the U.S.).

As always, we remain committed to the health and wellness of our clients, our employees, and our communities. For continued updates on SQM’s response to COVID-19, please visit our website. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your account manager.

Sincerely,

Mike Desmarais

Mike Desmarais
Founder and CEO of SQM Group