Having Proactive Customer Experience In a Crisis
A proactive customer experience being positive to an organization is a given.
We all know the importance of it and a successful business will have developed a system that caters to their customers’ needs effectively.
Companies that prioritized and effectively managed customer experience were 3x more likely than their peers to have significantly exceeded their top business goals in 2019
This, of course, is under normal circumstances. How does it change during a crisis? What does it mean to have a proactive customer experience during times like these?
Today we’re going to be taking a look at how the business approach to customer experience shifts in times of crisis, why it matters and the processes that can be adopted by SMBs to help adjust to meet these needs.
Customer Needs Are Shifting
The current pandemic has completely upended the ways businesses are undertaking their work—sending their employees to work from home en masse and having to deal with major disruptions in global supply chains.
People are anxious about their short-term and long-term futures, and in circumstances like this they will look to their vendors or partners for support and reassurance.
CX drives over two-thirds of customer loyalty, outperforming brand and price combined, according to CX leaders
While we tend to like to see ourselves as completely rational when it comes to decision making, the truth is a lot more nuanced—emotional needs matter too, and customers will flock towards organizations that focus on more than getting them a good deal monetarily.
42% of consumers worldwide would pay more for a friendly, welcoming experience. And among U.S. customers, 65% find a positive experience with a brand to be more influential than great advertising
Consumers right now want support, guidance, and to know that you’ll be there to help them get through the current crisis.
Most importantly, customers have long memories—they’ll remember if a business was more interested in sending run-of-the-mill discounts as opposed to reaching out to ask how they’re doing. It’s crucial that companies keep their messaging on-point and stay sensitive to how the customer is feeling.
How Can You Help Your Customers?
While the vast majority of organizations have been hurt by the pandemic, a select few have profited enormously—Zoom probably being one of the best examples of this.
Most of us, however, are trying to deal with it in the best way we can—reducing costs and maximizing sales wherever possible.
That also means not just seeking out new verticals for sales, but also making sure that existing or repeat customers have everything they need.
Organizations should be asking themselves whether they’re catering to their clients as well as they could be.
How are they affected?
What impact has the crisis had on your customer? It’s difficult to know how you’re going to approach them and what messaging you will use if you have no idea about their particular situation.
Use the data you have available to your advantage. What industry are they in? Is it one that has been more affected than others?
Are they a retail business that needs to scale back their support for the near future, or an educational institution that needs help with product supply? Maybe you’re an online retailer and need to pivot to offer your customers another product that they need.
The answer could be as simple as a message of support or a completely new offering, but you won’t know until you pay close attention to your customer base to figure out their needs.
Make Use of Digital Technology
We recently published a blog looking at how ERPs can help businesses dramatically improve their ticket resolution and customer service.
It wasn’t written in the midst of the current crisis, and was meant as being pertinent to the struggles of organizations under more normal circumstances.
The relevancy of using a tool like this for a proactive customer experience, however, has never been more apparent.
Company support teams are being inundated by a raft of questions and queries from all angles, to the envy of no one.
According to Intercom, nearly half (47%) of support teams report that inbound volume has increased since the outbreak and by an average of 51% above their normal volume
The increased volume is affecting businesses of all types. 54% of B2B support teams are seeing increased volume, along with 45% of B2C support teams.
In short, whether you’re B2B or B2C, there’s a lot on your plate, and if you don’t have all the tools at your disposal, you’re going to have a much harder time dealing with this new influx of support tickets.
Strongly consider getting an ERP with a customer service element that will support your customer service efforts—as an example of its use; it can provide you data for the most frequently asked questions and how much time you’re spending dealing with them.
If there are particular queries that are taking up an inordinate amount of your time, you can clearly deduce them and create an FAQ page to redirect your customers.
Proactive customer experience gives you the chance to figure out common issues and address them as quickly as possible, and in times like these customers want answers right now.
Maintain Your Communications
Now that you know the needs and concerns of your customers and have an effective way of dealing with them in place, you must maintain your positive communication and continue to build on the relationship.
In a crisis, customers will typically want reassurance for a few major things, most likely:
- Will you be able to continue to deliver your product or service to the customer right now?
- Will you be able to deliver after the crisis is over?
- Will you be able to support them and their difficulties at this time?
Of course, much of this will have been addressed during the early stages of discovering their needs, but what about for the long-term?
It’s very important to maintain your communication and be consistent with your message.
In a time of heightened anxiety, small and midsize business owners will not be pleased if you check in on them during the first week and only hear radio silence from then on.
Social media channels
66% of consumers have used three or more communication channels to contact a brand’s customer service
Maybe you love the social media aspect of your business, or maybe you think it’s a tiring chore. Either way, it functions as vital part of any modern customer outreach strategy.
Use Twitter to post updates on any rapidly-changing situations that your customers may need to know and keep an active presence on your LinkedIn and Facebook profiles to let them know you’re still there for them.
Use social media as a tool to head off anxieties before the customer feels the need to fill in a support ticket; be sympathetic in your messaging.
Most importantly; temper your traditional marketing campaigns on social media, be warm, and be conscious that customers need a friend in their time of need.
When a crisis comes, everybody loses; businesses and customers alike.
After this current crisis subsides, like other aspects of life such as remote work, customer service is unlikely to go back to normal, if for nothing else because virtually every business in the country has had to put in place measures that they can (and should) keep in place.
The most important takeaways for SMBs during this time are:
- Be understanding and empathetic to the troubles and concerns of customers—many businesses have been taking a “We’re all in this together” approach
- Use technology to your advantage and let it help you set up a streamlined system for dealing with customers in as quick a way as possible
- But don’t forget to maintain your human connection with them—continue to interact with customers; let them know you’ll be there for them and be positive in your approach to reduce their anxieties
Long after this particular crisis is over, businesses should be keeping many of the practices they are now putting in place.
The organizations that are looking after their customers with proactive customer experience in the hard times now will be remembered and rewarded once the ship steadies and we’re out the other side.
In 2020, businesses must use digital tools to improve their processes, whether it’s an ERP for analytics to improve their customer experience, or a phone app that streamlines a task on the warehouse floor, there’s a piece of cloud technology for anything.
To find out more about how cloud services can help you, download our eBook, “Which Cloud Option Is Right For Your Business?”