Sandra RadlovackiSandra RadlovackiSeptember 17, 2020
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3min524

Sage, the market leader in cloud business management solutions, announced today that Steve Hare, CEO, has been recognised by Glassdoor for having the highest rated leadership score in the UK (95 percent), during the COVID-19 crisis.

The data published by Glassdoor today, uses primary analysis of voluntary, anonymous company reviews and ratings from UK-based current and former employees between 1st March, 2020 and 31st July, 2020.

Steve Hare, CEO of Sage, said: “These are truly unprecedented times for our colleagues and customers, and this recognition is a direct reflection of their individual commitments and hard work. During this outbreak, Sage’s priority was to create a safe and effective working environment at a time when the stakes were high, and our customers’ need for support was greater than ever.”

“I am a passionate advocate of listening to all colleagues and adapting to change as quickly and efficiently as possible. The next stage of this pandemic is an unknown to us all, and we must continue to listen and adapt to support those who need it most – including our small and medium sized businesses, up and down the country.”

The Top 10 highest rated CEOs During the COVID-19 Crisis in the UK are:

  1. Steve Hare, CEO of Sage: 95% Leadership Score
  2. Alan Hirzel, CEO of Abcam: 94% Leadership Score
  3. Duncan Rendall, CEO of Rendall and Rittner: 94% Leadership Score
  4. Greg Reed, CEO of HomeServeUK: 93% Leadership Score
  5. Dava Thayan, CEO of Kingsley Healthcare: 91% Leadership Score
  6. Pete Redfern, CEO of Taylor Wimpey: 91% Leadership Score
  7. Tracey Storey, CEO of ICP Nurseries: 88% Leadership Score
  8. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook: 88% Leadership Score
  9. Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce: 87% Leadership Score
  10. Rob Browett, CEO of TeacherActive: 85% Leadership Score

Alon GhelberAlon GhelberJuly 14, 2020
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6min1132

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.


Sandra RadlovackiSandra RadlovackiJune 26, 2020
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5min1257

The current situation made it inevitable for many organisations to shift their work to home in order to stay operating.

From universities transferring to online learning, to restaurants having to offer only online order and delivery, the digital environment has seen a swarm of new occupants joining in during the time of emergency, which put to test all brands that weren’t investing enough into their digital presence.

The new normal poses many challenges to brands, the biggest one being having the capacity to thrive in sudden reality turnover. As the whole world moves to the digital, understanding digital experience management will be of key importance in staying afloat in the current climate. Businesses that can satisfy consumer needs through digital channels will be the ones to survive the crisis.

The rule of three

By focusing on three key digital outcomes, you can foster a sustainable and differentiating experience:

  • How did the interaction make the customer feel? Pay attention to emotion.
  • Did the customer have any trouble achieving their goal? Keep track of the effort customers have to put.
  • Was the customer able to achieve the goal? Was the interaction successful?

Let’s discuss one by one:

1. Emotion

In today’s uncertain world, conveying meaningful emotion through digital channel presents a significant challenge for brands. By finding the right balance of listening and speaking, you can establish an empathic connection with your customers. Understanding what are the priorities of your customers, employees and partners alike can help you deliver a complete service founded on trust and confidence.

2. Effort

It is paramount to eliminate any potential obstacles on your customers’ journey. The customers should struggle as little as possible – if at all, in achieving their goal. Try to simplify the process and make it easier for your customers to make decisions. The task itself should not be challenging, as the seamless flow and connection of your brand’s digital channels are crucial for fulfilling customer expectations. Make your messages clear and effective, and above all timely. The current climate is unpredictable and changes could be happening when you least expect them. By tailoring communication to the place and time of the situation you can ensure customer loyalty and keep customer churn at the minimum.

3. Success

When it comes to the third and final element of digital experience, the customer can either successfully complete the task or not. It is how much trouble they went through until completing the task that counts. Ask yourself what you can incorporate to make a difference in approach to your digital experience. Analyse your strong and weak points and finetune them to make your customers successful in each of their experience with your brand.

How do others do it?

An Australia based media company leverage verbatim feedback to adapt to their customer’s needs quickly. The company learned that their pricing blocks were too loud when reporting on COVID-19, and in accordance with that, they managed to change and adapt easily and rapidly.

The Covid-19 has turned the world upside down. Isolation and hardships of many can give your brand a chance to excel your digital experience with a refreshed and empathic sense of purpose. What you do now is what will differentiate your brand in the post-COVID -19 world, as the one who went above and beyond when it was needed the most.


Howard LaxHoward LaxJune 23, 2020
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8min1662

The pandemic has dramatically redefined how we live, work, play and interact with each other. Our daily routines, relationships of all stripes, simple indulgences, even our personal hygiene have been upended.

No one really knows if this will turn out to be a seismic interruption of some duration after which life slowly returns to BC (Before COVID) or if “normal” has been indelibly altered.

Regardless of what tomorrow looks like, one thing remains unchanged: the underlying rationale for focusing on Customer Experience.

CX is a business strategy rooted in the proven premise that the experiences a customer enjoys (or endures) today will affect their relationship with and behaviour towards a firm tomorrow. It is incumbent upon the firm to deliver those experiences that motivate the customer behaviours that create value for the company, while minimising the likelihood of customer behaviours that destroy value.

What’s changed?

While the objectives behind CX remain unshaken, the context, the operating environment has been shaken to its core by the pandemic shock waves.

1. All modern economies are consumer-driven and, mostly, decentralised. That is, customers have options and create business winners and losers by the choices they make. The concept of consumer “choice” has a new meaning, however, when the unemployment rate is the highest it has been in 90-some-odd years. No one working today was in the work force the last time we saw similar levels of unemployment (as well as underemployment).

2. For those fortunate enough to be employed, spending patterns have been disrupted: savings rates have climbed sharply, while discretionary spending is down. This household fiscal conservatism may be prudent financial management, but it isn’t a very good way to reignite the economy and boost business.

3. Distribution channels have been broken, disrupted and redefined. Both the supply chain into the firm from its suppliers and the outbound channels have been affected.

