In the last month or so we’ve all seen our priorities and approaches to work upended. Our world is completely different than in it was just days and weeks ago. Our daily routines have changed, and so to have our standard approaches to connection, communication and working.

As we all work to pivot and refine, or in some cases overhaul, our customer experience strategies and priorities, we’d like to share these five actionable tips to help you find success in the new world order.

Tip #1: Focus on communication and relationships

It’s vital to establish good communication and relationship strategies to maintain effective connections and empathy in this time of crisis. Don’t rely on email as your only method of communication.

We all need to take advantage of technology and leverage it to its fullest capability. By incorporating video as a standard operating procedure in all communications, we are better able to establish relationships and demonstrate understanding during this time of uncertainty and stress.

We need to take this approach beyond our standard inner-company dialogue, and apply it to how we communicate with our customers. Our customers are experiencing these same feelings of loss, grief, and uncertainty. As CX professionals and leaders, it is our duty to advocate for better engagement with our customers through enhanced use of technology.

Unfortunately, many companies have reacted by only distributing a mass email or two. This reaction is impersonal, anti-empathetic, and often irrelevant to the recipient. It violates CX best practices because it demonstrates a lack of customer understanding from an empathy point of view as well as a relationship standpoint.

In addition to the “here’s what we’re doing email”, organisations should:

  • Make the communication relevant to how the customer interacts with you. When was the last time there was an interaction? What are their standard interactions and how does your Covid-19 plan relate to how they usually engage with your company?
  • Post videos on YouTube or LinkedIn to reach broader audiences and better demonstrate empathy. In this time when face-to-face interaction is all but halted, seeing someone talk has even greater impact.
  • Invest in commercials. Let’s face it, we are all watching live news right now and aren’t skipping commercials. This is another way to connect and get your message out there.
  • Utilise your website. We’re shocked by how many company websites we’ve visited for information that have nothing related to new Covid-19 adjustments. Post new hours, new policies, what you’re doing and what your customers can do in this time.
  • Be human. So many communications have been rushed and robotic. Those that are human are winning customers hearts.

Most importantly, organisations need to put themselves in their customers’ shoes. What do your customers need? What do your customers want to know? When Megan had to cancel her daughter’s birthday party she was beyond frustrated that she had to make three phone calls, plus go online and find their “Contact Us” email just to connect with the company as they were not responding to phone calls.

This is a stressful time for everyone, try to make the process as seamless as possible for your customers. Have plans in place to answer all communications channels within a reasonable amount of time. Plan to communicate appropriately and effectively.

Tip #2: Add collaborative technology into the mix

You might be thinking: “we’re already using Zoom / CiscoWebex / Skype, haven’t we already done that?”. The short answer is “No!” You can go further.

Innovative technologies take it beyond basic video and voice communication and accommodate for the collaborative side of things. Think of a brainstorming session or Design Thinking whiteboarding workshop.

Collaborative technologies allow you to replace in-person workshops and bring them online.

They can be used to help you complete those journey mapping initiatives or empathy maps. More than that they can be used to help you re-evaluate your team’s priorities, all while working in real-time in a very interactive and visual way.

Such tools include; Deskle, Invision, Miro, Mural, Stormboard and Whimsical.

Mural, a digital workspace for visual collaboration

 

 

 

Tip #3: Build Empathy

Empathy and communication go hand-in-hand, and communication without empathy is wasted in a time like this.

One of the cornerstones of Customer Experience that establishes empathy is building customer understanding; walking in your customers’ shoes to recognise what your customer experiences. In this stressful time of crisis, employees working remotely can learn from this CX pillar.

We need to understand that we are all in this together; everyone is under stress and has anxiety about the virus. We are stuck in new routines and we don’t know what will happen next

Now more than ever, it’s important to be empathetic and patient. Laugh when your client’s child pops up on the video call. Pause the meeting if a co-worker’s dog is barking. Monitor your tone with others and don’t lash out. Be patient and lend that listening ear.

Janelle recently spoke with a friend at a bank, and despite the fact that nearly 50% of their SMB customers would soon be out of business, the bank decided to book one-on-one calls with each of those customers to simply listen. There was little the bank could do to help many of them, and those clients would spend upwards of an hour on each call just talking, venting, and even crying. They appreciated the quiet reassurance, and empathetic ear.

Understand what others are dealing with in the face of Covid-19, and be whatever your customers need you to be in that moment – empathetic, patient, a warm smile on the other end of the video chat.

Tip #4: Incorporate an Opportunity Mindset

When faced with adversity it’s always good to see the silver lining. Beyond that, and perhaps more deliberately, exists the Opportunity Mindset.

The Opportunity Mindset is about actively seeking the opportunity that exists in each situation:

    • Is this an opportunity to prove that you can do more with less?
    • Is this an opportunity to get alignment and funding for a key priority?
    • Is this an opportunity to connect with customers in new ways?
    • Is this an opportunity to showcase the experience you’ve already designed and delivered?
    • Is this an opportunity to try something completely new?

Find the opportunity that exists within each step or activity.

Tip #5: Go beyond your comfort zone

Many of you have already adapted a new routine. Perhaps already settled in and gotten comfortable in what you think is the new normal. We challenge you to take it a step (or even 2) further.

We are living (and doing business) at this unique moment in time. A moment that could be considered an open window. A window that allows us the chance to fail, a chance to be vulnerable and a chance to do something really incredible for our businesses and our customers.

We all need to leap through those open windows, bringing our customers, employees and stakeholders with us. Despite the fear and anxiety that is permeating throughout our cities, there’s also an expectation that businesses will step up, adapt and innovate. There’s an expectation that the old ways of doing business are gone, and that there will be a new way of engaging customers, in the new era of Customer Experience.

In closing, we challenge you to go beyond. Go beyond what you’ve already achieved. Push yourself, and your team(s) further. Challenge each other to innovate and find new creative ways of achieving your CX priorities and business outcomes.

 

This article was written by Janelle Mansfield MBA, and Megan Germann CCXP. Megan is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP) who has over 15 years of primary and secondary data analysis and market/customer research experience. She has designed and executed Voice of the Customer programs at several Fortune 500 companies in both B2B and B2C capacities. She is also the founder of her own consulting firm, Megan Germann Insights & Consulting (MGIC) focusing on market/customer research and VoC consulting services.

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