Alon GhelberAlon GhelberJuly 14, 2020
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6min969

Things may be going back to normal after the height of the COVID-19 crisis for some businesses, whereas others may still be picking up the pieces and forming a new go-to-market strategy for an uncertain future.

The virus doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon (or at all), so the lessons companies learned during the crisis can be transformational and help refine strategies long-term. Here are five takeaways from the current pandemic to revolutionise your business.

1. Collision Is Imminent But Make Room For Plans

As soon as malls started to close down during the COVID-19 crisis, it became clear that consumers, stuck at home, were going to switch to online shopping. It was ultimately the companies with the best eCommerce components that have fared well.

Retail comprises 55 percent of the annual GDP in the United States. Many retailers had to worry about paying rents in malls that were closed for weeks and had to accumulate debt to make it through the toughest periods of the virus. The companies that were prepared to absorb the sudden spike in online orders tended to weather the COVID-19 storm and will continue to do so in the event of a second wave.

Even with the crisis, online shopping comprises only 14.9 percent of US purchases, so there is plenty of room to grow in eCommerce. Generally, the retailers who fared the best were the ones who marketed towards a consumer’s needs rather than wants. With rising numbers of unemployed, pockets are not as deep as they once were, and it is incumbent on companies to consider what would make consumers regard their products as necessities rather than as luxuries.

2. Working from Home and Providing Safety Gear for Employees

Many employees flirted with the notion of working from home, but the COVID-19 crisis made this possibility a reality for a large percentage of workers. In some cases, this was temporary, but for others, it may be longer term. Companies have had to become more flexible with out-of-the-box solutions that include transitioning some tasks offsite.

Employees will appreciate several options, particularly if they have children who may suddenly have to be kept home from school if a teacher ends up in quarantine. Making employee safety a major priority, including social distancing, masks and encouraging hand-washing demonstrates concern for employees. Customers may also be more likely to do business with companies that are careful about safety, care about their employee experience, and preventing the spread of the virus.

3. Marketing With Compassion

The potential customers you are marketing to are seeing many, many more advertisements besides yours, and the number is growing. It is estimated in the 1970s the average person saw 500 to 1600 ads daily. Way back in 2007, the number was estimated at 5,000 daily and now, in 2020, it may be reaching 6,000. With more individuals and companies selling online because of COVID-19, conventional forms of advertising may be tuned out as people feel inundated by things companies want them to buy. The answer is to tweak your marketing strategy to focus on offering information and value rather than trying to aggressively make a sale. If you offer something, such as a valuable hint or a simple solution to a problem, leads are more likely to pay attention and feel like rewarding you for providing something of value rather than seeing them as just another potential customer.

4. Pivot To What’s Possible

Consumers don’t want to be bothered with extraneous material. Especially during the COVID-19 crisis, they want to hear about products and services that are useful to them. This is why it is more important than ever to ensure that your data strategy hits the right target. Finding a solution that will help you track data across several channels will enable your company to stay relevant to the right leads.

5. Returning Back To The Community

During times of collective struggle, people are impressed with companies that are interested not just in making a profit but making a difference. While COVID-19 is affecting all of our lives, social media becomes a place where people talk about great deeds and compassionate organisations. Pledging a certain percentage of your sales towards charities that will help healthcare workers or COVID-19 patients will create a lasting impression and focus your company’s vision on a broader goal.

Growing from the COVID-19 crisis has been essential for businesses and individuals. These five tips can rev up your business in the short-term and keep your company ready in the long-term for whatever is around the corner.


Alon GhelberAlon GhelberJune 12, 2020
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7min1429

2020 is going to be remembered as a time where customer loyalty took a major hit, closing borders and lockdowns affected the three foundations of brand loyalty: trust, confidence, and availability.

While some economies open up and the stock market erases its losses from the beginning of the year, brand loyalty might take time to recover.

Consumers’ tastes are changing at a faster pace than ever before. We all remember seeing empty supermarket shelves as it was just a couple months ago where shoppers just picked the item which was available (if they were lucky to find one) and not their favorite brand.

Luckily these days are over but consumers got to experience new brands and in most cases much to their surprise, the quality was just as good or even better than expected.

In order to regain brand loyalty brands must act differently and rebuild their shopper’s loyalty, here’s why:

  • Economy – Brands have to compete harder at current as unemployment is at its highest in the 21st century and customers are less likely to make new nonessential purchases.
  • Features V.S Branding – Brand loyalty is being steadily replaced by functional needs as supply chains don’t always have the brand you wanted, which forced consumers to look for equivalents.
  • Online Sales – More customers turn to eCommerce and D2C (direct to consumer) websites where they have more time and data to compare alternatives.
  • Sustainability – COVID19 had strengthened green initiatives and do good movements

According to Edelman Trust Barometer 2020, a staggering 81% of consumers want to be able to trust brands to do the right thing and that this is a deciding factor for them. In addition, the report states that 62% of consumers believe brands play a critical role in winning against the pandemic and that the country will not make it without the help of brands. This is why 33% have already “punished” brands that didn’t respond well – “I have convinced other people to stop using a brand that I felt was not acting appropriately in response to the pandemic”.