4. Employees are frenzied, almost apoplectic. To say that employees are worried and treading water in a sea of uncertainty would be an understatement. They are trying to navigate between and cope with the lesser of two evils, the dual threat to their family’s health, on the one hand, and their economic well-being, on the other.

5. Customer experience delivery systems have been upended, redefined or taxed to breaking. For most firms, their employees were their CX delivery system. The in-person dimension is just beginning to come back on-stream, albeit in new ways. Phone, chat and video conferencing have catapulted in importance, but we just don’t know how this will affect customer relationships over time.

Digital solutions certainly saved the day for many companies – the more digitally prepared a company was going into this mess, the more likely they were to not see a serious disruption in the experiences they delivered. Virtually every firm has seen its customer touchpoints and journeys disrupted, redefined and pushed to their limit.

6. Customers are frustrated: some want to return to life Before COVID as quickly as possible and are impatient for the world to reopen. Others are reluctant to jump back in too quickly. All are faced with an environment where the economic, health and familial issues are compounded by political dimensions that colour everything.

What needs to be on the To-Do List?

Companies need to focus on those challenges that most affect them and where they can have an impact.

Employees are front and centre. It will be a Buyer’s employment market for years to come, with plenty of ‘warm bodies’ to hire – but attracting and retaining the right talent will require a reciprocal bond of trust between employee and employer.

Companies need to understand and empathise, in both words and deeds, and smooth the transition back to a new working normal.

  • Make sure you involve employees in the process of re-acclimation to whatever the new normal becomes. Ask for and respond to their input . . . then ask again, and again, and yet again.
  • Companies must make their employees feel safe. This will, at some point, inevitably lead to a conflict with a customer who is, shall we say, is a bit more cavalier in their attitude and behaviour regarding the pandemic and health risks: the customer may be royalty, but the firm must support their employees in their efforts to protect their safety.

There has been a secular shift away from in-person experiences to experiences delivered remotely. For the most part, customers have been understanding of the challenges companies faced in shifting to all remote interactions, but the digital and electronic world make shopping around and switching easier.

When the smoke clears, companies will need to be more nimble than ever in delivering experiences where, when and how customers feel most comfortable – and that location, time and mode of interaction are likely to evolve over time, especially if there is a second wave.

Ultimately, of course, it’s about the customer and how to meet their needs and expectations. Let me offer three suggestions.

  • First, assume that all prior measurements and key driver models need to be revalidated and/or updated and regularly monitored until we come out of the other end of the tunnel. If nothing else, you will need to add new items to measure around health and safety and gauge their impact on customer experiences and loyalty.
  • Second, borrow a page from the scientists and the way public health experts and policy makers have responded to the pandemic: take a data-driven approach to decision making. All of us have heard people wax on about the pandemic numbers, the shape of the curve and the latest predictions. Yes, the data changes and the models evolve, but they are the only sound criteria for decision making.
  • Finally, this is a perfect scenario for what we at Confirmit refer to as VoC/E: augmenting your VoC work with direct input from employees regarding how to redress customer experience problems and shortfalls. When customers flag a performance failure or disappointment, mobilise employee input for possible solutions. This is a great way to generate ideas for how to respond to changing customer needs and concerns and actively involve employees to both improve the customer experience and boost employee engagement at the same time.

The business imperative for CX may be the same, but the environment presents a host of new challenges demanding attention. Companies need to respond smartly.


Nitzan HasonNitzan HasonJune 10, 2020
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10min1488

The coronavirus pandemic is arguably the most unprecedented event around the globe since the Spanish flu.

With the virus spreading fast regardless of geography, consumers have avoided public places as much as possible, leading to a shift in shopping trends.

Many shoppers have gone online because they now see it as a necessity. The convenience of shopping in the comfort of home has always been a benefit of online shopping, but now it has become a vital facet of eCommerce.

With the rising concern about the pandemic, sales of consumer packaged goods (CPG) spiked to as much as $8.5 billion in the US, and approximately one-quarter of shoppers said they expected to shop online more frequently or for the first time.

eCommerce is now at a critical stage because the changes in customer behaviour point to a trend that will last in the long term. Online retailers have the responsibility to ensure consistent positive customer experiences by keeping communications lines open and aligning expectations, especially in this time of shipping delays and inventory management challenges.

Importance of Customer Reviews for eCommerce

Any online business looking to control its online reputation knows how important customer reviews are. People always prefer to buy products that have a good number of reviews. With more customers turning to online shopping, customer reviews have become increasingly important. They are a way to understand customer sentiment and help in creating positive customer interaction. In the coronavirus era, it may be the only way to promote your product or brand. Below are a few ways customer reviews help eCommerce.

  • It boosts sales.

    Ultimately, this is the greatest benefit of customer reviews. Customer reviews arm customers with information that can help push them to make a purchase. People are more likely to purchase a product that has positive reviews from its users.

  • It increases engagement.

    Customers who leave online reviews are often looking for responses to their reviews or want to see what others have to say about the same product or brand. This online exchange fosters a community atmosphere and creates a bond between customer and brand.

  • It improves ranking.

    Customer reviews are commonly referred to in marketing as user-generated content (UGC), and it’s very useful in maintaining an online presence and building a reputation. The more people talk about you, the more your online search ranking improves.

  • It builds loyalty and trust.

    Customers who take the time to write reviews are those that are really invested in your product or brand. It gives them a voice and an avenue where they can provide valuable feedback to other customers like them. A 2020 survey shows that customer reviews affected the decision of most consumers on whether they will use a business or not.

Changes in Customer Reviews in the Coronavirus Era

In times of crisis, building consumer trust is vital for all businesses both offline and online. It’s important to understand how customers feel about your product and how they experience it. To do this, you need to go beyond the reviews themselves and determine the sentiment behind them. Focusing on the analysis of customer sentiment allows you to craft an appropriate response.

Although customer reviews have long been an avenue for marketers, it’s of more importance now due to the changes brought about by the global pandemic. Customers have time to post and read reviews so more people are relying on them before they decide to purchase. People trust customer reviews, and this is evident in the 104 percent surge in review engagement in just a month’s time.

How can you leverage customer reviews for your eCommerce business? Below are a few tips.

  • Revamp your UGC tactics.

