Five rapid-response CX strategies to adapt to the ‘new normal’
- Posted on April 22, 2020
- Estimated reading time 4 minutes
It’s simple. Customers will determine which brands win, and which ones lose. That’s why it’s critical for brands to focus on customer experience (CX) to survive the current situation and get ready for the ‘new normal’. Take action now to realise results fast.
With B2B and B2C customers relying on your digital channels and the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically reshaping ‘business as usual’, it’s time to take action. That means focusing on and investing in digital experiences – not just delivering what people need, through the channels they use, but doing so with relevance, empathy, and speed. Brands must also consider how to do this efficiently, reducing operating costs and maximizing the returns on their existing technology investments. The payoff isn’t just winning customer favor; it’s sustained market relevance and leadership.
We’ve identified five key strategies that can help right now:
Reach out with empathy
It’s no longer enough to simply market your product or service and expect it to drive revenue – you need to build new relationships with your customers through proactive communications, with relevant content on digital channels.
To achieve this, you’ll need a holistic view of latest customer behavior and needs. Start with setting up customer research, content assessment and e-commerce tiger teams. Get help, if needed, to refresh customer journeys and create empathy maps. To further build context, understanding and empathy about your customers, you’ll need to join up content with intelligence so you can better match what you have to sell to their needs Use site analytics, third party data sources, and quick implementation methods for data collection, and AI powered data processing tools.
Be sure to scrutinise your existing marketing and customer outreach. Audit the content on your website and review your content calendar. Make sure you provide relevant and helpful messaging to your audience right now. For example, avoid content promoting in-store traffic, remove content around mass gatherings and replace them with virtual events.
Get help to enable or apply personalised messaging on your website, even if you don’t have full personalisation capabilities. For example, simply add localised messaging based on customer’s location around opening hours for the local branch.
Finally, work on improving marketing automation. From automated data feeds from your CRM to your campaign management tools, to automated campaign flows. More relevant, timely messaging will help customers feel connected and understood. And you’ll see that translate into increased customer loyalty.
Engage with compassion
You need to engage with your customers on a personal level if you want to build a real and lasting human connection.
Encourage customers to come to you by setting up new digital self-service tools, such as online forms for special queries. Take an experience led approach to create more human-centred tools that are easy to use and clearly demonstrates your desire to help with their specific needs.
Invest in your customer service functions and provide staff the training, access to insights, and digital tools they need to really deliver for customers. When customer service agents are able to understand customers with context – their previous shopping history, search patterns, prior service requests – it enables them to resolve issues faster. With the right insights at hand, agents can even offer pro-active recommendations (ex. “Based on how you use our service, you may want to think about doing X which could lower your bills by Y$”) that help your customers derive more overall value from your brand.
Focus on enabling online real-time conversations. Chatbots, virtual agents, and contextual AI assistants are relatively quick to deploy nowadays and are useful for providing real-time updates to queries. But, go beyond basics. Make them more effective by considering their tone of voice and how they will represent your brand. Designing your chatbots with consideration of your customers and their mindset is important to provide a useful and human-like experience.
Call center and chatbot data can provide you with valuable insight into customers’ needs and issues, allowing you to further tailor your offering and messaging based on their feedback and challenges.
Avoid delayed response
The longer customers have to wait to hear from you, the more frustrated they become.
Customers expect quick acknowledgement, at a minimum, so make sure there is quick-response mechanism for every touchpoint and on every channel. Automated acknowledgement and messaging can provide much-needed assurance and guidance in stressful times.
When considering your customer journeys, identify gaps where you don’t have response mechanisms in place. If you have set up new online forms to capture customer queries, make sure to acknowledge receipt of their query online with an email, or text.
Get better visibility of friction points by enabling sentiment analysis add-ons on your existing customer engagement platforms. Use low cost press and social networks insight extraction tools to identify bottlenecks.
Run a quick assessment of your contact centre, customer service processes, and CRM platform. Make sure you are using full capabilities of your existing platforms in setting manual and automated response flows.
Some customers require special attention, may reach out more often than others, or ask for the same thing repeatedly. Get help from marketing insight and data analysis tools to help you identify these cohorts and react appropriately. For example, consider special messaging on the homepage or new FAQs that align with different personas/cohorts.
Deliver what’s promised
It probably goes without saying that if you don’t deliver on promises, your customers will start looking elsewhere.
Start by assessing your products and services. Are they relevant to latest customer needs and do you have capability and capacity to deliver? Monitor both constantly, in real time. In retail, for example, ensure stock levels are up to date and accurately reflected across your systems, on the website, and in other communications. You don’t want to leave customers empty-handed – in store or online.
Use add-ons and quick integration methods to improve product catalogue integration across ERP, CRM, Marketing, e-commerce platforms and your website.
Show your customers you are open for business but manage their expectations up-front.
If you can’t deliver right away, communicate honestly and provide assurance. Let customers know of delivery timelines, any replacement services or options that might be available and always give them the choice of whether to accept this or not. For example, include messaging on your homepage about average delivery times or let them know about replacing in-person meetings with online versions.
Yield to customer needs
Last but not least, the best way to get through the current crisis, and succeed in the future, is to put yourself in your customers’ shoes. UK banks providing up to three months mortgage payment holidays for those likely to be impacted by COVID-19 is a good example here.
Stand ready to deliver not just what they need, when they need it, but also offer products and services they might not have yet considered. Have you started to think about ways to lower renewal cost for your customers?
To get into customers’ heads, start by setting up multifunctional teams across product, marketing, sales, customer service teams. Create emotional customer journey maps to identify customer expectations, and extract pain points.
Enable, or add quick to deploy AI and customer insight tools on your existing customer engagement platforms to help you make data-powered prediction about their future needs. Use this insight to reshape products and services to address known and unspoken customer needs.
Use web tracking and customer data collection and analysis tools to identify bottlenecks in the online customer journey. Enable personalisation features of your CMS platform to create more empathetic online journeys and deliver relevant content in real-time.
It’s time to get ready for the ‘new normal’
In order to succeed in the current climate and continue growing once we return to business as usual, it’s important to start rethinking short-, medium- and long-term customer engagement strategies. Because, business as usual will be based on the ‘new normal’.
We’ll be exploring these rapid-response strategies further in future blog posts, so be sure to keep an eye out. But in the meantime, reach out to me for more information.