The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the customer experience paradigm. Though we may be unable to offer truly great in-person service for some time, here’s four ways to keep your CX in tip-top shape throughout the ‘new normal’.
Meet Your Customers Where They Are
Customers during the region’s pandemic lockdowns have gotten a taste of the digital life – and they’re liking it.
According to McKinsey, overall online penetration in China increased by 15 to 20 percent during the lockdown, while in Italy, e-commerce sales for consumer products rose by 81 percent in a single week.
Daily activities like shopping, dining, and socialising are now moving online. Once customers get used to it, they’ll likely want more in the future. Online is becoming more convenient and useful, especially when platforms focus on good UX to smooth the customer journey.
This is not just restricted to online shopping. For instance, if a customer deals with a chatbot on a bank’s website and the issue needs to be escalated to involve a human, the bank can maintain a system that keeps the context from the chatbot intact. The bank can also have video chat and co-browsing capabilities with human customer service executives, who can work to solve the customers’ problems.
Another example is that more health care professionals are moving to telehealth due to social distancing. They have added chatbots to get initial information before patients move to video chat with their provider.
Companies who make this shift to digital and deliver superior experiences have an opportunity to increase adoption and maintain these customer relationships after the crisis.
Listen to Your Employees
In today’s uncertain times, old thinking is out the window. Businesses need to gather as much new data as possible, and there is no better source than the people on the frontline – your employees.
They are your eyes and ears on the ground. Their feedback is invaluable to fine-tuning your CX offering. Sadly, this source of insights often goes largely overlooked. According to a study by Medallia, while 78 percent of frontline employees report that their leaders have made customer experience a top priority, nearly 60 percent say they believe that their ideas for improving that experience often go unheard.
Hence, listening to your employees is critical for navigating through this period. Investing in tools that can collect and aggregate real-time feedback from your employees will help in making a difference.
Reassure Your Customers
With companies closed or going dark during the lockdown period, your customers need to know that you are there for them, as well as the steps that you are taking to keep them safe.
Open communications from your team to your customers is even more important during this time. Be candid without hiding behind corporate-speak in outlining concrete strategies that convey a sense of security and assurance.
One of the greatest examples of this is an open letter to Starbucks’ customers by its CEO and President, Kevin Johnson. In it, Johnson outlines concrete steps that Starbucks is taking to ensure its customers’ safety, as well as upholding the welfare of its employees. The company learned from its experience in China, where the pandemic first hit.
Focus on Fundamentals
Now more than ever, people need extra information, guidance, and support to navigate a novel set of challenges, from keeping their families safe to helping their kids learn when schools are shut down. They want a resource they can trust, that can make them feel safe when everything seems uncertain, and that offers support when so much seems to be overwhelming.
A great starting point is your company’s values and purpose. Socially responsible, people-first brands tend to stick in customers’ minds. Research by Edelman shows that 64 percent of customers choose to buy from socially responsible brands, a figure that has grown significantly in the past two years.
Care for your stakeholders – employees, community, and customers – must come from a genuine place. Financials may take a hit, but the goodwill earned will more than make up for it. For instance, Budweiser redeployed US$5 million usually spent on sports and entertainment marketing to the American Red Cross, while luxury-goods companies have refitted cosmetics and perfume production to help produce hand sanitizer.