by Kurt Schroeder and John Seeds
During any time of change, customers understandably feel wary and uncertain. Change can be both good and bad, but notably, it's often our past experiences that color our current perspectives on change.
This isn't always good. After all, most of us have had at least a few bad experiences associated with big transitions in the past. However, with the right customer experience (CX) strategy, your brand can enable your customers to approach change with fresh eyes and see them as opportunities instead of threats.
The "New Normal"
The “new normal” created since the pandemic began has demanded more from our customers. With every company operating differently, customers have been tasked with figuring out for themselves how companies are choosing to operate in this new environment, and what they should expect when it comes to their interactions. At the outset, some companies shut down completely, while turned exclusively to digital solutions and others remained committed to a business-as-usual approach. In many cases, often because of unique industries or products, some brands have been forced to create a hybrid operating model, existing somewhere in between.
Yet in many respects, customers are experiencing easier interactions with businesses than they were before. With industry leading brands using the pandemic as an opportunity for digital transformation, many customers are now able to take advantage of fully online or automated interactions. Customers now have a vastly expanded array of tools and options to help meet their expectations - literally at their fingertips or in the palms of their hands. Curbside pickups, free delivery, virtual meetings, streamlined bill pay, shorter wait times on phone calls, and many other conveniences have sprouted up to help ease the transition. These are all wins for customers.
With that being said, the biggest shift the pandemic has catalyzed is the push for companies to move away from traditional interaction formats and more toward digital solutions that create frictionless customer experiences. But how does this trend impact your brand and your customers?
Why Consistency Is the Best Policy
Imagine walking into your favorite coffee shop, and asking everyone in a coffee shop to leave for just a few minutes while a bit of maintenance is done, take a quick walk around the block, and come back in. Guess how many will come back.
Maybe a few. But not everyone.
That's why no coffee shop owner in their right mind would ask their patrons to do this. Savvy brands understand the need to keep a consistent environment for their customers — even when something changes. Right now, every brand is dealing with the same situation, trying to manage customer expectations and interactions in the face of tremendous uncertainly while maintaining loyalty and continuing to drive revenue.
Customers want to know that they can trust and rely on the companies they work with — especially those they work with on a regular basis. That is why intentionally designing and optimizing your customer experience strategy is more important now than ever. Even in the face of this crisis, your brand can continue to build customer loyalty by truly knowing your customers, crafting intentional experiences that help them, and communicating how much you value them. At Avtex, we use this as a guiding philosophy for partnering with our clients, articulating it as our “Know Me, Help Me, Value Me” approach to customer experience consulting.
Still, despite all the preparation, planning, and strategy that brands can put into their CX, sometimes you do have to "do maintenance," implementing some sort of change. And while the change will eventually end, and everything will return to normal, consistency is an absolute necessity to ensure that your customers don’t experience friction and disruption during the transitional period.
So how do you do this?
Strategies you can use for a rock-solid customer experience strategy:
- Invest in the journey. Every time your customers work with you, they take a journey. What do you know about that journey? Do you know what it entails? Have you taken it yourself? Do you revisit it often? Do you have a team of employees whose sole job is to continually research that journey?
- Check in with your customers. You need raw data from your customers. You need to know their pain points. What happens that irks them when they go to your website? Has anything that's gone wrong actually stopped them from going through with a transaction? What was it? Did you know about it? What did you do to make things better?
- Learn from both your loyal customers and those who have left. Why are certain customers loyal to your company? Why do some people not use your services or products? Remember: You need their unfiltered opinions — not their paid praise.
- Understand how previous change has impacted your CX. If you've gone about the process correctly, you have data showing what worked and what didn't from other periods of change.
The tide of change is inevitable. Is your process rock solid?
Change is inevitable, and we've seen that firsthand in the last year. Fortunately, there are things you can do to prepare for changes. No, you can't prepare for exactly what crisis will come next, and what change will be necessary to deal with it - but you can lay a firm yet flexible foundation for dealing with whatever the future holds.
Here are some things to keep in mind as you go about honing your customer’s transition process:
- Ensure your customers have a strong loyalty to your company. In an "Amazon economy," many companies only seek to sell the best items at the cheapest prices. This can't be your model as it simply cannot stand the test of time. Someone will always undercut you, but that won't matter if you have customer loyalty.
- Make a commitment of time, money, and energy toward better CX. All of these elements are required if you want to improve the experiences of your customers.
- Put yourselves your customer’s shoes. The great thing about dealing with customers is that you are the same in many regards. You're both humans. You both use the Internet. You both likely work for companies and with companies, and you both buy from companies. Try to imagine what their experience is like, and look for possible pain points you might have.
- Form dedicated CX team. Dedicate these team members to planning for and managing the transition you are about to undertake. This should be their only job. The team members should be creative, intuitive, and innovative.
- Communicate early and often. When change occurs, reach out genuinely and with compassion to your customers. Don’t use typical marketing ploys.
Partner With Avtex to Optimize Your Company’s CX
Every time your customers have an experience with your company, they should feel closer and more loyal to your brand. While change can be difficult for companies in any industry, look at the current changes you are facing as opportunities, not as threats. Just as adversity can bring people closer together, the shifts and transitions your brand makes to manage change can help your customers feel even more confident in their choice to work with you.
At Avtex, we’re proud to help our clients manage the risk associated with change by strengthening their customer experience and increasing the loyalty of their customers. Are you ready to learn more about what Avtex can do for your business? Contact us today to get started on your CX journey.