COVID-19 has devastated lives and livelihoods all across the world in a short amount of time. It has also compelled customer experience professionals to reconsider what customer service and experience entails.
It will be critical to have a real-time pulse on shifting customer preferences and to innovate quickly, more than ever before, CX professionals told CMSWire. Customer experience strategies, when combined with these mandates, can shape short-term reactions, help CX professionals develop resilience and position customer-forward firms for success in 2022 and beyond.
It's a challenge many company leaders have taken head-on for nearly two years now, and we've caught up with some to discover major CX lessons learned through this pandemic and the focus going forward.
The Best Customer Experience Is Personal
In the aftermath of the pandemic, many customer experience professionals noticed customers became a lot more worried, easily annoyed and more demanding. While you should never discuss personal matters within customer service, you should listen to and appreciate when customers provide some personal context regarding their troubles. Using an empathic approach and understanding tone also helps. The tones and word choice alter as the dialogue progresses, according to Baidhurya Mani, CEO of SellCoursesOnline.
Making customers feel comfortable creates a loyal customer base, he added. Looking at hard data only helps, too.
“Due to the rise of AI since everything went digital in the pandemic," Mani said. "10% of our customers were unsatisfied with the customer service they received from the company."
Despite the assistance of Artificial Intelligence, it became considerably more difficult to alleviate their tension and irritation. As a result, the company concentrated on the fundamentals: connection and empathy. Empathy means providing customers with genuine assistance that is unrelated to marketing or acquiring a competitive advantage, Mani said.
Empathy, on the other hand, should not stop with customers and should be extended to the staff by giving them with new tools, training and support that will allow them to provide the best customer experience possible. By doing so, both your customers and staff will recognize that the company is a resource they can rely on and that they can feel safe despite today's uncertainties, according to Mani.
Happy Employees = Happy Customers
Customers' patience is wearing thin. And companies compete on customer experience. In fact, 87% of companies do so, up from 36% in 2010, according to Gartner. To alleviate the additional load on customers, CX professionals searched for methods to make things easier for them. From improved self-service tools to shorter hold times and transfers, these little changes helped to mitigate the load.
That approach, in turn, can improve employee experience. Many companies and employees can agree that when an employee is happy and content with their job, customers will be happy and content when doing business with the company.
Leanna Serras, chief customer officer of FragranceX.com, saw that providing a personal touch to clients has become more vital than ever during COVID-19. In 2020, the company reported a 71% rise in customer support call volumes. One important lesson gained is that happy staff equal happy consumers.
"The customer isn’t always right if the cost is employee well-being," Forrester's Judy Weader and Sam Karpinski wrote in a 2022 CX predictions piece. "Customers are realizing that brands are sacrificing employee welfare on the altar of unsustainable customer experiences. In response, more customers are voting with their wallets, switching their business to brands that treat their employees better."
Compassion Goes a Long Way
Jonathan Tian, co-founder of Mobitrix, agrees with this principle. “During the pandemic, caring for consumers begins with first understanding the staff,” Tian said. “Our analysis exhibits that more than 60% of employees were highly anxious about their safety, job security and income. So, you need to first care about the ones who work for you, i.e., employees.”
Prioritize developing an inclusive culture, fostering social contact among staff and promoting a shared sense of purpose. This strategy, Tian said, resulted in an improvement in customer service ratings in 2020.
Being compassionate is critical to the reputation of the organization for which you work, Tian added. This comprehensive strategy, which stresses the balance of experience and assurance, is the only winning recipe for giving solutions to consumers that will make their lives simpler in ways they will really utilize. Helping and training your employees to conquer the chaos of customer service and customer experience, he added, will drive your business forward and straight to success.