With all of these hard metrics, it’s pretty clear why trust is key these days with brands and why consumers are strict about it. However, most brands nither have the resources to run a 12k participants study across 12 countries nor the experts to analyze the results and come up with actionable recommendations.

Instead of running such surveys why won’t we just listen to the content these shoppers leave across social media, eCommerce websites, and other publicly available sources? Analyzing user-generated content (UGC) is where every brand can get an understanding of what their customers think.

So, Why UGC & why now?

User-Generated Content (UGC) is all around us and is actually expected to be over 90% of the world data soon. It includes the likes of online ratings and reviews, social media, blog posts, etc.

UGC is important across the board. It’s important to millennials, as 86% of millennials say that UGC is a good indicator of the quality of a brand and 68% of social media users between the ages of 18 and 24 take into account information shared on social media. Fast forward to eCommerce, and 87% of people say that social media posts help them decide what to buy, while research from the Spiegel Research Center showing that leveraging reviews can increase online conversion by 270% and that reviews by verified purchasers (vs anonymous) can bump up purchase likelihood by additional 15%.

This is why brands encourage customers to leave reviews and provide feedback. But why now?

With COVID-19 and the huge shift to eCommerce and even D2C (Direct to Consumer – where brands develop their own eCommerce channels), UGC becomes the storefront of brands. When a person is online and shopping for a product, brands must have the right UGC next to that product to ensure the purchase. If beforehand some brands could rely on retail shopping and neglect D2C or eCommerce, now we’re at a completely different world. eCommerce had accelerated with the consumer health concerns and social distancing and it will not go back. Brands that commit to eCommerce (and all really should) must embrace UGC as a way to get found better (Search Engine Optimization – SEO), convey trust with authentic, verified purchasers’ comments, and encourage a purchase. It’s the only storefront there is.

Conclusion

With consumers looking for confidence in brands they know, and brands moving to eCommerce and D2C there is really only one way to project trust – UGC. Brands embracing eCommerce and D2C should invest in UGC generation as a way to stay visible and trustworthy in the new world so their online sales are competitive. With UGC comes not just the opportunity of revenue growth but also the opportunity to mine these comments and feedback for insights on the commerce, shopping, product, and service experience. In short, go UGC!!!


Alon GhelberAlon GhelberMay 25, 2020
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6min1066

Recent events forced many companies to convert to a work from home routine. Some companies were quick to adapt to this abrupt change, while others still suffer from the impact in their day to day.

It seemed that after the initial shock, it was business as usual for tech companies, while brick and mortar retailers, real estate and manufacturers suffered greatly.

Brands that didn’t or had little to no significant online operation had to react fast to catch up in this race for survival. They suddenly had to take better care of their employees’ experienced, in the battle to retain their supply chain and customer experience.

In this article, I’ll discuss the chain of events brands had to overcome to stay relevant and function, as well as life in the ‘new normal’, were we might face a second outbreak. So how does the ‘new norm’ going to look like, and what are the main items to monitor?

Working remotely

Within a matter of days, brands had to overcome a surprise turn of event to their working environment and business operation. Companies suddenly had to rethink shipment and delivery during a lockdown, Zoom meetings, and other creative solutions to provide excellent customer service.

Acting fast was the only way brands could ensure the relevancy to the new normal of the COVID world. Brands had to navigate their way between their employees and fast changes in consumers’ taste.

For example, companies that value their employees’ experience made sure to provide them with a decent home office. By taking a look at the Amazon best sellers for this category, the best-selling items are mainly home office supplies.

Help your employees results in a better level of service

Customers seek support and reassurance from their familiar brands. Delivering rapid solutions to their changing needs and concerns will help to keep them loyal.

Here are some ways brands should address their employees and customers in a crisis:

  • Make sure that customers and employees are aware of the resources, care, support and concern the company invests in them. Let them feel that they can rely on the brand under challenging times.
  • Help your employees by understanding the needs of the customers. Provide the essentials for your service: Make sure your company is digitated for online access, establish a delivery system and a touch-free environment for physical shopping (plexiglass guards).

Taking care of your employees and trying to improve their lives during social distancing might even be more critical.

Brands that took an active approach and arranged their employees’ with online workouts during a workday sent small but thoughtful girts to their homes and established experience questionnaire witnessed an increase in customer experience almost immediately.

One of the most important things brands should focus on right now, is leading customers and employees towards the post-COVID world in a safe manner.

First, understanding and predicting the evolving needs and tastes of their employees and customers will lead to a better relationship and sentiment.
Second, analysing business and marketing strategies will allow brands to stay relevant.

Taking proactive measures by ensuring the brand has a stable array to face the world’s changes and comprehending peoples’ needs faster than ever.

