As the post-pandemic economy opens up, there's been a lot of chatter about the hybrid workplace. The debate between remote and in-person offices looks poised to continue far into the future. But another important topic doesn't come up as often in these discussions: the future of the customer experience (CX). As traditional retailers stage a comeback, how will it influence the customer experience? Will classic, in-person CX interactions become a focal point? Will online CX remain at the front of the pack? Or will we see a hybrid of the two?
As is the case with the office, the last option is most likely. Going forward, we'll likely see a split between ecommerce activity and in-person sales. That said, here are a few CX strategies to consider while refining your plans for the transition ahead.
1. Integrate Your Remote Workforce
With a re-emphasis on traditional retail, it’s tempting to panic and shed your pandemic-inflated remote workforce. And, to be sure, there are areas where many companies will need to rehire onsite workers again.
Think twice before you cash out your remote customer service agents, though. While a remote team does sacrifice that physical, in-person element, there are many other benefits to a remote staff. You can recruit better talent, provide more flexible schedules, and reduce overhead.
Rather than making the expensive shift away from remote customer service reps, look for ways to improve your existing setup. Experience.com recommends starting with a focus on engagement. The experience management company reports that engaged teams can improve profitability by 21%.
You can address this through solid communication, emotional support and daily check-in schedules. These can help your employees remain interested and happy. It also allows you to keep the same, already-trained remote workers integrated into a hybrid online/in-person customer experience.
Related Article: Online? In-Store? Get Ready for the Era of Phygital Shopping
2. Keep Your Team Informed and Equipped
As the customer experience evolves, it can set off a chain reaction of change which can impact the way your business operates.
This can have a detrimental impact on your customer experience if left unaddressed. There’s nothing as disconcerting as a customer contacting a company only to be greeted by a confused employee on the other end. Or worse, a customer not knowing how to contact a business in the first place.
To avoid this issue, keep your staff up to date with any and every change that impacts the customer experience. As you adapt to new customer expectations and behaviors, always pass the information along to your team.
This should come in two forms. First, keep your employees up to date with any new information they may need. Relay changes in procedures and policies as quickly as possible.
In addition, equip your staff with the tools they'll need to provide the best customer experience possible. A plethora of tech tools are available to help keep your customers happy as they interact with your company at various touchpoints. These can be as simple as a quality communication tool or as complex as a CRM tool or a contact center as a service (CCaaS) platform. While the specifics will vary depending on each scenario, keeping your staff equipped with the right tools should be a priority in the turbulent times ahead.
Related Article: 5 Ways Industries Are Adapting to Post-Pandemic Challenges
3. Maintain a Growth Mindset
Tools and knowledge are critical factors in the day-to-day operation of a business. They help manage the small-yet-impactful changes that are taking place in the customer experience all the time. But it’s important to keep the big picture in mind, too.
Don’t let yourself become married to a specific customer experience formula. With so much in flux, chances are companies will be reacting to change for a while — and that’s a good thing. With so much competition in the modern markets, being able to offer a cutting-edge customer experience isn’t just a nice bonus. It gives you a bona fide competitive advantage.
That’s why you need to maintain a positive, growth-oriented mindset moving forward. According to Stanford Professor of Psychology Carol Dweck, a growth mindset embraces the idea that people can continually develop new talents through effort and investment over time.
This applies to a business, as well. As the customer experience continues to evolve, make sure to gather and analyze relevant customer experience data to inform your customer journey. Don’t treat success as an endpoint, but rather as a stop along the way as you perpetually perfect your customer experience.
Perfecting the Customer Experience
The customer experience is undergoing a rapid evolution at the moment. The pandemic caused a huge shift to ecommerce, which created a new customer journey. As things pull back to traditional retail models, things are going to change again.
Chances are, though, they aren’t going to go "back to normal.” Instead, the customer experience will morph into something new. It will incorporate elements of both online and in-person experiences.
To manage this, companies of all kinds should work to integrate their existing personnel, remote or otherwise, into the solution. They should also keep their internal teams well equipped and informed about any changes that take place. Critically, they must also maintain a growth mindset as they evolve with the customer experience going into the future.
If those three elements can be addressed, it will allow any organization to maintain an advantage over their competition in the months and years ahead.