The rise of COVID-19 currently determines public discourse like no other topic. Besides the far-reaching effects on society, the global economy is also facing enormous challenges. In view of the measures taken by politicians to slow down the spread of the virus, companies are now facing complex hurdles. The following tips are designed to help companies organize their customer experience management in order to emerge stronger from the challenges at hand.
Even though the market volume is likely to experience a significant slump in the coming period across virtually all industries, people will continue to shop and consume. In the current situation, it is particularly important to listen to the voice of the customer because of the uncertainty that permeates almost all levels of society. What topics and questions are occupying customers? Where are possible pain points in the ordering process? Are products delivered on time? Is customer support available? To this end, companies should keep a close eye on all channels that collect customer feedback as well as proactively ask for it.
In order to be as accommodating as possible when communicating with customers, it is advisable not only to listen attentively to customers’ problems and concerns but also to anticipate and address them consciously. This can take the form of entertaining or educational content - for example, infographics, short videos, blog posts, or white papers. These can be distributed via various marketing channels in a target-group-specific manner or placed at strategic points in the customer journey. Companies that manage to show their customers that they really care during difficult times will be rewarded with higher brand loyalty.
Just as we as citizens expect politicians to communicate issues that directly affect us in a clear, coherent, and transparent manner, consumers expect companies to do the same. If, for example, delays in the supply chain are to be expected, having a direct impact on end consumers, it is advisable to communicate the circumstances proactively and transparently. If the customer service team is not fully staffed due to illness and it is therefore becoming apparent that customer inquiries cannot be processed in time, companies should also be open with their customers about it. Suitable channels for communicating such content are, for example, personalized emails or social media. The newsletter and the company's own website can also be included in the communication plan.
Another central aspect that companies should not neglect in times of crisis is flexibility in regard to their offering. Understandably, given the current economic situation, the natural reflex for many is to focus on short-term revenue growth to meet quarterly KPIs and build a comfortable financial cushion. Nevertheless, companies should evaluate how they can meet their customers' needs with special offers. Specific measures could include reduced shipping costs, additional payment methods, extended return periods, or discount and loyalty campaigns. This strategy has the potential to increase customer loyalty and thus customer lifetime value in the long term. Especially because it is unclear how long we will be exposed to this extraordinary and demanding situation, companies now have the opportunity to leave a lasting positive impression on their consumers.
The same attention companies pay to their customers should, they should also pay to their employees - after all, they are struggling with the same issues. How will my employer deal with the situation? What is our financial situation? What is the best way to provide support to the company? How do I manage to remain productive while working from home? Can I look after my children while I work? Will I keep my job? All these are central, even existential questions that a company should address clearly and transparently in order to minimize uncertainty as early as possible. To evaluate the employees’ internal needs, it is worthwhile to obtain feedback from the team on a regular basis. This can be done, for example, by using the Employee Net Promoter ScoreⓇ (eNPS).
In summary, professional customer experience management during a crisis offers the opportunity to increase customer loyalty and customer lifetime value in the long term, and thus emerge even stronger from this challenging situation. Companies should pay particular attention to listening to their customers' feedback, proactively addressing any concerns with entertaining or educational content, as well as maintaining clear and transparent communication. In addition, it is advisable for companies to maintain a certain degree of flexibility and goodwill with regard to their offering and to give high priority to the needs and concerns of their employees.