The COVID-19 pandemic has cast a gloomy spell on the world, leaving no industry or individual unaffected. With global economic activities at a historic low, businesses are struggling with a shrinking customer base and declining revenue.
The one thing that can help you get through these turbulent times successfully is providing exceptional customer experiences. Unlike the pre-pandemic era, the challenge now is not simply to stand out but to innovate, transform, and lead by example.
Conquering this new challenge is easier said than done.
The situation requires you to recalibrate your customer experience efforts and move at an unprecedented pace. Sounds like ‘Mission Impossible’?
Worry not. We are here to help you out.
This blog will guide you through how to improve customer experience during COVID-19 and take it to the next level. But, before that, let's look at the change brought by the novel Coronavirus and what it entails.
The Monumental Change
According to the latest updates, 297 million people in the U.S. alone are under lockdown. That means a substantial chunk of your customers now spends most of the time in their homes.
Look at it from the standpoint of customers, and you will realize that the situation has brought a significant shift in their expectations.
Due to the current situation, various questions keep haunting customers:
- Is the product safe?
- Will there be delays?
- Is the business taking appropriate steps to maintain cleanliness on the premises?
- Does the brand provide contactless delivery options?
On the other side of the aisle.
As a business, there might be several questions occupying you:
- How to deepen your bonds with customers despite the new pandemic-related limitations?
- What steps should you take to meet the changing customer expectations?
- How to build customer loyalty at a time when customers are losing their confidence in brands due to the pandemic?
- How to empathize with customers and show them that you care despite the ongoing crisis?
One thing ties all these questions together - an emphasis on improving the customer experience.
Tips to Improve Customer Experience During COVID-19
1. Create Memorable Mobile Experiences
With the 'stay at home' phase seeming never-ending, smartphone usage has increased exponentially.
Research suggests that 70% of people globally are spending more time on smartphones. The figure goes above 80% for GenZ.
While people stay at home, it's the best time for you to bring the world to their hands. More than the web experience, what's going to save you here, is how optimized your mobile experience is.
To succeed in your endeavor to deliver exceptional mobile experiences, ensure that:
- Your CTAs are well-placed and visible clearly on mobile phones
- You have stick-to-scroll, especially for Confirm or Add to Cart CTAs. They make the purchase convenient for buyers
- Your website’s search bar displays prominently on mobile phones of all sizes
- There are no bulky or blurred images that don't show well on the mobile
- There is no irrelevant or out-of-context content, as it makes purchasing cumbersome
Seeing is believing: Etsy is a good example here. It’s a global online marketplace for vintage, hand-made, and unique gifts. Open its website on your mobile phones, and you will find that the interface is extremely user-friendly. It has a prominent search bar, CTAs and offers a seamless browsing experience, as you can see below.
In a nutshell, your mobile experience should score high on convenience and create memorable mobile moments for customers. If you are doing it already, that's great. If not, your competitors will gladly take the mobile visitors away from you.
2. Extend Free Trial Periods
You must have noticed that people are now more apprehensive of putting their money in something that might not fully satisfy them. They want to feel certain that whatever they are buying or subscribing to, is worth the investment.
Extending the free trial period will give customers enough time to understand your offerings and make a mindful purchase decision.
Fitbit leads the way. It has pushed its free trial to 90 days. The brand's objective here is to give prospects enough time to try its products and be fully convinced before purchasing the subscription. Besides, the firm is also providing 40 pieces of Fitbit Premium content completely free of cost in its app.
Take a cue from Fitbit, and start thinking of the extent to which you can change your subscription model and optimize the customer experience.
3. Embrace Remote Customer Support Tools
Adding powerful tools to your arsenal can be of tremendous help in improving customer experience during COVID-19.
Thanks to the ‘stay at home’ order, people now have more time than before, to use your products and raise tickets. This means your customer service team could get overly busy and stressed out, despite working from home.
The question is how to deliver best-in-class experiences to customers without over-burdening your support team.
Equipping your customer support staff with tools like a knowledge base, help desk, and live chat can help you in this endeavor. Besides making their work easier and more manageable, the tools will also keep them in the right frame of mind while dealing with customers.
Let's look at these tools in detail:
✅ Knowledge Base
Knowledge Base works like a self-service platform where critical business information can be stored securely in the cloud. It allows easy access to data from any device - mobile phones, tablets, and laptops.
The tool is an asset both for your customers and support staff. It makes information instantly available for your customers, so they don't have to approach your reps for trivial issues.
Likewise, your customer service representatives are relieved from answering the same questions again and again. This gives them considerable time to invest their energies towards serious customer concerns that require immediate attention.
