How to excel at customer service during a crisis

Providing excellent customer service is the goal of every business, but when a crisis hits, your focus may quickly switch to survival mode. However, ramping up your customer service efforts now could be the very engine that propels you through the lean times to emerge stronger on the other side.

Like many businesses across the country, Safelite was negatively impacted when the COVID-19 pandemic reached the United States. Government-mandated shutdowns and business closures resulted in fewer people driving, which negatively impacted our bottom line. We had to take strong measures quickly to steady our business.

Anticipate the need and fill It

First, we had to make sure we could keep our essential customers, such as first responders, medical staff, delivery drivers and grocery store clerks, safely on the road. Continuing to serve customers across the country whose jobs were now more important than ever became a top priority, as did the health and safety of all of our associates.

That meant reinventing how we greeted customers (with a thumbs-up over a handshake), sanitized their vehicles and delivered on our mobile service, and offering a new contactless Drop and Go option.

During a crisis, customers still want and need your products and services, but they don’t want to incur unnecessary risk to obtain or use them. People want to do business with companies they feel care about them and their communities, so it’s not just the right thing to do — it’s good business.

Support your people

When a crisis hits, the most important priority is your associates. Crises don’t just affect your customers — they affect your people, too. If your associates are worried about their health, safety, homes or livelihood, they won’t be able to provide that winning customer service.

Even if your bottom line is in danger, you must support your associates and lead with transparency. That will give them confidence in your leadership and allow them to better focus on taking care of your customers.

Be flexible and responsive

When your customers need you, it’s imperative that you are there for them no matter what. This may require thinking outside the box and finding new ways to share your product or perform your services, especially during a crisis. Consider rethinking how your business handles delivery, payment options and pickup and drop-off methods to adapt to the current climate.

Also look at what’s been affected and what has changed. How can you adjust to ensure your business is positioned to help those in need and survive in the long term? Can you quickly switch gears to provide a necessity? How are you supporting the very communities you’re serving?

If the crisis is a localized natural disaster, consider seeing whether your business or associates can provide supplies to those in need. During COVID, Safelite was proud to donate medical gloves and N95 face masks from our reserves to several local hospitals in Columbus.

A crisis situation does not have to knock the wind out of your business. Remember that those you can serve quickly, safely and with kindness during a time of need and uncertainty will be your loyal customers for life.

Steve Miggo, Executive Vice President, Safelite AutoGlass