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COVID-19 Resource | by Becki Hemming
Adapt to COVID-19 is a series of publications documenting our research, advice and ideas to accelerate collaboration and sharing amidst this global turning point. We believe that by learning together in these tough situations, we can deliver the customer experience necessary to tactically get through this period of uncertainty, whilst retaining your vision for the future.
We don’t need to ask you to picture it, you’re probably living it in one way or another. And if you are, we’re here to help. There are no doubts left that COVID-19 is throwing uncertainty and difficulties across many industries. The message is clear; adapt to digital realities or lose customers. Digital experiences have never mattered more and we’re poised to guide you through this unprecedented period. It seems what many could use right now is some practical advice on managing customer expectations and queries at scale. So let’s crack on:
Customers come to your digital communication channels with certain expectations in mind. In the current situation and sheer volume of incoming queries, it’s reasonable to assume you may not meet these expectations and the resulting experiences are going to be disappointing to your customers. Whilst you absolutely should prioritise these customer experiences in light of COVID-19, it may not be possible for you to meet the desired customer experience in the immediate term. But you can shift the dial to reset their expectation by communicating the more likely experience that they will have. And this should mean more than “we’re experiencing a high volume of queries right now” on your website or automatic email response.
We’re not telling you to predict the future here, but rather to arm you and your team with the best possible information to stem ever increasing queries. By sharing the knowledge you have amongst the customer services team, monitoring social media and monitoring the news, there are some ways you can ebb this flow.
The words we choose at times like this can be crucial. None of your customers wants to be met with a rigid response or an unfeeling tone. We seek human connection and understanding right now and customer service experiences should be no different. Look to clarify not confuse with your language choice and always lead with empathy.
Do you actually need to say anything at all? What are you telling your customers that they need to know? It's important to realise that by communicating to your customers about COVID-19, you're also amplifying the worry that surrounds it. So only get in touch if you have something to say that will inform people of something worth knowing. For example, a change in service and how this can mitigate some unease your customers may be feeling is handy to know. Alternatively, your customers don't need to see a regurgitation of the news through the lens of your brand values.
It’s a legal admission of guilt if you say sorry for something. This means it’s important to understand a situation completely before you apologise for it. It doesn’t mean you have to leave out sympathy for the customers you’re trying to serve. For example, you can say that you’re sorry to hear of someone’s situation and ask more about it. Much of the COVID-19 mania is of course not the fault of organisations and businesses.
Your customer service team can only do so much. There comes a point where it's far more efficient to turn to digital products to alleviate and aid the customer service effort. This is our area of expertise and we are poised to help.
Here ends our checklist of immediate things to keep in mind for digital communications in the COVID-19 crisis. We can guide both you and your customers through these digital experiences if you want to support. Whether it’s a chatbot to surface answers your customers are asking or a Writing for Digital training session for your customer services team, we're ready if you are.
Stay safe, stay sane and get in touch if you think we could help you.