The best part about a knowledge base is that it can be translated into multiple languages. So you can be unperturbed if your customer base and support team are spread across different geographic locations. They can access the knowledge base in their native language without any hassle.
This self-help platform is a must-have if increasing customer questions is a persistent problem, and you are looking for innovative ways to provide customer support during COVID-19.
Look at how you can create a knowledge base in 5 minutes -
Read more: 7 Best Practices to Keep Your Knowledge Base up and Running
✅ Help Desk
Managing a massive inflow of customer requests can be daunting for your support staff, especially in a remote working environment.
A tool like Help Desk comes handy here. This ticket management tool saves your support team from getting buried in the heap of tickets.
The tool collates customer requests from multiple channels - emails, calls, social media, or live chat, on a centralized dashboard that's accessible to all your agents. Tickets can then be assigned to different agents and teams, depending on their expertise.
Agents can also:
- Track who is working on which tickets
- Prioritize tickets as high, low, and normal
- Add internal notes to inform colleagues about how to resolve a particular issue, how important a ticket is, or any other information
- Label tickets to give clarity regarding which division they fall into
The best part about a help desk tool is that it integrates seamlessly with your knowledge base and live chat. This trinity of three powerful tools opens all doors for agents to resolve tickets promptly, even while working remotely.
Besides, you can even track an individual agent's or the entire team's performance through the help desk system.
The tool's robust reporting mechanism provides accurate answers to questions such as -
- Are we getting more tickets?
- How many tickets are we replying to?
- How is the customers' experience?
- What's the average rating of agents?
- How many responses are pending or have been resolved?
This helps you identify bottlenecks and take steps to address them on time.
Here's how you can set up your help desk in under 5 minutes.
✅ Live Chat
Did you know that 30% of customers believe that not being able to reach a real human is the most frustrating aspect of a poor customer service experience? Live Chat software can deal with this issue easily.
No calls or emails. This tool works via chat. It's that simple.
Embed a live chat on your web page, so customers can instantly ask you a question. Your agents on the other side of the screen can quickly respond via:
- canned responses in case of repeated queries
- By manually typing the answer, or
- By sharing a link to your knowledge base article
Regardless of the customers' location, the device they use, and the number of questions they have - customer support is a piece of cake with live chat.
Besides helping you with instant issue resolution, live chat also allows you to -
- Monitor website visitors and their activities in real-time
- Anticipate customer questions and track what they are searching on your website
- Initiate conversations with website visitors and track them
- Capture leads with pre-chat forms
- Get operator performance reports
It is an invaluable tool to have at a time when businesses are working remotely and looking for ways to provide support during COVID-19 to their customers.
Here's how you can add live chat software to your website in 5 minutes.
Read more: Delightful Tools: Our Secrets to Working Remotely During COVID-19
4. Use Social Media Carefully
Social media is one of the easiest ways for brands to reach out to customers quickly and proactively. Likewise, customers often prefer social platforms to get prompt answers to their questions. The current crisis has further given a boost to this trend.
That means a large number of customers are now using social platforms for interacting with brands. Since social media is an unforgiving space where one wrong action can damage the brand, it's essential to use it carefully and strategically.
Be mindful of what you say and how you answer customer questions on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. No matter the situation, try to maintain your calm and respond respectfully while communicating on social platforms. That’s the only way to work your way around social media in a crisis.
In case, the customer conversation goes out of control on social media, consider sorting it out in a different channel - an email or phone call. This way you will be able to take the conversation into your hands and resolve issues quickly.
Example: Nike has a dedicated customer support account named ‘Team Nike’ on Twitter that provides customer support seven days a week. When customers use the brand's Twitter handle in their posts, @teamnike tries to resolve issues in the shortest possible time.
However, due to the pandemic, its customer support team got over-burdened. Rather than ignoring customer requests, Nike politely conveyed the situation to its customers, as you can see in the image below.
Another apt example here is T-Mobile. The brand has a Twitter account named T-Mobile Help for customer support, where it actively engages with distressed customers and provides quick solutions to their issues.
In the example above, you can see T-Mobile proactively posting about the issue and the longer care wait time. Take note of the voice and tone of the brand while responding to a customer’s comment. It’s positive and reassuring.
Whether you work for a larger enterprise or own a small business, you can do this too. Ensure that you have a dedicated social media team that takes care of all customer requests. Guide your team on how to respond to customers in a polite and timely manner, and ensure that no customer issue goes unattended.
5. Capture Customer Feedback & Design Better Experiences
Customer churn during this time is natural. Panicking and making wrong decisions will only worsen the situation. Think about it calmly and identify the reasons behind the rising churn.
