Coming out stronger

Customer service can be particularly tricky to navigate in the midst of a crisis situation, yet a survey from July revealed that inbound customer requests and mentions have increased 161 percent across all industries since the pandemic started. Couple that with the fact that nearly half of customers say they would drop vendors who don’t quickly meet their expectations, and it’s clear customer service teams are facing an uphill battle.

During a crisis, operations are continually shifting, and customers are worried, scared and confused. When your team members are the ones providing clarity during a tumultuous time, doing so well will go a long way in building consumer trust during the pandemic. There are a few items to consider when it comes to making sure your customer service teams are leading with the customer’s journey in mind during COVID-19.

Keep response times short

Make sure your team is taking the time to find the correct information to answer customer inquiries, but if they are able to provide accurate information quickly and efficiently, that’s even better. If a customer cannot quickly find information about your services and pricing, you can lose a new business opportunity. In fact, 47 percent of customers will take their business to a competitor within a day of experiencing poor customer service.

With many employees now working from home, make sure that direct dial phone numbers are being forwarded to mobile phones and that voicemail in-boxes are properly set up. Our company uses an app from our phone service provider that allows our staff to recognize forwarded calls so they can answer the phone appropriately.

Overcommunicate changes

During COVID-19, many companies saw a big shift in communications with the transition to virtual workplaces and changes in what services businesses are permitted to offer, as well as safety precautions they must take to offer them safely.

When the pandemic began, surveys showed that the number of customer service calls ranked as “difficult” doubled. As operations continue to shift because of the pandemic, make sure that changes are being communicated clearly in real time to both staff and customers.

Be flexible with your customers

Many businesses are feeling the financial crunch of COVID-19. The pandemic has created unique hardships for each industry, but leading with empathy can go a long way across all industries.

Remaining flexible and empathetic in your customer interactions will show customers who need that level of compassion in the interim that you understand their needs, and it will create strong relationships that will last long beyond the pandemic. If consumers have a positive experience during a hardship, they’re likely to recommend your business to others for years to come. This is important, as 74 percent of customers identify word of mouth as a key influencer in their purchasing decisions.

A combination of being flexible with your service offerings and encouraging your customer service teams to lead interactions with empathy, while also being overly communicative and responsive, will help your company stand out from the competition. This approach will ultimately bring in new business and help your organization continue to meet its goals during an uncertain time.

Bob Lester is President and CEO of Dura-Seal