Proactive customer communications critical during a crisis

Ashley Sava

Regardless of what local officials say, COVID-19 isn’t going away May 1. Unemployment, lower consumer demand and stress will carry on for months, possibly years. There is still time for businesses to be proactive in their communication with customers, though, even if they were off to a slow start.

Approach before being approached 

Brands that take-charge to engage with and comfort customers will maintain positive reputations and relationships in the long haul. Practice empathetic engagement by reaching out to your clients before they come to you with concerns and doubts. You have to take the time to understand their perspectives and fears and take the steps to meet their needs before they express them. 

Your contact center agents should be able to use emotional information to guide thinking and decision making. Continuous training in these soft skills is always important, whether or not a pandemic strikes. Hold a training session for all employees who have direct contact with customers and teach them the best ways to show empathy and understanding, while also addressing client concerns and needs. Customers want to talk to real humans with real personalities and real outlooks. They want businesses to ask them how they can improve their lives and situations, not the other way around. 

The follow-through can make or break you

Attentively listening to and following through on what customers say they need, whether or not it is beneficial to your operations in the moment, makes all the difference. While some customer needs might result in loss in the short-term for your company, ignoring these needs can harm the future of your operations. Done right, it will pay off dividends. 

Your CX strategy needs reevaluation 

Even if you had the most successful customer experience strategy in play prior to this, efforts will need a makeover in the current climate. At Tethr, we deployed a new set of machine learning categories on Coronavirus and launched a dashboard for our customers to follow customer mentions of COVID-19, and how those interactions are being handled by agents. This allows our customers to keep up with operational indicators their companies should monitor during the pandemic. Our customers take these insights to take steps toward improving their customer interactions, hence, giving their CX a little extra love.

Use new programs to accelerate near-term success 

After finding out what customers need, businesses have started launching new programs and initiatives to give their customers what they’re asking for. These new efforts don’t need to be seen as band-aid solutions, though. Instead, remember that these innovations can help you retain and gain customers after the fact as people will see that your business is able to continuously evaluate and evolve efforts to stay valuable in uncertain business climates. For your business, maybe a new strategy means rather than spending more on incentives to push sales, you use funds to increase your digital user experience: addressing lagging stream times, fixing up shopping cart errors or digging into pages with high bounce rate. Rectify the areas of the customer journey that need attention. These kinds of measures will help accelerate your customer experience, and eventually, your bottom line. 

Companies that take proactive steps to address customer needs demonstrate the customer centricity your clients are asking for. Do everything you can to solve problems and never let feedback slide through the cracks.

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