Customer service crisis management: How to monitor and respond to emerging issues

Sara Yonker

May 16, 2022

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If you’re on the brink of a customer service crisis, how soon would your team realize it?

Scandals, emergencies, and messes erupt at even the world’s most trusted brands. We all remember the e-coli breakout at Chipotle, the data breach at Target, or the missed Christmas deliveries at FedEx. These can disrupt customer loyalty, sink stock prices, or worse, end careers and companies.

Many companies have crisis communications teams ready to prepare statements and fix mistakes when business operations misfire. But those corrective actions happen after problems surface. A crisis management plan helps once you spot the threat –- but how do you recognize it? 

On the front lines sits your customer service team. They’re often the first to learn about problems. The right tools can measure when a scattering of incidents becomes a pattern that needs a business response. 

Your team members in customer facing roles need to prepare for not only the potential of a news-making catastrophe. They also need to know how to spot the trending problems that indicate several customers face the same problems. 

What is a customer service crisis?

What makes a problem become a customer service crisis? Organizations of all sizes face dilemmas every day. Risk management planning and rapid business responses can keep them from blowing up into a full-blown customer service crisis.

Many customer service problems only happen to one customer at a time. When several customers share the same problem, you need to develop a plan to address the issue.
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The types of customer service problems that can develop into a full-blown crisis stem from both internal and external causes. They include: 

  • Technology: Crisis situations occur during data breaches, server outages, website downtime, or other technology mishaps. Problems may last moments or could have ripple effects for months.  
  • Product: If something goes wrong with a product or service you’re selling, your customer support teams will know about it soon. To know how many customers share the problem, you need to measure it. These problems can result in product recalls or product redesigns, but if caught early, you can prevent major trouble. 
  • Public image: A negative story gains traction about your company, employees, or products, or a post on social media goes viral. These stories can have a ripple effect on your customer service team. It's essential to control the issue and include customer service team members on response plans. 
  • Outside events affect your business:The COVID-19 pandemic affected businesses in unexpected ways. Natural disasters or problems with partner businesses you depend on can also create issues for you.  In these cases, you can’t always prepare, but you can develop a business response to keep customer satisfaction stable. 

How to spot trending customer service problems 

Customer support should stay on alert to all emerging threats, but that can prove difficult. In today’s remote work culture, decentralized contact centers with agents working from home make it harder for them to share anecdotal information.

Tethr, an AI-powered conversation analytics platform, monitors 100% of customer interactions and measures customer experiences. Many companies turn to Tethr for its capabilities in analyzing customer journeys, call metrics, and agent performance data. 

Tethr also measures more, though. Once integrated with your exciting call or chat systems, Tethr can tell you:

  • What new issues prompt calls to customer care
  • The percentage of calls for each particular issue over time
  • Detailed metrics around particular issues. For example, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Tethr created custom reporting dashboards for customers to understand how the pandemic affected their businesses. 

Customer service crisis communication

Once you identify a problem, whether it's bad experiences with your product or a much larger issue, you can begin to develop a response as a company. Your crisis management team should include a plan for customer communication. To deliver great customer service, you must empower your agents to be a source of truth in the crisis. 

Your resulting customer-facing communications should address the issue openly, with an aim to improve customer trust and pay attention to customers’ feelings.

Tethr can help tell you exactly what your communications should include, and how to address the issue on multiple channels such as live chat and calls.  

Why conversation analytics is part of crisis management

When dealing with a new threat to your company, conversation analytics can monitor spikes in customers mentioning the issue and judge their sentiment around it. It can also use initial conversations about the problem to prepare for future calls. 

Here, Tethr helps deliver quality customer service by understanding how customers react to your agents’ responses. You can use that data to help you determine which response works best. 

Ready to learn more about conversation analytics? Book a demo today and get a look at how Tethr can help unlock business insights for your company.

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