The Coronavirus pandemic has left people exhausted and stressed. This trickles into the lives of customers and reflects how people interact with customer service and sales teams. What’s more, your business might have noticed a spike in customer calls for help this year.
Despite the chaos of the pandemic, good customer service can help companies stand out above the fray. In fact, 65 percent of consumers polled by the International Council of Shopping Centers said the quality of customer service is a factor when deciding where to make their purchases
Here’s how your team can stand out with consistent customer service during a tumultuous time.
Develop customer care practices with empathy
This pandemic serves as a healthy reminder to develop customer service guidelines in ways that help your customers. Approach issues with compassion, empathy and the goal of helping people.
Peter Dorrington, the founder of XMplify Consulting Ltd, recently reviewed how customer behavior changed during the COVID-19 pandemic. He noticed that, as a result of heightened anxiety levels, customers also began expecting businesses to be more understanding and flexible with their issues.
This doesn’t mean that you need to give away products or issue refunds to every customer. Nor that a service representative should spend an hour on the phone with one person. Leading with empathy means being flexible. Provide a personalized experience that meets and exceeds your customer’s needs and expectations.
This focus on empathy can also help your sales team pitch to potential clients. Because it gives them a chance to better understand the needs and pain points of their leads.
Look for long-term solutions, not band-aid fixes
It’s understandable that your business wasn’t fully prepared to go into lockdown, very few were. However, the early months of the pandemic have passed. Now companies can move away from panicked, short-term decisions into long-term customer care practices.
A study reported that in China there is a 55 percent increase in consumers who want to permanently shift to online grocery shopping. Furthermore, the share of customers over the age of 45 who use eCommerce increased by 27 percent from January to February 2020. McKinsey and Co. also highlights China as a bellwether for Europe and the United States, as the Coronavirus spread there first. Similar shopping and consumer trends around the world reflect Chinese behavior.
Finding a new normal for your customer service processes doesn’t mean you should return to what was before the pandemic. It means that your customers will want to keep certain changes and won’t return to their usual behaviors. Just think about the remote work trend that will continue even when this is all over.
Now is the time to build customer service infrastructure around these behaviors rather than trying to just get by or even change them.
Evaluate how your customers want to reach you
The pandemic has been the catalyst for a variety of new trends, from video hang outs to hands-off curbside pickup. However, your customers might not want to follow all of these trends when interacting with your brand.
In this study, 67 percent of Americans said they would prefer an in-person appointment for certain issues (like appliance repair or cable/TV) compared to 33 percent who prefer video appointments during the pandemic. Even tech-savvy generations like millennials preferred in-person meetings, with only 39 percent wanting video or digital appointments.
And let’s not forget the Lazarus effect this pandemic had on voice communications. This is your opportunity to market and capitalize on the undeniable comeback that telephony has made.
Review the customer care trends and technologies that are available to you. Then, review what your customers actually want.
Empower customers to help themselves
If you’re still overwhelmed by your customer service demands during the pandemic, look for ways to delegate customer issues through help centers, self-service tools, and fact pages.
One Zendesk benchmark of 23,000 companies found growth in help center views in fitness companies increased by 195 percent at the start of the pandemic. At the same time, customer service tickets only increased six percent. Other industries saw similar help desk growth and used these systems to mitigate ticket increases.
If you want to free up your customer service team or reduce the number of unsatisfactory customer experiences, look for ways to empower your customers to solve minor problems on their own.
Know your customers before you try to help them
The core of good customer service revolves around understanding what your customers want and need from you. This will help you provide effective solutions while connecting with your target audience in a meaningful way.
The actions you take during this pandemic can help you build up a strong customer base that stays with you for years. Furthermore, good customer service comes first and is an essential ingredient, now and in the future.