    Always encourage customers to leave reviews—either on your website, social media channels, or third-party reviews sites. Provide incentives for those who actually leave reviews in the form of gift cards, coupons, or rewards points. Treat negative reviews as opportunities to improve your product; they may not always be objective or constructive but they are almost always honest. Respond to them accordingly and show customers that you care through a personalised message or solution that addresses their specific concern. Global marketplace Etsy sells review labels as a creative way to ask for customer reviews. The company also sends a follow-up email or text message requesting the same.

  • Create a Q&A page on your website.

    Customers will have questions about your product or company, especially if they’re new. They want to feel confident about the product they’re about to purchase, and you should be ready to answer these questions. You can’t always be available to respond to customers, however, so the next best thing is a Q&A page on your website. Think of what your customers want to know about your company and product and provide detailed answers. Customers will appreciate this and take it as a sign that you care about them. Google My Business offers a Q&A feature together with its reviews to help businesses connect with their customers.

  • Re-evaluate your review collection methods.

    The current situation is a sensitive time because of the global pandemic. Ask for reviews as much as possible but be sure that you ask with tact and compassion. Get creative with your copy and tactics and ensure that the message you’re sending is neither pushy nor insensitive.

    Aside from incentivising customer reviews, you can also run campaigns that promote positivity and goodwill. American Eagle currently runs a campaign that encourages shoppers to post photos of themselves wearing branded apparel. This encourages users to buy from the site because they see real people, people they can relate to, who’ve already bought from the site.

  • Showcase existing reviews.

    In these uncertain times, it’s vital to take stock and leverage what you already have, where your business is at, and what’s working for you right now. If you have existing customer reviews, find a way to showcase these to help promote your online reputation. These already existing ones will also help if you’re unable to get new ones during the crisis. Amazon is one of the best examples of this, showcasing product reviews on the product page itself. Online clothing shops would also do well with showcasing reviews just like Modcloth.

The change will be inevitable and unpredictable during the COVID-19 pandemic, as evidenced by the sudden changes in customer behaviour. If businesses are to thrive, they need to be nimble and be able to adapt quickly to the ever-changing business landscape.

Now more than ever, customer sentiment is vital and must be monitored so that businesses can respond accordingly and promptly. With no accurate way to predict what will happen in the near future, customer sentiment can mean the difference between making it through and succumbing to the pandemic that is COVID-19.


Sandra RadlovackiSandra RadlovackiJune 2, 2020
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3min684

New research by InstantOffices reveals that UK businesses are likely to face a huge backlog of annual leave requests that could cost businesses more than £250,000, more than 8.5 million people ate currently furloughed at home.

With restriction easing as we head into the second half of 2020, too many employees may request annual leave at the same time posing a risk for most businesses.

According to the calculations by InstantOffices, the cost for companies to pay staff for a minimum of two weeks of annual leave which is outlined in the table below:

The figures are based on the average UK salary and just 50% of leave owing.

Paying out 10 employees could set the business back for more than £10,000 while an SME of 250 employees could face up to £250,000 in costs.

For a small company, paying out 10 employees for only half of their annual leave days could set the business back more than £10,000, while an SME of 250 employees faces up to £255,500 in costs.

With the working population in the UK returning to work, this is one of the businesses’ key concerns, while the government is looking at several ways to assist almost 6 million businesses who might be affected.

Lucinda Pullinger, Global Head of HR at The Instant Group, says: “In addition to the financial challenges, there is a huge wellbeing element here too. Just because we are unable to take the destination holidays we hope for, it doesn’t mean we don’t need a change of pace. The need for a break from work has never been higher. The pressures of Covid-19 on some people are extreme, and protecting mental health is key right now. Taking a break, even if that break is at home under lockdown, is still beneficial, and employers should encourage employees to take their holiday to protect their wellbeing, not just for financial reasons.”


Oliver EhrlichOliver EhrlichJune 2, 2020
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8min843

The COVID-19 global humanitarian and economic crisis has forced individuals and companies to rapidly change how they live and work.

Many elements of business and life are being challenged; in some cases, the next normal may look very different as new ways of working are carried over into the future.

Customer experience takes on a new meaning against this backdrop. Leading organisations are re-orienting their customer experience- and communication efforts to meet their customers’ primary needs, such as safety, security, and everyday convenience. By consciously providing empathy and care for their customers during this crisis, companies can build a foundation of goodwill and long-lasting emotional connections with the customers and communities they serve.

Seven actions to demonstrate empathy for customers in times of crisis

Over the past few months, companies had to quickly act to stabilise operations and safeguard their own employees. With this foundation established, companies have started finding genuine, creative ways to show empathy and emotionally connect with customers.

The following seven actions outline how companies can address essential customer needs around individual safety, security and stability, convenience, ease of use, emotional bonds and trust:

1. Minimise risk by reducing physical interactions

Society’s first responsibility during a pandemic of this scale is eliminating opportunities to spread the virus, especially among the most at-risk populations. Companies have been doing this in lots of ways, such as limiting the number of people in stores, and providing markings to guide shoppers on the right distance to remain apart.

Grocery retailers, for example, have also responded by taking extra precautions, such as extending opening hours for the elderly and healthcare workers as well as free home delivery for the vulnerable and elderly.

2. Actively contribute to safety by innovating the product portfolio

Companies should ask themselves two critical questions: Do we have a product the world needs right now? Or can we contribute to society and rapidly adapt our product portfolio to provide goods that are urgently needed?

For example, some distilleries are using their ethanol supplies to provide materials for hand sanitisers through partnerships with refineries. Others using their manufacturing facilities to support the production of personal protective equipment, or ventilators.

3. Provide pragmatic help to customers in financial distress

As companies are forced to decrease operations for an uncertain time period, individuals and millions of small business owners face massive income and liquidity issues. Providing flexible solutions when dealing with financial challenges is now both a responsibility and a huge trust driver for companies.

Financial institutions and utility providers for example are not penalising customers with charges or service termination for those unable to meet payment obligations.

4. Bring joy and support the emotional needs of customers ‘trapped at home’

Many people are still forced to stay at home, and experience all the concerns that come with that. Companies are acting to make homelife more enjoyable and to also ensure the well-being of their customers.

