We live in a world where service provision and the care of customers comes in many forms, whether that’s down the end of a phone at a call centre, retail, restaurants and bars, and many other service providers. These businesses; either Business to Consumer (B2C) and Business to Business (B2B) facing, or both, all have to deal an ever evolving set of challenges. With such a competitive landscape for many businesses, it’s critical we continue to provide the best customer experience possible.
Businesses often comprise the traditional High Street route and the rapidly growing and evolving online offerings. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggests 33% of all retails sales are now online (June 2020) which is a 26% increase from a decade earlier.
With the challenges Coiv-19 has presented around social distancing and safety – this trend will continue to climb, and this also means whatever customer service role we are in, we will be required to rise to this new ‘normal’. Customers will be expecting an approach which is a streamlined, pandemic safety conscious and a ‘new frontier’ in the way we all provide excellence for our customers.
Here are some critical universal factors I’d encourage any customer service facing business to consider in keeping their business as efficient as possible:
- Adaptability and transparency – whatever type of customer facing organisation you are, making customers aware of any Covid-19 related changes is critical. These can include: new working and opening hours and procedures, reduced footfall capacity, and contact and response communications. Listening and reacting to customer concerns can help to build customer trust in these challenging times. As well as a clear Covid-19 safe approach face to face at the business – following the latest Government guidelines, digital communication must also be regularly updated; social media and the website must be current to assure customers you’re doing all you can to deliver a safe, efficient service. If you offer a telephone service or call centre approach, ensure this is staffed as best it can be so it doesn’t create a hugely frustrating automated response experience where the customer feels like they’re giving up the ‘will to live’, as they grow increasingly frustrated, electing automated options or are held in a queuing system. There are plenty of negative examples out there since the pandemic has impacted us, sadly. This will ultimately affect your brand reputation if not managed positively.
- Optimising remote technology – It helps if organisations have a cloud-based system such as Microsoft SharePoint and have regular update meetings via video conferencing platform Zoom or collaborative platform Microsoft Teams to highlight any changes or successes with the team, and so that ways we communicate can adapt and continue to evolve. Ensure something as simple as customer email enquiry accounts are being monitored effectively and in a timely manner. You’ll be surprised how often simple things like this get overlooked.
Evolution and responding to changes – Highlighting a step-change process internally and the ability to provide clear customer information and advice is key. This is where clear internal leadership direction is critical – disseminating top-down, new and evolving expectations, processes and communication approaches is critical to a smooth and efficient remote service. This may involve reordering and reorganising the business approach and structure to meet the new demands of the customer. We are in collective unchartered waters currently, and with the challenges presented since the pandemic lockdown began back in March, we’ve all seen businesses adapting and developing new ways of working throughout the months. Flexibility and listening are key to success here. Remember, we are all on a journey, mistakes and lessons will be made, but it is important to buffer this from the customer as much as we can.
Alternatively, read the Government guidelines for businesses on Covid-19 safety.