How to keep your customers top-of-mind during a crisis
by Philippe Aussant, on Apr 20, 2020
A crisis can have reverberating effects on the day-to-day of customers and brands alike.
As we are seeing with the COVID-19 pandemic, customer needs and behaviors can shift in a time of crisis. But also, how we go about meeting these needs. Uncertain times can bring stress and concern to us all as consumers. As a result, it can impact what we expect, and look for, in a brand to help us navigate these times.
While crises force brands to adjust their priorities, Customer Experience (CX) should always remain at the top. Listening to your customers, understanding what they need, expect and feel during this time is essential, as is making sure key stakeholders have the tools to support your customers quickly and empathetically.
In this post, we look at four steps you can take to ensure your CX Management efforts stay customer-centric during challenging times.
Step 1: Listen to your customers on all your touchpoints
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us as consumers to adjust how we go about completing daily tasks. Self-isolation, closures of physical locations, social distancing – our customer journey is shifting online as we all do our part to minimize the spread of the coronavirus. Kantar reports that as countries move deeper into the pandemic, web browsing increases by 70 percent.
Customer needs and expectations will evolve during a crisis. Listening to your customers and collecting customer feedback on all your touchpoints will help you understand:
- How your customers' needs, expectations, and perceptions differ from touchpoint to touchpoint
- How well your brand is meeting these needs and expectations
- What your brand can do to further help your customers navigate this crisis
To collect these insights, it's recommended to use a tactical approach to your surveys, something that our VP of Insights recently examined. Whether it's engaging customers who visit pages with COVID-19-relevant information with a short, tactical survey or reaching out to customers via SMS or email with a survey after an experience with your customer support team, providing your customers an avenue through which they can share their thoughts is crucial in these times. Plus, it can help glean more insights as to how you can calibrate your CX efforts as a crisis develops.
Of course, with the sensitive nature of COVID-19, it's imperative to be considerate with your CX program and measurement. Only ask questions that will help you take action, and consider some of these do’s and don’ts with your customer experience measurement.
Step 2: Automate the sharing of CX insights
A 2019 PwC study found that 41 percent of senior executives feel they are most vulnerable with their "ability to gather appropriate information quickly" when a crisis hits, while "communicating with external stakeholders" is not far behind (38 percent). These items are critical and interdependent on one another to help brands and customers navigate any crisis.
Information must move fast within an organization, and even more so during a crisis. Quick and easy access to the right insights and feedback is critical to a speedy response, and to drive strategic customer-centric decisions for the mid- to long-term.
Integrating customer feedback with your existing data systems and Customer Experience dashboards is key to making this happen. Likewise, automating the process of extracting insights from your customer feedback, such as using a text analytics tool and sentiment analysis to gauge trends and sentiment surrounding the crisis in your open-ended feedback, can help your front-line and CX design teams take action quicker.
Step 3: Close the loop with your customers
Front-line teams face a lot of pressure during times of crisis, as we look to brands to help us adapt to our changing needs and to help us navigate uncertain times.
With COVID-19, for example, Zendesk reports that brands faced a spike in average weekly ticket volume in late March compared to this time in 2019.
Collecting customer feedback on all your touchpoints is critical in times like these. Acting on it and closing the feedback loop on it promptly, is even more so. Closing the loop not only helps improve individual customer experiences – it can unearth insights that can drive your CX design and strategy to serve better all your customers moving forward.
There are a few elements to instill to mobilize your team so they can close the customer feedback loop effectively. In times of crisis, when speed is essential, getting the right insights to your front-line team quickly plays a key role in helping your brand help your customers navigate a crisis quickly and empathetically.
Step 4: Repeat, but more frequently
Steps 1 through 3 are critical to managing customer expectations in the short-term. Repeating this process with your CX program, and more regularly than you might usually do, helps ensure you can always stay on top of your customers' needs in fast-paced times.
Repeating this process frequently helps you understand:
- How your customers' needs are evolving over time
- The impact of your efforts in meeting these needs
- How you can best help your customers navigate the crisis today and over the coming weeks and months.
COVID-19 is having sweeping impacts on everyone globally as we all navigate these unprecedented times together. By continuously listening to your customers, and by getting the right insights into the right hands at the right time, you can ensure that your Customer Experience Management efforts remain customer-centric, in a time when your customers need you most.
Top image source: Pexels