It has been over two months since we all began to face the challenges of covid-19, not only on personal levels staying safe, but economically and continuing to work and operate our businesses as best we can.
Directors of AME, Steve and Simon would like to provide an update on our own team and how we have adapted, and the services we have provided to our customers in the last few months and what that looks like going forward.
Firstly, a big thank you to all of our customers for your understanding, both on support and those attending training courses. We had to postpone all of our training courses from March to June and continue to monitor the social distancing rules to establish when we can re-open our training suite at our head office. Many of our training customers are keen to reschedule their booked courses and we have had several new enquires in recent weeks for new courses as we see businesses return to their offices. We have now scheduled in courses for the autumn and if these cannot be hosted at our head office, then they will still go ahead over the internet, with a live video feed to the trainer. If you would like to know about our schedule of courses please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our Director of Technical Services Rob Wright and his team have done an incredible job looking after our customers as they all adapt to a new way of working. Whilst the whole of our own team was able to easily switch from office to home, with all of the solutions in place, many of our customers that had never wanted to or had the need to work from home, were not able to at the drop of a hat. We had the busiest 3 week period in 15 years of business, processing more support requests then ever. The team responded extremely well and from the great feedback and messages received from our customers we know everyone appreciated the extra mile we went to ensure everyone could work in one way or another. The biggest problem we had at the time was sourcing hardware. Businesses bought up every laptop in the UK and with a delay on new stock coming from China meant prices increased on what was left. We are pleased to advise that in most areas, normal stock levels and pricing has returned to normal.
Following the announcement of the furlough scheme, the large majority of our support customers had to furlough their employees and with a massive reduction in calls, we had to follow suit. Whilst we initially had to delay the installation of new project work (and a big thank you for being patient for those customers effected), this then became the perfect time for several customers to carry out essential upgrades and bring forward plans for things like a new servers/desktops or phone systems, as their office was empty or they needed the new tech to help them work better from home. We have slowly brought back members of the team as we have seen the demand increase and our customers return to their offices, taking their employees off furlough.
The AME Solutions team continue to work from home, with no planned date to return as yet. As an IT business, we have adapted extremely well and other than having to shut down our training department, we continue to offer our full support services and solutions to our customers. New hardware is shipped direct to the customer site and the team install remotely where possible, or alternatively our engineers take delivery of new kit and are attending site, taking into account the new social distancing measures. If you had been discussing IT projects with us for later this year or are now considering how to improve your IT and phone systems to be able to work better and more efficiently, please get in touch with team. We had to implement many short term solutions for our customers just to be able to give them a way to continue to work and we know many businesses are already considering making improvements so that their employees will have the ability to do everything as we look to return to normal, or should I say, the new normal.
We have seen the government, news channels and social media talk about Zoom for video conferencing, which has become really popular for staying in touch with your own team and customers. However video conference is already a part of Microsoft 365 with the use of Teams and if you already use our recommended phone system 3CX, it’s a part of that too… at no extra cost. If you are not already using Microsoft 365 for your Office applications or email, you can still have a low cost monthly subscription to give you other features. Many of our customers have already switched to 365, but may not be utilising all of the features that can help you work better remotely. We have also seen many businesses with old phone systems (ISDN or analogue), that are tied to their building with very little features. With a system like 3CX, we were able to leave the office and turn on at home and have full functionality, through a desktop soft phone, mobile app or even with a traditional handset. As well as having a full presence system to see who else is on the phone and video conferencing built in. Many of our customers already benefit from 3CX and they too managed to switch to home working really efficiently.
Many customers are now looking at better ways to remote connect to their office data/applications or looking at cloud solutions so that their information can be accessed without the office network. No doubt there are many other business challenges you face right now, so for some IT might take a back seat for a while which we completely understand. It is certainly worth considering how you are working at the moment, how you would like to work going forward and whether improvements to your IT and phone systems might actually help you adapt for the better.
If you would like more information on any of these topics please let us know. It would be great to hear from you about feedback on the team over the last few months as we still want to ensure all our customer receive the highest level of customer service.
One final thought… We know of several businesses that we do not support that have struggled during this time, that may not partner with an IT support company or have not had the service they require. If you have been having conversations with your customers and suppliers over this period about their experiences of working from home and you know some have struggled, please do pass on our information or drop us an email and we would be pleased to get in touch to help them as well.
Please pass on our best wishes to your team and we hope that we will be able to sit down together for a coffee again soon.