Guiding your business through a crisis requires a strategic plan. Avtex suggests implementing a four-phased approach, including Contact Center Stabilization, Business Continuity Expansion, CX Alignment and Employee Experience Calibration.
In our last blog post in the series, we reviewed the second step in the strategic process, Business Continuity Expansion, and explored the steps you can take to empower your staff to remotely support customers.
In this post, we’ll continue to the third phase and examine the steps you can take to adapt your Customer Experience strategy to meet your customers’ needs during a crisis.
Phase 3: CX Alignment
The critical nature of an interaction is also heightened during a crisis – when under stress, we tend to place heightened importance on the things we are trying to do, including resolving an issue or obtaining information. Any roadblock that gets in the way of a resolution is also magnified.
As such, it’s more important than ever before to deliver effective and consistent experiences that align to the unique situations customers may experience during a crisis. Delivering these exceptional experiences in the midst of anxiety will create a lasting memory for your customers.
To align your CX with customer needs during a crisis, follow these important steps.
Reduce Customer Effort
While it is important to make it easy for your customers to do business with you on a regular basis, it is even more crucial to reduce customer effort during a crisis. The more a customer must work to resolve an issue or find information, the more frustrated they will become, and the more likely they will be to abandon the interaction and complain about the experience to their peers.
To reduce customer effort, take the time to:
- Review each step involved in interactions:Carefully examine every potential interaction your customers may have with your brand. Focus on those deemed most pressing, such as payments or account updates. Identify any steps in the interaction that are not absolutely necessary and eliminate them. For example, post interaction surveys are not necessary for the customer to execute a task – suspending the survey step for the duration of the crisis will reduce the stress on customers and improve their overall experience.
- Communicate often using multiple channels:Information is key to setting customers at ease during a crisis. Make the effort to convey critical information regularly, and across multiple channels. Helping customers avoid having to hunt for information will put them at ease and alleviate many of their common concerns. Effectively conveying information will also limit the volume of incoming interactions and free your agents to focus on resolving more critical customer issues.
- Think creatively: During a crisis, supporting your customers and reducing their stress should be your focus. Explore every potential strategy for achieving that goal. For example, recruiting non-contact center employees to act as additional customer support will ensure adequate response to a high volume of interactions.
By reducing customer effort during a crisis, you can deliver experiences that your customers will truly appreciate and remember for years.
Address the Functional AND Emotional Needs of Your Customers
During a crisis, it is important to address the functional and emotional needs of your customers. Of course, you want to help customers resolve their issues, but you also want to take the time to provide emotional support whenever possible.
Keep these strategies in mind to ensure that your customers’ emotional needs are met:
- Listen and respond: Being cognizant of the emotional impact of a crisis is important. It’s also important to gauge your customers’ emotional state and needs by listening as much as possible. Identify common emotions and concerns, then take action to support customers in those areas. For example, if multiple customers convey frustration regarding a specific lack of information, take action to improve your communication efforts.
- Focus on empathy: Rushing customers through interactions during a crisis can seem like a helpful strategy – resolving their issues quickly and effectively is always good. In times of crisis, however, taking the time to connect on an emotional level is important. Train your agents to focus on empathizing with customers. Simply asking customers how they are doing, or if there is anything the agent can do to help in this troubling time will go a long way toward putting customers at ease and creating a memorable experience.
By addressing the emotional needs of your customers during a crisis, you can help put them at ease and make them feel valued when they need it most.
Up Next: Phase 4 – Employee Experience Calibration
Addressing your employees’ needs and well-being during a crisis is critical to morale and effective operations. In our next blog, we will explore step 4 in the strategic crisis response process, Employee Experience Calibration.