Families have to entertain children at home, making easy access to online content a truly fundamental need. Telcos are providing free unlimited data, and entertainment companies have released new content ahead of schedule.

As another example, meditation and mindfulness providers, such as the Headspace app, will be providing free subscriptions to healthcare professionals and unlocking free content for consumers.

5. Actively shift customers to online channels

With so many directives around the world to remain at home, companies that previously relied on physical operations have had to direct customers to online offerings.

As an example, since many gyms have been directed to close all physical facilities, they are now offering hundreds of free online home workout courses to members. Companies offering virtual capabilities, as with Cisco’s Webex, are assisting schools and universities as they transition to remote learning by offering free tools for teachers, parents, and students to support the development of online-learning plans.

Companies without online services can find ways to establish and scale online offerings to meet the customer’s digital experience needs. This shift to online and digital channels has the potential to dramatically increase online traffic post-recovery.

6. Stay reachable and treat customers with care in personal interactions

With physical channels such as bank branches and stores less accessible, many customers are turning to other channels for queries and requests that need personal attention and care.

Service companies in telcos and banking are currently experiencing increased inbound call volumes in their contact centres, while at the same time having to shift their customer-service centres to remote-working arrangements. For example, a leading European telco equipped 10,000 call-centre agents with laptops and tool infrastructure within a week, enabling them to take calls from their homes. Companies that provide customers with additional guidance and support can maintain communication and engagement.

While most companies must address reachability, some companies, such as those in the medical industry, face callers who have significantly different types of questions than they did prior to the pandemic. Another key priority is proactively training call-centre agents to manage these new questions.

7. Demonstrate care for the community through company values

Companies can stay true to their vision while showing that they genuinely care about their customers. Actions taken during crises can help build trust and reinforce brand values.

One of the most talked-about company initiatives in Germany came from McDonald’s and ALDI. The two companies initiated a staff sharing plan so that interested McDonald’s workers from temporarily closed branches can redeploy at ALDI stores to ensure that the retailer can meet the currently increased customer demand. Supporting local communities while linking these efforts back to company values is exemplified by companies delivering free, fresh meals to medical workers in the cities they serve.

Forging lasting connections with customers

During times of crisis, leading companies are pivoting from marketing to helping, and from fulfilling customer desires to meeting customer needs. Socially conscious organisations across sectors and geographies are finding ways to get involved and support their customers and communities.

In this respect, the current COVID-19 outbreak is an opportunity to re-think the connections companies have with their customers. Leading in a caring, empathetic manner during these difficult times has the potential to create real connections and new customer experiences, that will outlive the social and economic impacts of the pandemic.

The author would like to thank Fabricio Dore, David Malfara, and Kelly Ungerman for their contribution to this article.


Alon GhelberAlon GhelberMay 25, 2020
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6min1145

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.


Laura MolloyLaura MolloyMay 21, 2020
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4min858

In light of the current situation we knew many of our customers would be extremely worried and it was decided that a simple phone call might be able to alleviate some of their concerns.

Many colleagues within PA Housing volunteered to make these calls in addition to their normal daily job role tasks. Within the general needs stock we are aware that many of our customers would be considered to be in the ‘at risk’ category with regards to the COVID-19 outbreak. A majority of these customers would have been living a very independent life without the need of any support at all.

However, due to the government guidelines, asking all over 70’s to stay in for at least the next 12 weeks, many of our customers could be left feeling very isolated.

Initially, the welfare calls would be for all the over 70’s to check if they are feeling well, have they got support from family or are they self-isolating? In addition to the questions about their health, we also asked about financial their situation and if they have food, often advising them where they can order food locally and from any foodbanks located nearby.

Lastly, we asked if they would like a call-back on a weekly or fortnightly basis just in case any issues arise or if they simply would like a chat.

Many people we spoke to said that they would appreciate a call back just for peace of mind. Anyone that we spoke to that we deemed to be not coping or in need of further support we had an emergency email to send details and issues.

I personally called about 100 customers and the reaction I received was so heartwarming. People were so touched and appreciative. One lady I spoke to said that although she was fine I was the first person she had spoken to in days, and this call lasted for 35 minutes. Another lady who was 96 said she was waiting for a district nurse to visit to dress a cancer wound as they normally do twice weekly. No one had turned up that week and she was extremely worried and in a lot of discomfort. I managed to find out after a few calls and being on hold for about 20 minutes, as understandably they were extremely busy, that someone was attending her property later that day. When I called back the relief in her voice was palpable. There are many more examples across the organisation of good service like this.

As this has worked so well with the over 70’s we have now extended it to the over 60’s. Currently, a total of 3,623 call requests from customers over the age over 60 have been allocated to around 160 members of staff. So far we have made contact with 2,378 customers either by phone, email or letter. Regular call-back contacts are being made to 659 customers fortnightly or weekly. A great achievement, I think you’ll agree.

PA Housing is a registered provider of social housing, offering more than 23,000 homes across the Midlands, London and South East with a range of housing solutions.  PA Housing is so much more than a roof over someone’s head. It offers a wide range of services from support with benefits entitlement to help getting back into employment.  We see it as a priority to deliver a consistent and high standard of customer service as well as caring passionately about the wellbeing of the people we serve.


Mark K. SmithMark K. SmithMay 18, 2020
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5min1550

Recently I have found myself comparing COVID-19 to 410AD, but not because it was the prelude to a new Dark Age, but rather the reverse, that we have been sleepwalking for decades into an apocalyptic future, with no regard for what we are damaging in the process.

In fact, COVID-19 might lead to a new age of enlightenment, where we accept that post-COVID-19 we are all in this together, we need to look after the planet better, and we will be nicer, and better people for it.

So, here are my five post-COVID-19 predictions:

1. Working from home

COVID-19 has necessitated home-based working.

It turns out that working from home can, at times, be more beneficial – take call centres for example. Enabling agents to work from home not only makes sense from a business continuity point of view, but it could also open up access to a new and geographically unconstrained workforce with the desired skills and experience to handle complex queries.

What’s more, with no time wasted on tiresome commuting, likely a more productive one. Read our latest whitepaper to find out more.

