Millions of people all over the world found themselves forced to change their purchasing behaviours overnight, which had a strong impact on global trade. The pandemic was a turning point for customers’ relationships with companies and their service teams. People’s loyalty towards brands was strongly challenged by the quality of services during uncertainty. Although the Gordian Knot looks less unsolvable now, the relationship between the client and the customer care employees is still under tremendous pressure.

Even brands that already have a strong human-oriented approach and emotional connection with the clients should invest in building those relationships. All organizations need to develop an understanding of their customer’s needs and habits to optimize journeys according to the new reality. 

Recognizing the challenges of the new reality

Most of our transactions have moved online, from grocery shopping to paying utility bills and doctor visits. However, not all customers are familiar with digital mediums. Some people are not used to smart online solutions and require more effort and handholding across the journeys. Therefore, companies need to think of the context and needs of different customer segments to adapt their strategies. Only this way, customer services can meet people’s requirements and foster long-term loyalty.

Still, this is not something you should do in a rush or without taking into account customer insights. The acceleration of digital investments in building customer journeys can have a negative impact on both your clients and employees. It can leave you with improper solutions that complicate customers’ lives rather than simplifying them. Consequently, your clients can become frustrated and decide to leave the journey. They might even overflood your customer care team with questions and requirements, rising negative feelings among your employees as well.

The dangers of digitalization fatigue

Hasty implementation of digital journeys can harm your employees in several ways. Firstly, they’ll have to learn a wealth of information in a short period. Secondly, they’ll need to provide reliable and quick support in order to represent companies in the best light. Thirdly, if your digital implementation doesn’t resonate with customers, employees might find themselves spending a lot of time and effort dealing with unsatisfied clients.

The prolonged exposure to unsatisfied clients that demand rapid interventions can lead to fatigue. According to scientists, this phenomenon can happen to all the employees that experience long-term and extreme stress or cognitive activity drainage. Its most common symptoms include irritability, insomnia, stress eating or appetite loss, but also mental block, lack of motivation, and overall low levels of productivity and cognitive function. These symptoms can vary from one person to another and often begin to show gradually. If left untreated, acute fatigue can turn into chronic fatigue, anxiety, or burnout.

Now, the pandemic has altered these dangers and issues. Clients’ constant and continuously growing demands took a toll on the employees working in customer service. The incredibly high expectations regarding efficiency under the new circumstances heavily influenced people within organizations. Not only did employees had to manage their own isolation and uncertainty but also deal with their clients’ concerns and needs.

Empathy and emotional balance as new CX superpowers

Much ink has been spilt about the impact of digitalization on customers’ experience, but we seem to forget to cover its impact on the mental health of employees.

A study conducted by workforce management expert Quinyx shows that before the Coronavirus pandemic, 38% of retail workers said that their job negatively impacted their mental health. Since the pandemic started, more than 50% responded that their mental health situation worsened and 70% of employees considered this to be the most stressful period of their careers.

Improving these scores is not that hard as it might seem at first. Overcoming mental health challenges is all about developing practices such as these below:

  • Break the stigma by encouraging managers and leaders to open up and share their stories about overcoming mental health challenges.
  • Establish a mental health plan with the HR representatives and organizational therapists and get support from the top management for successful implementation.
  • Encourage employees to be mindful of their colleagues that might be struggling with emotionally challenging situations.
  • Show strong emphasis on internal communication and try to deliver relevant and helpful information on mental health.
  • Actively listen and respond kindly to any help request from the customer care teams.
  • Ask for feedback on a continuous basis.

The post-pandemic world is just emerging, and this is the optimal moment for companies to adopt a human-centred approach. I argue this is the only way towards understanding the broad context and needs of both the employees and clients.

When you support your employees adequately, you also inspire them to generate empathy towards the clients and develop a better understanding of customer attitudes. Ultimately, this leads to better customer service while also protecting the mental health of your employees in the long run.

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