Companies and employees like remote-hybrid work. Customers don’t!

By our News Team | 2023

Customer satisfaction is on the decline in the brave new world of work, new research into remote-hybrid work finds.

Employees tend to favour a remote-hybrid working model because it’s flexible and reduces their daily commute. Many companies like it too because it boosts productivity and cuts costs. 

But where’s the long-term benefit if, in the process, you’re creating unhappy clients who feel that the customer experience is now worse than in pre-Covid times?


New research finds that remote workers in key customer-facing jobs such as sales are losing touch with their clients at a time when service expectations have never been higher. It’s a similar situation in call centres, where customers are left fuming by bad connectivity, dropped calls, high levels of background noise, and slow response times when interacting with work-from-home agents. Case in point, of the survey respondents, 50% noted issues with communication breakdowns and connectivity since working on a hybrid work model.

Customer Experience

Photo by Antoni Shkraba from Pexels

“It’s clear from our study that there are many barriers to delivering a good customer experience when staff are working remotely, says Nathalie Schooling, CEO of Nlightencx, leading customer experience (CX) specialists.


The study involved a blend of verbatim telephonic interviews and electronic research with special emphasis on South Africa’s top financial services companies to include multinationals.


Our world of work has changed


“Post-Covid, the world of work in South Africa has changed. But so too has the customer journey and client expectations. People now demand high levels of excellence, instant attention to their queries, and quick turnaround times when they have problems.


“This is creating a disconnect and customer experience will continue to suffer if remote-hybrid work is not managed correctly – and the appropriate training, AI and automation tools aren’t put in place to streamline customer service processes.” 


Schooling further emphasises that, with 63% of survey respondents saying their departments operate on a hybrid work model, it’s safe to say that remote and hybrid work is not going to disappear anytime soon. Neither is load shedding, which is clearly a catalyst for many of the problems being encountered. 


Among the specific concerns raised by the survey respondents around CX and a hybrid-remote working environment, these came out tops:

  • Remote workers are offline for extended periods of time because of load shedding.
  • Voice calls are being dropped due to load shedding.
  • Poor online connectivity. 
  • More inbound calls (calls from customers) are being abandoned before they can be answered.
  • Unacceptable background noise during voice calls when staff are working from home.
  • Staff seem distracted by goings-on at home (e.g., children and pets). 
  • Remote staff are struggling to quickly share important client information with each other, resulting in delayed or low-quality customer responses. 

“The solution is not to get rid of hybrid-remote work, it’s more about how management teams implement the right tools, technologies and procedures – as well as the appropriate leadership and management styles – to ensure employees are happy and the end-user customer experience doesn’t suffer,” says Schooling.

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    Dr Kin Kariisa

    Group CEO - Next Media

    Dr. Kin Kariisa is an extraordinary force at the helm of Next Media Services, a conglomerate encompassing NBS TV, Nile Post, Sanyuka TV, Next Radio, Salam TV, Next Communication, Next Productions, and an array of other influential enterprises. His dynamic role as Chief Executive Officer exemplifies his unwavering commitment to shaping media, business, and community landscapes.
    With an esteemed academic journey, Dr. Kariisa’s accolades include an Honorary PhD in exemplary community service from the United Graduate College inTexas, an MBA from United States International University in Nairobi, Kenya, a Master’s degree in Computer Engineering from Huazong University in China, and a Bachelor’s degree in Statistics from Makerere University.
    Dr. Kariisa pursued PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands. As a dynamic educator, he has shared his expertise as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at both Makerere University and Radboud University.

    Dr Kin did his PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radbond University in Nigmegen, Netherlands. He previously served as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda and Radbond University in Netherlands.

    Dr Kin did his postgraduate courses in Strategic Business Management, Strategic Leadership Communication and Strategies for Leading Successful Change Initiatives at Harvard University, Boston USA.

    • Other current and previous roles played by Dr Kin Kariisa:
    • Lecturer of e-Government and Information Security to graduate students at Makerere University, Kampala and Radbond University in the Netherlands
    • Director of Eco Bank Uganda Limited, one of the largest banks in Africa
    • Chairman of the National Association of Broadcasters, an umbrella industry association for all Television, Radio and online broadcasters in Uganda.
    • Chairman of Board of Directors of Nile Hotel International, that owns the leading hotel in Uganda, Kampala Serena Hotel.
    • Chairman of Board of Directors of Soliton Telmec Uganda, the leading telecom company in Optic fibre business managing over 80% of optic fibre in Uganda.