2. No-growth economies will become the norm

We have just the one planet, we have just the one atmosphere, we have just the one set of natural resources to use. The economic madness of continuous growth will stop. It does not make sense. An economy should seek zero growth, not up, not down – but enough.

3. Local power production

The power needed to work from home is minimal – a laptop uses about 50 watts of electricity, the equivalent of 0.05 kWh. Using it for a day costs about 5p.

I predict that governments will stop building massive infrastructure projects – like railways, airports, motorways, and the like, and turn to renewable power – wind, wave, and solar. Planning laws will make for zero carbon new builds.

4. New non-profit corporations will emerge

I predict that new non-profit organisations will emerge through technology – whereby technology is the ‘people’. So the technology, with human oversight, of course, makes the profit and the profit is used to develop the technology.

If you want to know what I mean ask me – I have one lined right up and you never know it might help save the world.

5. Biodiversity will rise up the agenda

David Attenborough has shown us the incredible beauty of the planet that we share with loads of other beings. But over that 100 years, we have smashed this fragile museum up.

Worse than an ancient asteroid, we have driven at least 680 vertebrate species to extinction in the blink of a celestial eye. We kill things before we even name them. So with the canals of Venice clear and the pollution maps of the world showing clean air, maybe, just maybe, we will realise that we are part of an ecosystem and if we set fire to it, we set fire to ourselves.

This post-COVID-19 world will change us forever – in the US, pre-COVID-19, 3.6 percent of people worked from home, however, next year estimates suggest that 25-30% of the workforce will be doing so.

Any technology that makes this and life tangibly better, be that proactive communications like my company, or AI that optimises energy usage, or works out the best way to tackle say a virus… they will win.

But more importantly, I hope that we will move into a nicer, better, safer, and less angry world.


David K. JohnsonDavid K. JohnsonMay 14, 2020
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8min1562

The coronavirus pandemic blindsided every organisation.

It not only disrupted business; it also exposed the vulnerabilities in employee experience (EX) and workforce strategy that executives thought they had plenty of time to address.

For example, when only 10 percent of a company’s workforce is working remotely and the rest are in an office, it’s easy to understand why ensuring that those 10 percent feel both included and enabled has always been less of a priority for leaders. But when 80 or 100 percent are working from home, it can no longer wait.

Astute leaders recognise that while the pandemic presents challenges, it also presents opportunities to make lasting improvements.

So while they’ve scrambled to get people up and running in home offices and offered understanding and latitude for employees who have unique circumstances like kids running around, or at-risk people sharing their space, they haven’t yet addressed the enablers that make remote working what it can be at its best – an engaging and rewarding experience, where deep work can get done.

Now is the time for leaders to develop their “listening” strategy and keep it going long after the pandemic is a memory. A listening strategy has 4 key components, at a minimum:

1. An ongoing employee survey program.

It should include both a comprehensive periodic survey (e.g. once or twice a year), and an ongoing pulse survey with no more than 3 questions taken from a rotating pool of questions, and offered up randomly to revolving groups of employees through various touchpoints, such as when they punch-in or sign in each day, visit the intranet, use a company mobile app, etc.

2. Exercises that reveal what surveys can’t.

Exercises can paint a rich picture of what employees’ daily experiences look and feel like for them, such as employee journey-mapping. With it, you can see things that surveys can’t reveal, such as how metrics impact their behaviour and decisions, where there are gaps in tools and processes that are hindering their effectiveness, or how well they understand how their work fits into the overall organisational goals.

3. Targeted, ongoing conversations to gain a deeper understanding.

These will reveal nuances of things identified by the surveys and exercises. The findings should be summarised for leaders to develop an action plan for addressing each area.

4. Action and follow-up, no exceptions.

Clients often express fears about survey fatigue whenever I suggest that they should either put one in place or expand it, and in my experience, the survey is not the source of their fatigue. Inaction and lack of follow-up are.

For every listening programme there has to be follow-up that shares both what the leaders of the organisation heard, but also what actions they are taking as a result. And this communication stream needs to continue until all actions are complete.

As our clients are moving through the complications of this pandemic on their workforces, I’m often asked what questions they should be asking their employees to keep their hands on the pulse of what matters most. Here are a few areas I’ve been recommending they consider asking questions about:

  • Quality of their home working environment: Specifically whether it’s a good place for them to be productive or not, due to distractions like homeschooling kids, shared spaces with others, poor wi-fi, etc.
  • If they’re a parent who is suddenly burdened with childcare and education demands, what might help them if the company could offer it. Examples: remote tutoring of kids, reducing work demands, etc.
  • How well-connected they feel with their manager and colleagues
  • Quality of the technology environment that the company provides: specifically how satisfied they are that they have easy access to the information they need to do their work, satisfied with their collaboration tools, and that the security controls in place aren’t hindering their ability to be productive, to name just 3.
  • If they have any specific concerns such as feeling less relevant, less productive, or less effective, etc.
  • What they will need to feel safe about returning to work, or if there is anything, such as an at-risk parent living with them, etc. that will make it more difficult for them to feel safe.

All of these areas will provide your leadership team with much greater insights that will allow the company to provide targeted support where and when it’s most needed.

Note that Forrester is also fielding a monthly survey now that we’re calling our PandemicEX survey that’s providing insights into how people’s thoughts about COVID-19 in the context of their working lives is changing and evolving.

For example, we’re finding that with each successive result set, people are feeling more and more ready to get back to working in their offices, as before, but that they’re also feeling afraid.

There are a couple of implications of this that I think are worth paying attention to: One of them is that probably 25 percent of the people who started working remotely for the first time during the pandemic will likely want to stay working that way as much as they can from now on.

The second is that you need to be thinking now about what employees will need to feel safe as they return, understanding that we’re going to be dealing with ongoing ebbs and flows of the virus spreading for at least the next year until a vaccine is widely available.

 

David K. Johnson is Principal Analyst at Forrester.

Learn more about Forrester and the firm’s research on Employee Experience here.

 

You may also like:


Komal HelyerKomal HelyerMay 6, 2020
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8min1621

The coronavirus pandemic is unprecedented and unlike anything we’ve ever experienced in recent history. For many brands, this poses a significant challenge – particularly given that there’s no ‘rulebook’ to follow.

