The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a global humanitarian and economic crisis. Millions of lives are at risk. People are forced to adapt their work schedules and daily routines to the ever-changing mandates and guidelines enforced to contain the spread of the disease.
The abrupt transition, coupled with the fear of getting the virus, has threatened to undermine the mental health of so many individuals.
Companies big and small are also doing their best to navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic. Many have crafted an effective crisis response and adjusted daily working practices to protect the well-being of employees.
Amidst this backdrop, customer service is taking on a whole new meaning. This article takes a look at what providing positive customer service looks like during a pandemic.
Excellent customer service requires identifying and understanding the pain points that people have. Amid this global pandemic, there has been a significant shift in customers’ needs.
A McKinsey survey of US consumers conducted in March 2020 found that 64 percent of respondents have felt depressed, anxious, or both over the past several weeks. Thirty-nine (39) percent also said they would be unable to pay their bills after one month of unemployment.
The typical customer experience approach involves the creation of seamless, convenient, and engaging customer journeys. However, today’s customers need safety, security, and everyday convenience. As such, leading organizations are reorienting their customer service efforts to address these primary needs.
Smaller businesses can follow suit by developing genuine and creative ways to show empathy to their customers. That said, here are three ways to provide a positive customer experience.
- Minimize risk: Eliminate any opportunities to spread the virus within business premises. One way to do this is by reducing physical contact by offering options to order online and have products delivered or picked up. In-store, it could mean adding self-checkout counters and extending hours of operation.
- Offering assistance to customers in financial distress: Providing flexible solutions to clients dealing with economic challenges is now a part of corporate responsibility. It can hurt a business in some respects, but it’s a huge trust driver.
After securing personal safety, a customer’s next concern is often financial. So they will lean on companies that offer lower interest rates or those that won’t penalize them if they don’t make a monthly payment on time.
- Bring joy and support: The threat of COVID-19 has forced a lot of people to say at home. The uncertainty of the current situation can lead to feelings of helplessness and despair. The lack of personal space can lead to anxiety and frustration.
Companies that go above and beyond in acting to make home life more enjoyable, while ensuring the well-being of their patrons, will amass a following of loyal customers.
Customer service has taken on a whole new meaning amidst the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic. Understanding customers’ pain points remain crucial. This means that companies, from small mom-and-pop businesses to big multinational organizations, need to identify customers’ primary needs and address them accordingly.
An empathy-focused approach will speak louder than any iteration of a “we are here for you” message. Adding that personalized touch, whether through creative custom packagingor even a simple handwritten thank you card will show sincerity. That a brand isn’t just out there to sell products but actually cares about its customers.
At the end of the day, the companies that are consciously and consistently providing empathy and care during the pandemic will emerge as the true champions in delivering a positive customer experience in times of crisis. They are the ones able to establish a foundation of goodwill and forge long-lasting emotional connections with the communities they serve.