The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken businesses across all industries. One of the key aspects of every business that suffered due to the pandemic is customer service. Since it is a crucial part of the business, being proactive and addressing the issues head-on is a must.
Fortunately, companies can use many different technologies and protocols to adjust their approach to the current situation. They can get up-to-date with the latest trends as well as get an insight into what consumers expect from brands right now.
With that in mind, take a look at the essential ways to empower your customer services in the COVID era.
1. Make Connection and Care the Main Focus
Your customers need guidance, support, and additional information to solve their pain points — now more than ever. They want a resource that they can rely on in this era of uncertainty: someone who can make them feel safe.
How can you provide them with the right support, guidance, and care? By caring for your employees first.
Engaging your employees is a crucial starting point that will lead you to better customer service. Leading with employees in mind in times of crisis will help you empower your team to deliver exceptional customer support.
When your employees are happy and feel safe in the workplace – they are more productive and efficient. Most importantly, they’ll be more caring towards customers, which is the number one factor for delivering positive experiences.
Giving them the right care through employee engagement strategies will reflect on your customers as well. It will help them build trust, meaningful connections, and strong relationships that will last long after we wave the pandemic goodbye.
2. Include Contactless Channels
If parts of your brand’s customer journey (or the entire journey) exist in a physical channel, you should consider implementing contactless solutions.
Those can include drive-through shopping experiences, front-door deliveries, curbside pickups, contactless payment, or anything else that turns physical operations into touch-free experiences. That’s how you will instill trust, as your customers will know that they’ll stay safe and healthy while doing business with you.
According to The Visa Back to Business Study, “the future is contactless.”
The global study found that 60% of consumers expect to use contactless payments whenever they can, with 67% expecting brick-and-mortar stores to accept them.
Furthermore, 44% of consumers worldwide say they wouldn’t shop at a store that doesn’t offer contactless payment methods.
Contactless channels can help your employees as well. Minimizing physical touchpoints in the workplace will keep them healthy and safe but will also increase their engagement, job satisfaction, and customer service efforts.
One of the numerous tools that companies use these days to reduce physical touch is the paystub generator. They use it to create paystubs online, send them to employees in seconds, and have a clear overview of everyone’s salary information, overtime pay, taxes paid, and more.
3. Digitalize as Much as Possible
Just as consumers expect more contactless operations when interacting with brands, they also want to engage, interact with, and purchase from brands anywhere and anytime. Digital experiences have never been more important than they are now.
Many people still don’t feel safe going from store to store for grocery shopping, paying their bills in person, or even enjoying contactless environments like drive-through stations. You need to provide them an option to purchase from you from the comfort and safety of their home.
That’s why many brick-and-mortar stores have switched to online platforms. Ecommerce platforms and other digital channels (e.g. a business website, social media, self-service portals, live chat, email, etc.) provide seamless omnichannel shopping experiences, armed with personalized product/service recommendations.
Use them as much as possible to engage customers digitally because that’s where most of them are.
4. Prepare for Increased Customer Inquiries
The COVID era has caused customer emails, phone calls, and other types of contact to go through the roof. As previously discussed, they need more support than ever, so you need to be there to provide it and make sure it works consistently. That means you should shorten long hold times and ticket resolutions.
It’s safe to say your customer inquiries have already increased, but did you prepare for that surge on time, or are you still struggling to deal with them efficiently and effectively?
It’s not enough to implement live chat and set up a call center for customer support if you won’t put effective strategies in place to handle high customer inquiry volumes.
You should set up a self-service help center, an IVR system, and an omnichannel ticketing system. Additionally, you should offer callback services, texting support, online scheduling, AI chatbots for simple yet personalized interactions, and anything else that will ensure seamless customer support.
5. Increase Customer Support Capabilities
Increased volume of customer inquiries and the growing need for empathy means that your employees will need to spend more time with each customer. That means that you should take your customer support capabilities to the next level.
Apart from utilizing the latest technologies and adding new communication channels, you should train your customer-facing employees. With proper training, you’ll ensure they’ll handle every call, email, text, and live chat conversation with utmost professionalism and care.
Don’t forget about post-call/post-chat surveys, as they’ll give you feedback for your customer service performance. Customer feedback will help you empower your teammates and meet the needs of every customer in the ever-changing environment.
The COVID-19 era has proven that companies can provide outstanding customer support even without direct, in-person communication.
That’s why you should adopt these trends, which are bound to stick around even after the pandemic t. Since consumers expect online communication with brands with fewer physical touchpoints – adopting all of these trends and practices is a no-brainer.
About the Author
Samantha Clark is a Warrington College of Business graduate and she works for the professional accounting firm – ThePayStubs. She handles all client relations with top-tier partners and found her passion in writing articles on various finance and business-related topics.