At times like these, brands and businesses need to show real agility as the customer experience becomes, above all else, entirely about empathetic engagement.

For certain sectors, providing experiences that are both relevant and considerate of the current situation can be extremely tough. For example, a brand like Secret Cinema usually relies on the physical presence of people attending an event; it’s not primarily geared up for providing remote entertainment. Many restaurant businesses are in the same position; there are likely more restaurant businesses without the operations to run a delivery service that is quite as lucrative as the usual sittings compared with those that run both successfully.

However, during this time, the key to adapting can be as simple as listening to your gut and leveraging emotional intelligence – asking yourself, what does a customer of ours want from us right now if what we’re providing is not an essential product?

As a society, we are all going through the same motions. Now more than ever, we can put ourselves in the shoes of our customers and better understand what they might be looking for from their favourite brands. What’s crucial right now is that brands listen and seek to improve the lives of the public with every touchpoint.

Providing a sense of connection

Whilst we are all in lockdown, the need for connection and keeping in touch with friends and family is heightened – as is the need for a sense of routine and activities to look forward to. With this in mind, the Secret Cinema brand has pivoted to provide a schedule of remote entertainment packages to its ‘community’ of customers through its Secret Sofa project.

Every week, the brand encourages its fans to create their own immersive film experiences at home by providing a series of well-loved films packed with surprises, bespoke content and interactive elements. They have also teamed up with HäagenDazs to provide ice cream deliveries straight to people’s doors. At the heart of Secret Cinema experiences is audience participation and strangers coming together to experience films in new and interesting ways.

As such, they have tapped into new needs – staying indoors yet remaining connecting – whilst maintaining an experience that is still very relevant to its core. Those taking part can dress up and take the participation element as far as they want to.

When lockdown is lifted, Secret Cinema will have continued to engage its customer base by providing them with a thoughtful experience true to its unique values. It will also have strengthened bonds with consumers looking to the brand for routine and a social connection.

Using resources for good

Similarly, when everything feels uncertain and unclear, customers will be looking to their favourite brands for reassurance that they are still going and navigating the crisis. With brands communicating in a way that was similar to before, customers may feel that this brings with it a sense of calm. However, the experiences that come with this need to be different in order to stay relevant.

For example, beauty brands right now may have less relevance in our lives given that we’re all hunkering down at home and interacting with strangers far less. That doesn’t mean to say we’ll never need them again. So, in order to stay relevant and encourage sales in the short term, several beauty brands are showing that they’re giving something back and using this down time to help the cause of fighting the spread of the virus. Some are donating their proceeds to charity, others allowing their warehouses and units to be used to create hand sanitizer, and some are even donating produce for free to key workers within society.

Those that are doing this well and getting through to customers will have secured a place in their minds when they are next in need of purchasing beauty products.

Another great example is Virgin Money’s London Marathon this year, which has been postponed from its original date of 26th April to 4th October. Rather than leaving the 26th April to pass by with no homage to the event that could have been, the event organisers encouraged participation in ‘The 2.6 Challenge’, which aimed to raise funds to fill the gap left by the postponement for many UK charities. The movement has had great success so far and has brought together all corners of society from runners, to athletes to primary school children and the elderly. Resources that would have been used to coordinate the event have now been utilised in a way that does good both to charities and society at large.

Focus on the now whilst keeping your eye on recovery

Likewise, right now, it’s important to stay present to what is happening in the moment but with thoughts also being dedicated to the recovery period. It’s likely that customers won’t be buying and spending in the same way that they used to for quite some time – even when the lockdown is lifted. This means that now is the perfect time to improve your digital customer experiences and prepare for an extended period of time where customers continue to adjust to an even newer ‘normal’.

The brands that survive and thrive will be those taking more proactive steps to engage customers, comfort them, go above and beyond – and really show that they are a support for the community as well as in it for the long-haul. Brands that do well now will earn themselves a great reputation, which will be essential in the future.


Sandra RadlovackiSandra RadlovackiApril 22, 2020
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2min1072

The findings of a sample of 278 businesses of new data from Fresh Relevance show a revenue increase of 60 percent for online retail in the last month.

Online sales fairly increased in the first week of March, only to jump in the following weeks of the month when the UK government introduced the national lockdown rules.

Ecommerce businesses that have seen the greatest growth are toys and games with a rise in revenue to 341 percent, then food and drink businesses and tobacco and vaping sector, both rising to over 200 percent of the normal revenue.

Other sectors experiencing dramatic growth are home and garden, technology and sports and hobbies, with the revenue increasing between 150 and 200 percent compared to the beginning of the month of March.

Changing customer habits have affected office supplies, jewellery and luxury goods, as well as insurance and finance business which have recorded a fall in revenue by 20 to 40 percent.

Mike Austin, CEO & co-founder of Fresh Relevance comments: “The COVID-19 pandemic has seen consumers’ day-to-day routines and habits change dramatically as a result of social distancing measures implemented across the globe. Whilst the impact across the retail sector as a whole has been varied, the temporary closure of many physical stores and self-isolation of consumers has created opportunities for a number of ecommerce verticals. For most of us, the home now serves as a place for work, schooling, exercise and relaxation, and shopping habits in March were hugely reflective of this as everyone was forced to adapt.”


Sandra RadlovackiSandra RadlovackiApril 21, 2020
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2min820

Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust has recently started conducting online health checks and medical reporting using eClinic video consultation software.

The software allows clinicians to exchange medical opinions between themselves, ensuring privacy despite physical distance created by the pandemic. By using the online platform, entire clinic lists can be converted into virtual appointments.

Clinicians can immediately assess urgent patients who cannot attend in person and there are no ‘virtual’ waiting rooms because clinicians immediately connect with the patient.

eClinic software is provided by global cloud communications software and solutions provider IMImobile, and offered to NHS trusts free of charge for a year.

Dr Muhammad Javed, Consultant Paediatrician and CCIO at Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “We have always felt that a significant number of our patients do not actually need to come to the clinic. During the current pandemic, having a service like eClinic has become a necessity. The clinicians are able to tailor the consultation to patient’s needs, which has resulted in improved clinician satisfaction and hopefully will result in improved patient satisfaction as well.”

