2020 has been a year like no other. The impact of Covid-19 on businesses of every shape and size, across all sectors, has obviously been unprecedented. Change has been forced upon virtually every organisation as they’ve endeavoured to adapt and endure.

CX teams always work hard to balance big picture business change alongside day-to-day operational and tactical success, but given the new reality, now is surely not the time to rock the boat unnecessarily. There’s nothing to be gained by making it harder for our customers to do business with us or to ask customers to do things differently if it’s only for our benefit. At a time when budgets and resources may be stretched (not to mention nerves, priorities and mental health), it really is vital that we focus our efforts on treating customers – and staff – fairly by doing the right thing.

In the CX space, this means prioritising initiatives based on what customers will value the most and which will have the biggest impact on the bottom line. After all, we have got to help businesses stay afloat at the same time. But let’s do so by understanding what customers need and want and doing something about it.

We’ve seen great examples of this during lockdown from the leading supermarket brands who have put their customers first by establishing measures to manage stock levels and identifying vulnerable customers for home delivery, for example, and providing clear communication and messaging instore and online about new Covid-friendly processes.

Unfortunately, we’ve also seen tremendous short-sightedness from others. Shutting down phone lines, forcing customers to queue and refresh all day in order to secure an online chat so they can halt automatic balance payments for holidays anyone can see won’t be going ahead – this is not a plan that will increase customer loyalty and repeat purchase.

So while we are all understandably under pressure to do more with less, it’s worth remembering that if we want to drive engagement and build trust amongst our customers, we need to listen and support them now, when they need us most. Customers will remember how they were treated.

We can support customers well by making sure that we either reinforce or start to put the basic bits of theory into practice. Plus, wherever possible, bring those you need in your organisations along with you as you strive to provide the best customer experience possible during extremely challenging times.

This means working to harness resources from across the business, integrating systems and adjusting processes – all of which involves more cross-team working than we’ve done before. Doing things differently won’t necessarily be easy but an agile response is going to be essential. Those responding well to the changes Covid-19 has forced on us all have demonstrated this already – so don’t just take my word for it! Look at those you think have done ‘the right thing’ and unpick why it is you believe that.

We’ve also got to work as hard as we can to keep things as simple as possible – otherwise we risk leaving our customers and colleagues behind, isolating ourselves – and not in a good way! This means making the most of what’s right in front of us.

To be specific, we need to:

Use existing data: there’s plenty of it in contact centre records, emails, complaints processes, CRM databases….do you really NEED to ask for more?

Try it for yourself: (I know this is easier in a B2C setting) – ask if the experience you see matches up to what you think is good enough. Take your corporate goggles off and try to really see what the customer sees. Perhaps start with the online experience because that’s more important now than ever before. Simple example, I just tried to order some flowers from John Lewis, but the website didn’t recognise my saved password. I hit the ‘Reset’ button, as you normally get an email within a minute to get you up and running again, yes? No. So I moved on to M&S and ordered through them (because I’m that impatient!) I set up a new credit card and got the email receipt from M&S pretty much straight away, while still no reset link from John Lewis. Snooze you lose business. Get the basics to work. No excuses.

Close the loop: If you are missing a vital piece of insight and decide to send out a survey, make sure you let the customer(s) or employee(s) who were a part of the survey process know that you have listened and will act on their feedback.

Focus on insight: the value lies not in data itself but what the data is able to tell us. Translate data into insight so you can clearly see the warning signs of dissatisfied or at-risk customers, or broken processes, and gain a deeper understanding of the overall customer experience.

Take action: there is no point seeking customer feedback if youignore customer complaints or fail to remedy customer problems. You risk them cancelling a service, switching to a competitor or sharing their negative story on social media. Action management processes can analyse customer feedback as it comes in and alert you to issues and problems that need an immediate response.

Now more than ever, it’s vital that we don’t take hard-earned trust for granted so getting these ‘basic’ elements right cannot be overstated.

Donna Kempster, Customer Insight Manager at Computacenter agrees: “We are passionate about long term customer value and relationships; our Voice of the Customer programme runs through all layers of our customer experience framework and we use this valuable insight to agree objectives and priorities that are aligned to the Customer requirements and enable continual improvement and innovation resulting in relevant and long-term value for customers. During this current climate it has been vital for us to understand our customers and seek to strengthen our relationship by being flexible to their needs.”

Donna Kempster will be joining Phil Durand in a CXPA webinar – ‘CX Realities: How Computacenter brought employees along on their CX Journey’ – on Thursday 22 October 2020 at 7pm BST. To join the webinar, register here.

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