You don’t need crystal balls, just the agility and courage to react

We all know now the impact that Covid-19 had on our businesses, the economy and our behavior in general.  We’re all customers of businesses in every aspect of our lives and know how we like to be treated.  We also know how we expect businesses that we depend on, both personally and professionally, to behave.  Why then did some brands, organisations and people like us who work in customer experience, service and support manage to get it so badly wrong?  Why do people who profess to be ‘experts’ not see what needed to be done and react accordingly?

My belief, and experience, is that many companies previously only paid ‘lip service’ to customer service departments and had postponed digital transformation efforts behind excuses about complexity, cost or priorities.  In reality, those are the companies that will now, or should now, struggle to retain their customers and even to stay in business.  I have many anecdotes about businesses that did badly: a Swedish furniture retailer who basically just shut up and shop and refused any attempts to communicate, leaving me with 1/2 a chair for 3 months + (and still counting…), a  major airline that again hid behind Covid-19 and ‘the welfare of their colleagues’ to avoid contact and having to process refunds, even though they were sending me emails asking me to get in touch…. Thankfully, I also have some about companies that did well, Snap Fitness, who run my local gym, emailed me immediately the lock down was announced, saying, don’t worry we’ll freeze your membership and won’t take any payment and we’ve negotiated access to some online courses for you to keep you going.

At a time when people needed information, reassurance and certainty, closing down contact was just about the worst thing you could do.  Seizing the opportunity to innovate, embrace technology and automation and show your customers that you cared was the right thing to do, even if it wasn’t perfect first time.

So, what do we do now?  Learn from our mistakes and put steps in place to ensure we have the agility to support our customers in their times of need even when there isn’t a pandemic threatening life as we know it.

  1. Put technology in place to understand what your customers want or are worried about
  2. Meet your customers where they are – increasingly online – and open new channels
  3. Redesign the priority customer journeys to reflect the new requirements (80/20 always applies)
  4. Communicate proactively and relevantly
  5. Embrace alternative technologies and ways of working
  6. If your current systems don’t allow you to do this, replace them with ones that do, there are plenty of alternatives

One large outsourcer that I know successfully replaced their entire telephony infrastructure for one of their accounts in 48 hours with a system that was cloud based and agile and having taken that leap of faith will probably now never go back.

Whatever is going to happen next, you need to position yourself not just to be able to cope but to thrive in this uncertainty.  Customer leaders who have innovated during this crisis and anticipated how customers will change their habits & requirements will build stronger relationships that will endure well beyond the crisis’s passing. It’s not too late for you to take the same decisions.

QPC choose to work with Genesys and deploy and support their Genesys Cloud platform that handles all channels from voice to social media and is readily integrated with most commonly used systems.  If you want to talk to us to see how we can help you choose agility, please contact Ian Gough – ian.gough@qpc.com

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