“The clinicians feel that the ability to provide clear instructions to the patient by in-consultation text chat and transferring information leaflets using the file transfer facility makes this consultation mode safer. The ability to share the screen to show the patients their x-rays etc has also proved to be invaluable”

 

 

 

 

 

 


Alan WatkinsAlan WatkinsApril 20, 2020
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6min1609

Helping staff manage their fear and anxiety will be essential as we move through the Covid-19 pandemic and for those employees in vital customer facing or frontline roles this is going to be especially important.

Most organisations have recognised their legal and moral responsibility towards their employees. Most have directed employees towards practical advice – hopefully from reputable sources, such as those provided by the NHS and WHO.

So far, the focus has been on physical measures- things like hand washing and keeping space between you and others. But given the profound interaction between a human being’s psychology and immunology such guidance is not enough. In fact, organisations should do much more if they care seriously for their employees.

Fear damages immunity

The thing that impairs human immunity more than anything else is the stress hormone cortisol. And what determines the level of cortisol we have flowing around our body is the level of fear and anxiety we experience. The more we panic the worse our immune system becomes and the more likely we are to become infected if we are exposed to the virus.

In addition, how well we cope with the virus if we do become infected is also significantly influenced by our cortisol levels. The more anxious we feel the more likely the virus will replicate and the more likely we could experience complications such as pneumonia, which is the thing that is killing people. Furthermore, the more anxious we are the more likely the virus will linger and replicate in our bodies and this may actually make us more contagious to others.

Reducing fear should be a top priority

So responsible organisations need to not only offer practical guidance they need to offer emotional guidance too. They have a responsibility not to fuel the panic and anxiety. In fact, reducing fear and anxiety for employees must be a top priority for all organisations.

Employees are being bombarded by scary stories on mainstream and social media. Their anxieties are being fed by this stream of news, rumour and speculation. While there is little control organisations can exert over the news reaching their employees from outside, they should take care not to amplify employee fears in their own internal communications.

The right information helps reduce anxieties, and good internal communication is a start when it comes to addressing this emotional aspect of the current pandemic.

Social distancing

Its worth remembering that some of the practical advice might even directly increase fears and anxieties. Where they are able, many employees are being encouraged to work from home, something not always possible for customer facing employees in essential services.

While absolutely necessary from a physical health perspective this social distancing, is likely to affect our mental health too. It can create feelings of isolation which can increase anxiety levels. Without those social support networks in your office, you may feel less able to deal with the anxieties you face.

All of this means, that the best advice for organisations right now to help them reduce the fear and anxieties of their employees is for them to help their workforce to emotionally self-regulate. In other words, to help them move away from a state of fear and anxiety towards a state of resolve.

 

Effectively embrace the classically British mantra “keep calm and carry on”. Panic will not help you. It will reduce your immunity and make you more likely to make the wrong choices for your situation.

Take a positive breath

Effective emotional regulation starts with stabilising your breathing – breathing rhythmically and evenly through the heart area. Not deep breathing and not abdominal breathing. Such a breathing pattern stabilises your biology. Then try and deliberately experience a state of optimism or resolve or patience. Really try and feel this emotion in your body rather than just thinking it.

Positive thinking won’t cut it. Positive feeling will increase the levels of the vitality hormone DHEA in your system. DHEA is the body’s main antidote to cortisol.

Enabling employees to become masters of their own emotional state is critical to reducing fear and anxiety. It’s clearly very relevant to the current pandemic crisis and it’s my strongest piece of advice for organisations right now, but it’s something that will soon be seen as central to any effective employee wellbeing programme once this present crisis has passed.

 


Michelle SpaulApril 17, 2020
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5min1498

“Never make predictions, especially about the future.” Casey Stengel

Given the quote, I won’t say how CX will pan out over the next year to 18 months. Instead, I’ll consider companies whose response to the coronavirus crisis has shown grace and intelligence. These businesses confirm the advantages of customer centricity.

 

Customer communications took a fresh turn with the onset of the pandemic. A gentle trickle of emails turned into a tsunami as businesses described their response to the virus and lockdown.

The emails have a range of messages:

  • Most express empathy and concern for the safety of customers and staff, and described changes in service levels.
  • Bricks and mortar businesses talk about the steps taken to address the safety, social and emotional needs of customers, colleagues and communities.
  • Online businesses reduce prices or offer free services.
  • Some marketing folk contact everyone whose details they have on file, and others select only regular customers.
  • A few make tenuous connections between their services and assumed customer needs (CV or LinkedIn profile rewrites anyone?).

Example #1

My new favourite CEO is Mike Coupe at Sainsbury’s. His weekly emails are empathetic yet practical; they use a humble, positive tone. He describes the actions his team has taken, apologises for inconvenience and asks for support. Sainsbury’s is cementing its position in the lives of millions, which is the outcome we seek when we manage Customer Experience.

Example #2

Death to Stock (an artist-owned co-operative which creates original stock images) has an innovative approach. This month, rather than take photos, they set aside funds to buy from other creatives. They asked their clients to nominate artists and companies who deserve support. In one master stroke, they are helping their community and engaging customers with an action both will remember for a long time.

Example #3

Prime Group is a Nottinghamshire based printing firm. The MD’s wife is an NHS critical care practitioner worried about diminishing stocks of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). She suggested her husband make visors. After an all-night prototyping session and on-site approvals, the business produced 100 visors just 24 hours after the initial idea. Prime aims to produce 10,000 units a day and is using GoFundMe to raise funds to scale up. Many people will remember this act of generosity and the opportunity to contribute to the life-saving work of the NHS.

 

So much for the near-term. Obviously, any company open for business has a better chance of surviving. But have these organisations built a stronger foundation for the recovery period? Have they even helped define the new normal?

By putting their customers, colleagues and communities first, each business has tested and grown behaviours, skills and capabilities.

 

Flexibility. Teams turned challenges into solutions and practiced their skills of change. Their confidence will help their businesses respond to recovery conditions.

