Below is an article by guest blogger Rebecca Jo. As an experienced business coach, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of customer support. Another statistic is that we lose 68% due to a perceived lack of indifference – aka customer service. With decades of experience in business and helping other business owners, I know that often customer service (particularly for small business) is the one thing we don’t get around to. We focus first on marketing and then on improving our sales processes (both of which I can certainly guide coaching clients with) however, customer service is left till ‘later’. Interesting though (another stat) it costs 7 times as much to get a new client than to retain an existing. Check out my blog The Skill of Upselling – Minus the Hard Sell. – Donna
There is no question that COVID-19 has fundamentally changed how businesses operate here in Australia and across the globe. Yet despite the challenges and adjustments businesses face, one thing hasn’t changed: the need for good customer service. While the pandemic may be used as an excuse for a drop in services, this won’t wash with the majority of consumers. A report by CITE Research covering global customer service trends found that Australian consumers are more likely to stop patronising a product or service due to bad customer service.
Despite this disdain for bad customer service, Australian consumers have been more understanding in this time of COVID. This is why your organisation should be embracing change in the same way consumers are adjusting to the new normal. A good place to start is in customer support, which is a crucial element of excellent customer service, especially given the challenges businesses are now facing (e.g. supply chain disruption, reduced workforce, etc.). With that in mind, we’ve prepared this guide so your business can improve customer support during and after COVID-19.
Listen to your customers
It cannot be understated enough the importance of listening to customers, as doing so will allow your company to identify areas of improvement that may not be immediately obvious. This is why you must actively seek consumers’ input, as it’s also a great way to connect with them. To ensure this, an article on going the extra mile for customers on Verizon Connect emphasises the need to put in place a customer feedback mechanism that will escalate consumer concerns beyond your complaints team and straight to you. Gather as much feedback as you can too, and incentivise customers to accomplish survey forms. Look up your business name on social media as well, as consumers nowadays often turn to it to air out grievances. By being proactive, you’ll get a better pulse on what they want and need.
You must acknowledge your customers’ fears and apprehensions. Then, go the extra mile and reassure them that your organisation is prioritising their wellbeing. Tell them how you’re adapting to the new normal, and how you’ve put in place protocols to ensure customer safety. You can even send out messages of support and solidarity across your social media channels, as global brand Coca-Cola did recently when it posted an online message saying, ‘Staying apart is the best way to stay united’.
Recalibrate customer rep responses
A Harvard Business Review guide on improving customer service during COVID notes that standard customer-service policies won’t cut it during this pandemic. That’s why you must update them not only to reflect current realities but also to empower your customer service reps to come up with innovative ways to solve customer concerns (thereby avoiding redirects and needless back and forth and reducing customer effort in the process). It will take both a cultural shift in policies and some retraining, but the trade-off will lead to a customer experience that has adapted to their current needs.
This pandemic will end sooner or later, and when it does, don’t revert back to the pre-pandemic status quo. Instead, strive to continue the practices you’ve instituted, like actively seeking feedback, showing empathy, and recalibrating customer service responses. In short, continue to be proactive, and keep looking for ways to improve not just your customer support mechanisms, but also the entire customer experience.
Transition to ‘Customer 360’
Michael Maoz of Salesforce introduced to ZDNet the concept of Customer 360 — a set of processes (like the ones mentioned in this guide) and supporting technologies (social media, communication platforms) that help create customer engagement. Through Customer 360, your organisation will be able to shift seamlessly from focusing solely on closing transactions to actually building relationships with customers. It’s a long view approach, with the reward being improved customer loyalty and retention.
COVID-19 has challenged businesses to adapt in ways they could never imagine. But that doesn’t mean the foundations of a great enterprise have to change. A good customer experience must always be at the heart of a business, and this is even truer for Australian companies during this pandemic.
For those who need to keep their businesses aligned with the current situation, check out the services that Stone Business Coaching offers, for specialised professions and fellow business coaches as well. We will cover every facet of the business to help you grow your business.