Keeping consumer sentiment at it’s best

On the one hand, there are brilliant brands who were able to stay relevant and vibrant even though their product became less desired during the pandemic. Cosmetic companies, for example, used their resources to formulate essential products like sanitisers, donated products to vital workers and charity. They made sure that when the lockdown is lifted, consumers will have them in mind.

On the other hand, manufacturers of essential products had to adjust to their customer’s fast-changing needs rapidly. Companies added moisturising to their self-hygiene products due to frequent hand wash and sanitising.

Brands who managed to adapt fast can stay vibrant and even thrive during a crisis— keeping their customers loyal during this pandemic.

Conclusion

Excellent communication and taking extra care of employees’ needs contributes to a brand’s sentiment in multiple ways. Empathy towards your staff will lead to higher morale ethic, trust and healthier working environment and positive atmosphere.

By embedding the above in their corporate toolbox, brands will discover their employees are more satisfied and productive. They will also likely witness other accretion in the company, such an increase in brand loyalty, customer experience and sentiment.


Alon GhelberAlon GhelberMay 4, 2020
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8min1593

Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients. -Richard Branson.

Technology has pushed workforce optimisation forward through the years, and it’s impressive how far businesses have come. What some organisations don’t realise is that optimising business processes and manpower allocation isn’t enough; ensuring that employee morale and engagement is as important, if not more so.

Excellent customer service has always been the main objective of every business, and it’s vital that you know and understand the link between employee experience and customer experience.

A recent study by Frost & Sullivan found that 89% of surveyed companies believed that an improvement in contact center engagement will lead to a significant increase in the overall quality of customer experience. In the current gig economy, employee attrition is a major concern because unhappy and unsatisfied employees are prepared to simply find that happiness elsewhere.

If employees come in and out, it makes it challenging for management and HR to stabilise business processes and transfer knowledge effectively across the organisation. If employees are not properly equipped to do their jobs, this could lead to a deterioration of employee morale that could transfer inadvertently to your customers. Providing employees the proper training and tools is a wise investment that will serve both the business and its customers in the long run.

What is Workforce Engagement Management (WEM)?

Because of the repetitive nature of their jobs, customer-facing employees often find it challenging to maintain an upbeat and positive attitude throughout the day. Fortunately, technology has also stepped in to help address this through Workforce Engagement Management (WEM).

WEM is a suite of products focused on helping companies manage and improve employee engagement. These products encompass all stages of employment, from recruitment and onboarding to management and performance. They also work to supplement an already established set of tools that fall under the Workforce Optimisation (WFO) category.

Compared to WEM products, the focus of WFO products is on the overall efficiency of business operations. They will inevitably overlap in their practical application, but they are fundamentally different.

Is Employee Engagement Important?

If you consider the overall financial and manpower cost of recruitment, it’s easy to see how expensive it is to replace employees. The good thing, though, is that employee attrition can be minimised significantly by focusing on engaging employees and keeping them happy.

After all, employees don’t leave because they found a better opportunity elsewhere; they leave because that opportunity isn’t provided them in their current employment.

The importance of keeping employees engaged is evident in the fact that there are companies that exist solely to promote employee engagement. LinkedIn is one of the best examples of a company focused on the employee experience because it helps companies promote it within their organisation and also does the same with their own employees.

Glassdoor is also becoming a trusted resource when it comes to employee engagement because it goes beyond providing insight into how it is to work for certain companies and plays a major role in the whole recruitment process.

Below are a few tips to help you enhance employee engagement in your company through online reviews.

  • Monitor employee feedback on online review sites and respond accordingly.

If you aren’t keeping track of employee review sites, now is the best time to start. This should be a major part of your employee engagement program because most of your potential and past employees are now online. Companies now even have a strategy when it comes to managing employer profiles on employee review sites—and you should have one, too. Monitor what your employees are saying about your company and your brand and address issues and answer questions if necessary.

  • Encourage employee reviews.

Getting feedback is important if you want to constantly improve your business processes and employee engagement programs. Encourage employees to provide company reviews, especially new hires because they have fresh insight and are enthusiastic to start on their new journey. Ideally, the best times to look for reviews are during the employee onboarding process, when you roll out new benefits or incentives, before a major hiring push, and during the exit interview.

  • Promote your company reviews online.

The reason behind the success of online review sites like Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and Indeed is that they focus on user-generated content. Positive reviews on these sites are proof of excellent employee experience straight from the mouths of the employees themselves. Many job seekers rely on these reviews because they are relatable—speaking in the voice of a specific company’s workforce. Put these reviews front and center by posting a link to them on your company social media accounts, on your job postings, and on your careers page.

You could also add the link to your candidate outreach emails to help candidates get a feel for your company and make the decision to accept your offer or look elsewhere.

 

Employee engagement goes beyond the duration of employment; it begins once an employee or candidate first engages with your company and continues through the entire employee lifecycle. Although online reviews can help in the management of employee engagement, the involvement of the business or its stakeholders will ensure that both employees and candidates get a comprehensive, balanced view of how their future looks with your company.

 




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