Customer first thinking. The examples went beyond the delivery of direct value to existing customers. They built practices and opportunities that meet social and emotional needs. They learnt putting the customer first stokes business performance.

Employee engagement. These organisations faced up to a rapid, scary journey of change. They are building shared identities and values; they are achieving the impossible together. They will continue challenging business norms and delivering ever-better customer experiences.

 

When the crisis phase of coronavirus ends, we must build a new normal. Let’s learn from our successes and build on them as we move into the future.

 

Find out more about Michelle’s CX consultancy at this link.


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8min1854

Woah! What is happening?

The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly caused massive disruption to our everyday lives. There are countless stories of frontline NHS and other key workers being unable to buy essential food as panic-buying has stripped shelves bare, and the most vulnerable customers are unable to shop for fear of contracting the virus. Not to mention those of the population who genuinely cannot cook and for whom takeaway and food deliveries are a lifeline!

Among the chaos, however, food delivery businesses are adapting and continuing to provide vital services for customers.

Achieving this has required a huge shift in thinking and fast action!

There has been a unique collaboration across Pizza Hut, Domino’s and Papa Johns to work together with the Aggregators (Deliveroo, Just Eat and Uber Eats). Collectively they lobbied the government to ensure that delivery staff were able to access key worker status.

Why is this important?

It enables staff to get the childcare and support required in order for employees to be able to keep producing food and providing home deliveries.

Whilst I really don’t like the term Social-Distancing, at a time when Physical-Distancing is imperative to prevent the spread of the virus, we should be embracing Social-Closeness which is of paramount importance for our wellbeing right now.

But how are food delivery companies adapting to the needs of their staff whilst maintaining a service?

One measure is to reduce the menu items available.

Why? I hear you ask! The more complex the menu is, the more inventory required. The make table chiller where pizzas are made has ingredients close together which means the team having to work close in proximity. Most home delivery food stores also have limited workspace. At a time when the kitchen staff need to maintain a physical distance from each other, a simplified menu allows fewer staff to produce the same volume of food.

How are these measures adapted for customers?

The first and most obvious is the introduction of “Contactless Deliveries”.

Customers can let the delivery driver know when ordering where they would like their order to be placed – usually on a portable table or raised shelf. In some cases, the delivery driver carries an empty box to prevent those containing food from being in contact with the floor.

The driver then contacts the customer to pick up their order. The driver then leaves knowing that the customer has been in receipt of their food, and both the driver and customer have not needed to handle the boxes at the same time, maintaining the recommended 2 metre distance.

The second adaptation for customers is the removal of collection from the transaction process. No longer can you pop into the store, place an order and grab a cheeky pint next door while it cooks. Again, to protect all involved, closing the shop to shoppers popping in off the street and preventing collection orders minimizes the opportunity for physical contact.

Thirdly, the use of cash is removed from the equation – we’ve all heard the phrase “Dirty Cash” but in this case it literally could be! So, once again, removing cash payments and reverting to online card transactions only, both customers and staff are further protected. Will we ever go back to cash transactions?

How is service recovery adapting?

As with most large retail businesses there is, sometimes, a need to recover a service issue. Whilst most retail stores will have a phone number, some companies provide an additional layer of Customer Service to customers.

There is a catch though, most customer service teams sit in large contact-centres with multiple data systems needed to resolve queries and complaints. There is also the added challenge of maintaining data privacy and compliance with GDPR which for people working at home is still hugely important.

The beauty of the modern age is that contact centres are now typically managing customer contact through multiple channels. The use of multiple digital channels makes it feasible to move to remote working and still maintain secure customer service.

Making these changes to allow staff to provide the service to the public is key both in providing a community the food services it requires, but also for business survival. Such adaptive responses to COVID-19 have been driven by the need to provide food to customers, but will also provide growth in times of adversity for such brands too.

The ability to continue trading in such hard times places a degree of responsibility to be benevolent and support those who depend on you most.

There has been plenty written about what we will remember when this lockdown passes and the memories fade. Businesses that have adapted and whose motives have been truly customer-focused are likely to be looked upon more favourably.

As a result, the food delivery companies are offering universal discounts for key workers from the NHS, Community Care, Teaching and other Emergency Services. From 50% off, to additional value deals.

For some this is not enough and there are businesses co-ordinating with the London Hospitals to deliver regular weekly food. There are also relationships with homeless charities such as Mungo and Shelter to provide food for homeless people who have been given temporary hotel accommodation during the pandemic.

I admire the reaction and rapid response from the food delivery businesses who have come together to maintain a vital service to their customers, who have adapted to ensure the safety of their employees and who have gone further to gift food to those who need it most. There is only one thing left to say – Thank you & keep up the good work!


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamMarch 27, 2020
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3min2947

All of a sudden, the whole world is focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, and that includes your customers. Should you review and change your customer experience (CX) efforts in response? Yes. Many of the specifics vary by industry, but here are the three essential things that every company needs to focus on.

1. Start With Empathy — Understand Your Customers In This Moment

Surveys alone are not enough and will not give you the right information — especially not in this situation. To build the customer understanding required, you should:

  • Invest in having live conversations with customers now.
  • Get your research professionals onto customer service calls.
  • Proactively reach out to customers.
  • Respond with concrete steps.

 

2. Adapt Your CX Accordingly

Some parts of the experiences you’ve been delivering may have been perfect a few weeks ago but could be all wrong now:

  • Critically review the current experiences you are delivering.
  • Do the same with planned experiences.
  • Hit the pause button where needed.
  • Prioritize simplicity and clarity more than ever.

 

3. Help Your Employees Deliver Great CX Despite The Crisis

They might be frontline staff taking calls from anxious customers. They might be IT staff working around the clock to help the entire workforce be productive from home as companies ask staff to stay away from offices and work remotely. Whatever their role in your company, this is a unique moment for them as the human embodiment of your brand:

  • Employees face uncertainty and anxiety, too.
  • Customers in crisis drive up the stress level for employees
  • Invest in improving employees’ well-being — it will improve CX.

 

This article was originally posted on Forrester  and written by David Troug.

 

If you’d like to read more about these three essentials and you’re a Forrester client, see Improve Customer Experience In Response To The Coronavirus Pandemic.




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