When COVID-19 (COVID) first came in, it was understandable that some businesses could not cope, or had to change how things were done and do their best customer service. Whilst I have heard some businesses received a small amount of customer abuse, on the whole, people have been very understanding. However, what I’m seeing now very often is messages saying there are huge delays due to COVID-19 and social distancing. If you are a business using this phrase a lot (and still), you may not like reading this article, but perhaps it’s best that you read on.
Customer Service amidst COVID-19
Remember that customer service isn’t just how we answer the phone but it’s the whole experience in dealing with that business starting at the first moment that person has reached out to the business. Customer service can (and hopefully does) span years and decades – if you value your customers and clients. If the parcel takes a week to get somewhere, you need to improve that. I know for a fact, in the middle of COVID I could order something online and it would be at my door 2 days later, even with higher than expected demands on courier services, hygiene and social distancing – it can be done! That to me forms part of ‘good customer service’.
- COVID has been around in Australia now for more than 5 months – we are now at a point of a new ‘norm’. The supermarkets have sourced, installed and use cash register shields for almost a month now. If you don’t have revamped systems in place, what are you waiting for? Our world has changed and whilst some things will change back, I believe other things will become the new ‘normal’. What are you waiting for? Why are you dragging your heels?
- Change is rarely embraced well by all. It’s just a fact many people dislike change, however as I stated above, things have changed and some of those changes won’t revert back. Adopt good change management practices and support your team to both handle and embrace change within the business.
- Be solutions focussed; if things need to change, find a great (or at least better) solution. I know one consultancy business which is refusing to answer their phones; they are only talking to clients via email and even when asked by a client to please ring, they don’t. They just send a half response via email several days later. If you have staff working at home, perhaps that may continue at some degree. For that reason why would you not invest in some mobile phones on relevant plans? Alternatively, if you know your staff won’t be staying operational from home, then allow them to use their own mobile phone asking them to block their number and seek reimbursement of call costs. This is far better than simply not returning calls to clients and customers.
- There are many businesses struggling at present. I’ve noticed an increased marketing presence by some business as they battle to win the dollars of new prospects. Do you think your competitors won’t be trying to wow your customers and gain additional business? Neglect them now and you’ll lose them forever.
- There is an opportunity here to impress. Especially if you’re an online business, more and more people are going online, so start impressing early and make the most of these opportunities. For this reason, if you are online consider reasonably priced (or free) postage. Streamline your shipping system so that orders are actioned same day in order for them to be received within a day or two at most. If your courier company is slack, then shop around; I know many businesses who have exceptional speeds on delivery; it’s do-able.
- Start thinking like a winner, not a victim. Victims use excuses and blame others for things which don’t go perfectly well. “Times are tough because of COVID”. “We have to do all these extra things because of COVID, it just makes it impossible to do a good job.” Is that the talk of a winner or a victim? If those businesses who are strong and resilient see challenges as an opportunity in disguise, then they will embrace those challenges and don’t waste time complaining or blaming or making excuses, but rather make plans, strategy and action steps to move on and up. It’s all about attitude and attitude starts at the top. If the business owner has a lousy attitude, that goes deep down to the team.
- Are you monitoring the message your team are putting out, or which is your message to customers? At the end of the day, the buck stops with the business owner (just like attitude starts with the business owner). You can’t blame your staff if you don’t lead by example, guide them, re-educate them and support them to provide their very best. Invite them to talk to you about challenges, because together you can work out a solution. Remember that old adage “two heads are better than one”.
- If you’re struggling, seek help. As an experienced business coach, I assist clients with all aspects of their business, from the money side of things to marketing, sales, systems, time management and team. None of us is perfect or knows everything and seeking help (in my view) is not a sign of weakness but a sign of being smart. Many of the best leaders in business surround themselves with people who are smarter, better or more knowledgeable than themselves. Business coaching is not just great for those struggling, it’s excellent for those who may be doing very well, but want to do even better. There is almost always room for improvement.
As an experienced business coach, I work with many varied service-based businesses. Some are professional services, some trade services and some are medical or allied health service-based businesses. Whether it’s in Brisbane, Queensland or Australia-wide, I assist clients to start, grow and improve their businesses. I offer a range of package plans, options and add-ons. It’s purely a matter of reaching out to me to talk more about what you are looking for and what you want to achieve. Whilst I have systems and processes, my one-on-one service is customised to each individual business’ needs. It’s all about you!
If you’d like to talk to me about your business just drop me an email or call me on 0411 622 666. I’m here to help! Alternatively, as the many stimulus packages or grants come out, I alert my email database; if you’d like to be added to that, please click here.
Let me leave you with just one thought about customer service. Many business owners are focussed on getting a client, more than keeping a client. Firstly, it costs seven times as much to get a client than to keep them. Secondly and most importantly, consider the life of a customer? If you’re a supermarket, then potentially someone can be a customer for say 65 years. Image someone spends on average $250 a week. Each customer potentially could be worth more than $845,000. Why would you not spend a bit of effort looking after your customers? What is the average life value of your typical customer?
Make a spectacular week everyone!