How To Deliver Fantastic Customer Service During a Pandemic
COVID-19 has chewed up, and for the unfortunate ones, swallowed many small businesses. Whilst big corporations have cash reserves and have been able to survive for months doing a reduced amount of business, the average small business owner doesn't have this privilege. They have employees who are reliant on the business to pay the bills to keep a roof over their heads.
But the number one rule of business is...
Don't run out of cash!
It's therefore not only tempting, but sometimes necessary to cut down to a skeleton workforce and reduce costs, so the company doesn't sink.
But reducing staff numbers usually also means that the Customer Service level you provide will also suffer. This obviously risks alienating current customers and at the moment retaining current customers is as important as ever - if not more so.
Here are 6 ways companies can deliver great customer service whilst in a pandemic.
Start With Your Team
Having the team in the office allows for an easy pick me up, with a 10-minute motivational speech. But what about those who are working from home, how can you rally and motivate your troops?
Motivated troops give out better results than ones who are shuffling around, looking at their feet waiting for the day to end, or sat day-dreaming about being anywhere else.
I've come to realise that some office distractions get a bad reputation. Having a little break to talk about your plans for the weekend or poking fun at a colleague's latest disaster of a haircut may be seen as wasted time from a manager's point of view. But these interactions make work humane and allows it to be an enjoyable atmosphere (unless it's your haircut being poked fun at). You even start missing your managers awkward sense of humour when working from home, even if it does come at your expense.
The importance to connect with your team will create a sense of happiness and belongingness that will rub off onto your customers. Step forward tech.
Tools such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Skype (remember that?) come in very handy when teams are working remotely.
Meetings should be slightly more frequent than in if they were happening the office, to help prevent cabin fever caused from being cut off from the rest of your crew.
No-one will work as well when they think they're isolated from the rest of the team, and this will reflect in the customer service they deliver.
Honesty Is The Best Policy
Setting yourself up with false promises would be an error for any company.
We're in unusual times, and even though we're slowly starting to get back to things with our 'new normal', there are still some factors that cannot be controlled.
The worst thing you can do is pretend you've not been effected, and get your employees to make promises to customers you know can't be kept.
If there's going to be a delay, let your customers know, rather than trying to sound better than your competition. Customers are usually more accepting of a delay when they have been told to expect it, rather than when they've not been given any indication of a problem and their order is a week late.
As the heading says, honesty is the best policy, and goes a long way to helping deliver an excellent customer service!
It's Time To Be More Flexible
Being strict with your staff when they are working at home is not the way forward during these turbulent times. Stress levels are sky-high, so every bit of extra help will be appreciated, especially as they continue to work from home.
Allowing staff the opportunity to work the hours they want (within reason, of course), can be a real mood booster. Some people work better in the early hours, others later on, so letting staff work the hours which will produce higher quality work for you is a win-win.
I know some people that are real grumps in the mornings, and I couldn't image them ever giving a customer a positive experience until they've had their third cup of coffee!
As long as they're able to produce results, does it really matter if they start an hour later or earlier than everyone else?
Adjust Your Plan As Needed
Who would have expected this time last year that we'd go from suits in the office, to pyjamas in the dining room?
Companies that have successfully adjusted to working from home have managed to ensure their customers are still being provided with a great service. Those who haven't will have undoubtedly seen customer satisfaction scores drop.
So, any plan for the future needs to be able to bend, adjust, and twist or any word you want to use, it needs to be flexible.
Customers are in the dark on how you're operating, and to be honest, they don't really care. They just want their goods and services, and they want them now.
Whatever plans you have, you need to ensure that the customers and employees will benefit from them. Cutting costs may help out in the short term, but eventually, your employees and customers are likely to suffer.
Get a fall back plan. If you have more than one action plan, you won't find yourself making hasty decisions that within a week, suddenly don't seem too good.
Special Focus On Your Current Customers
New customers are always welcomed, but loyal ones guarantee repeat purchases. In current circumstances where time and money are at a restraint, you may find customers looking for faster and cheaper alternatives, unless you give them a reason not to.
A quick thank-you email, a special offer, or even a 10% discount can go a long way in showing a customer you appreciate them. Not only does this help strength the customer experience and relationship, they're often great ways of making a little extra money!
Here are some great ideas on how to decide how you will say thank-you to your customers:
- Think about what would keep you loyal to a company, and continue to spend your money with.
- What have other companies done? A quick check of your inbox will help with this.
- Are your competitors giving their customers anything back? If not, this could be a perfect opportunity to show them why you're better.
Don't Be Afraid To Show Off
Don't be shy. During this stressful time, customers want to receive some positive news for once. So, why not share all the good things your company is doing to help improve the situation. (It might even boost their confidence in you as a company.)
Announce your plans on social media, and use numerical data to help show you have substance behind those claims. Social media should never be feared. Even the pandemic has not struck it down - in fact, it has brought people closer together.
Don't Be Distant In Socially Distanced Times
Companies are going out of their way to assist people during the most uncertain of times, so it's important to have a glass half full mentality. View the pandemic as an opportunity to deliver creative customer service, exploring new avenues of what you have to offer.
Customers should never be distant from your company. Just 1 or 2 metres maybe...
These were just some ways companies can continue to deliver a fantastic customer service during such unusual times. With Coronavirus looking like it's here for the long-run, it's more important than ever to ensure your customer experience gives your business a defining "stand-out" factor.
What do you think companies should do to deliver great customer service during the pandemic? Don't be a stranger - Drop a comment below!
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