A global pandemic, the intelligent lockdown and the social unrest that this entails has radically changed our lives and that of our customers. These events have also changed the demands that consumers place on the companies they interact with. In these times of cold and chilly detachment, which we try to bridge by using Facetime and Google Meet, among others, we are increasingly looking for companies that act personally, with integrity and empathically.
What about customer service strategy in your organization? Is the customer really central to this?
A major crisis puts all aspects of an organization’s relationship with its customer under the magnifying glass. All relationships have an emotional component, and that certainly applies to the relationship people have with a brand or company. The relationship with customers is built over time, nurtured by experiences at many online and physical touchpoints in their journey, based on expectations, and confirmed through repeated interactions.
Digital service first or customer first?
As a manager, you are bombarded almost daily via LinkedIn with offers for software to further digitize processes and systems. Whenever possible, you should switch to digital or automated human interactions (Whatsapp, chatbots). And while no one will deny the importance of digitization, many of the offerings, however, are only aimed at increasing the number of customer transactions rather than improving the ultimate customer experience. The irony of that focus is that, during this pandemic, research (KPMG) has shown that genuine attention to customers is becoming increasingly important.
End of digital self-service buffet?
In the time of COVID-19, which forces stores to close and people to keep a meter and a half away from their family, friends and acquaintances, it is no longer good enough to make these experiences simple and efficient. The ‘digital self-service buffet’ (you can choose how you communicate with us, but by default we send you to the cheapest channel) no longer suffices.
Does this mean the end of self-service? Certainly not, because many people like to turn the knobs themselves. However, it is preferable to act more and more empathically, so also in these virtual channels. So, if you haven’t already, think about how your organization deals with customers. You will have to surprise them, especially during this period, with unexpected and caring gestures if you want to bind them permanently to your organization.
Customer-centric benefits Voordelen
This applies to almost all organizations. For example, research has shown that hospitals that exceed customer expectations see that their patients are more likely to follow the advice of the doctors. A nice side effect during this pandemic. Satisfied customers of online retailers often buy more products over a longer period of time. It also takes less effort to convince them to pay their bills.
This applies to both the business-to-business and the business-to-consumer sector. A crisis therefore also offers opportunities. All organizations are now being assessed on their behavior during this crisis: Has your organization helped its customers during this difficult period? Have you shown empathy in handling that complaint? So there is no better time than now to focus within your organization on customer service strategy in which the customer and exceeding his or her expectations are really central.
This blog is written by Eelco Krikke, manager of www customerinsight nl