We’ve been in customer experience quite a while now. To paraphrase Liam Neeson – we have a very particular set of skills, skills we have acquired over very long careers. And we’d like to use what we know to help you help your customers when so much is out of your control.
Below are five tips we think CX pros will need to get through…well, whatever this is. Let’s call it “the other CX,” the coronavirus experience.
Some will apply to you, some won’t, because we’re all impacted by this crisis, but not in the same ways.
So treat it like toilet paper and hand sanitizer: take only what you need and share the rest!
Practice social distancing, not emotional distancing.
You’re not going to build your customers’ trust and loyalty if your messaging and actions focus on what this situation means for your company, rather than approaching it from your customers’ perspective. Emotion drives loyalty – in a world where so much is changing day to day, that remains a constant. Connect on an emotional level or risk alienating your customers.
Put your mask on first so you can help others.
(Figuratively, of course – please save the real masks for those who need them!) What we mean is now is not the time for companies to ignore their employee experience (EX). In the best of times, if your EX is filled with friction points and unmet needs, your employees are not going to be able to provide a good experience for your customers, and your company will suffer. The most productive thing you can do right now might be to see what you can do to help your staff. Check in to see what they need, so that they are best positioned to give you their best.
Silence is golden.
You’re under no obligation to communicate with your customers just because every other company seems to be. It’s okay to let the dust settle if there isn’t specific information you need to convey right now. In other words, don’t speak until you have something to say. And consider whether you can say it on your website instead of an email blast, so you can give your customers the space they might need right now and the ability to access the information when they are ready for it.
This pandemic isn’t something you’ve “done” to your customers, and they know that. But in the thick of things, they might not realize it’s happening to you, too. Our common humanity is a strength right now, and it’s not a sin to show how the sausage is made. If, for example, your call center hasn’t been operating at peak efficiency this week, it’s okay to (gently) remind your customers that might be because your sales reps are also working from a hastily arranged workspace at the kitchen table with their antsy kids 10 feet away. (We had a client take a call from inside a closet!) This crisis doesn’t give you permission not to follow through on your brand promise, but you don’t have to be unnecessarily stoic.
Keep an eye on the long view.
Your customer journey might seem unrecognizable today compared to even a week ago (for example, brick-and-mortar retailers), but what’s left is still a journey, and the experience you deliver matters, and will impact how your customers view your company once this crisis is behind us. Be mindful of that.
We have always found the CX community to be strong and supportive. So there’s one more thing we want to share:
Given the nature of our CX work and our journey mapping methodology, we have a lot of experience with online tools and platforms, particularly tech for virtual meetings. So we’ve got a leg up on organizations (like yours?) that are just now diving into remote work as a result of social distancing requirements.
As you’re probably finding out, this brave new world is challenging if you’ve relied on face-to-face meetings and water-cooler conversations for productivity. Even we are scrambling to innovate and accommodate and devise new solutions for our clients.
So let’s do what our CX community does so well: support each other. We’ve set up a group on LinkedIn where we can all share what’s working for us, and what’s not, as we set up new ways to do business.
For example, did you know you can leverage Zoom and Stormboard capabilities to establish a sense of normalcy, and even have a little fun? We’ll tell you how. And you can let us know what tools and workarounds you’re employing and enjoying. (Especially if you figure out a way to share office birthday cake virtually – will someone please work on that?)
Also, since Jim has some unexpected openings in his schedule because of cancelled conferences and meetings, we’re setting up free one-hour crisis communication consultation sessions via Zoom for past and current clients.*
What steps are you taking to assist clients during these extraordinary times? Join the group and participate in the conversation, or just check in. We’d love to hear how you’re faring.
We will get past this. Unfortunately, we have to go through it first. And it’s increasingly likely it’s going to be a marathon, not a sprint.
Here’s hoping we can all stay positive, and test negative, for the duration.
– Your Heart of the Customer Team
*Unfortunately, we can’t extend this offer to everyone – if we didn’t create your journey map, we don’t know your customers! – but if you’re not already an HoC client and still want a consultation or journey mapping (or even a motivational virtual keynote), get in touch. We’re working on new and better ways to serve companies during this period, within existing consulting capabilities, but also through innovation, such as a virtual version of our journey mapping workshop so employees can build new skills during this “downtime,” and an expedited state-of-your-customer analysis that goes from interviews to reporting in just a few weeks, to give you a better understanding of what your unique customers (or employees) are thinking and feeling during this crisis (email us for more info).