When customers unsubscribe your services or abandon the cart, try finding out what’s urging them to take such actions. One of the best ways to achieve this is by embedding surveys at critical points in your website - when customers are about to leave your cart or when they are about to cancel the subscription.
Make sure that the feedback capture process is seamless. Ask short questions with multiple-choice options and make the process utterly simple. Analyze the survey responses to design superior quality experiences for customers.
|Here is an example of a question you can ask customers while they are about to abandon the cart:
Question: I am not completing the purchase because:
Take deliberate efforts to identify the bottlenecks faced by customers while buying from your brand. Launch surveys across website pages, help centers, and mobile apps. You can even take the help of survey tools while doing so.
Do some research on the internet to find the best survey tools or check out ProProfs Survey Maker. It’s excellent for creating, designing, sharing, and analyzing surveys. Watch this video to know how it can be of help.
6. Adopt Safety Measures
Safety right now is the top concern of customers. They want to be certain that the brand they are buying from has all the safety measures in place, such as:
- Warehouse personnel are regularly screened
- Fulfillment centers are sanitized regularly
- Delivery persons have all their accessories - masks, face shields, and gloves, in place, every time they go out to deliver a product
- Contactless delivery is practiced sincerely
Many of you might think of it as an added cost, which it is. But imagine the unflinching trust customers will have in your brand, once they know that they can buy from you without giving a second thought about safety.
|Take Amazon’s example: Talk about consumer safety, and one instantly thinks of Amazon. By employing the required safety measures, Amazon has succeeded in solidifying its relationship with customers.
Post pandemic, Amazon started offering the option of front-porch delivery for scheduled orders, wherein the delivery person delivers the product at the front door of the house. Customers don’t even have to sign for it, which is the best part. The brand has also increased the frequency of cleaning at various fulfillment centers, and it ensures that workers’ temperatures are checked right before they enter the warehouse.
No matter which business you are into, taking basic safety precautions is the need of the hour. Ensure that you allocate a budget for warehouse cleaning, worker, and customer safety. Once you do that, you will have customer loyalty and trust in abundance.
7. Strike the Right Emotional Chords With Your Customers
This is a time to be a little less competitive and a bit more compassionate. You need to show that there is more to you as a brand - you care about your customers and are ready to go that extra mile to keep them delighted amidst such trying times.
Be a little easy with your policies, take part in CSR activities, adopt flexible payment and delivery methods. Take initiatives to bring a difference in the little way you can.
This can greatly improve your customer experience during COVID-19.
Post-crisis, when all of this is over, customers will remember you for your generosity, flexibility, and compassion, more than anything else.
|CitiBank serves as an excellent example here. The bank took a proactive approach to serve its customers right. The bank sends regular emails to its clients, informing them of its efforts to keep the bank premises clean. The email also provides information about the bank’s mobile apps to encourage the use of internet banking. Besides, the bank has started waiving non-Citi ATM usage fees, penalties for early CD withdrawal, and fees for delayed credit card payments.
At a time when people are struggling with volatile incomes, Citi Bank is serving as a trusted partner.
A few more nuggets of advice to improve customer experience amidst the pandemic:
- Be transparent in your communication with customers. Don’t make false promises. If you are out of stock or will not be able to deliver on time - convey it to customers proactively.
- Add customer reviews to your website. It’s a great way to communicate with buyers about your brand’s commitment to great customer service.
- Create stellar on-site content. Customers don’t always visit your site or app to buy. Often, they are there to browse, learn about your offerings, and check out the new offers.
- Provide multiple payment options to make purchases convenient for customers
Read more: Experience Is the Future: Know How You Can Deliver Great Customer Experiences?
Embrace Change & Move Forward
At the dawn of 2020, little did we anticipate how the year would turn out.
We are shocked at the pace at which the pandemic is affecting the globe. At a time like this, you should hold on to hope and continue working and serving people with the same zeal that you always have.
This is possible if you embrace change and alter your customer experience strategy. Make the maximum use of social media platforms and tailor your subscription plans to suit customers’ requirements. Be socially responsible, empathize with your customers, and keep them engaged. Ask for feedback from your customers and ensure that you act on it.
Don’t forget to add the right remote customer support tools to your arsenal. Some of the tools you can consider are - ProProfs Knowledge Base, Help Desk, and Live Chat. They can strengthen your efforts to deliver exceptional customer experiences amidst the Coronavirus crisis.
We understand that navigating this new normal can be a daunting challenge. Don’t worry. We are there if you need us. Reach out to us at our toll-free contact (855) 776-7763, and we will be happy to assist you.
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