CX COVID HELPBOOK: EMERGENCY RESPONSE GUIDE FOR A CX PROFESSIONAL
This list of recommendations is neither complete or final. It has been put together after the first online meeting of international CX experts and Russian CX community online meeting on THU 26th of April and includes the best practices and experience of the leading companies and experts in handling the COVID-19 situation. We hope this guide will help you to adapt and react faster to the current situation as well as maintain the loyalty of customers in these turbulent times.
PRINCIPLES OF COMMUNICATION WITH CUSTOMERS
- STAY CONNECTED. Customers are experiencing huge pressure due to the current situation. They don’t know what to expect and feel a great deal of UNCERTAINTY. Currently their key need is to move from uncertainty to CLARITY in regards to what is going on and what will happen in the future – whether the company keeps working, whether it delivers on commitments or not. It is extremely important now that the company shares this message with the clients using all available communications media, explaining that the business is still operational, the company continues to work and serve the clients.
- CALM AND POSITIVE COMMUNICATION TONE. Panic is our main enemy now. It is just enough to stay home and adapt to new reality. Your customers need to hear that YOU are in control, you know what to do and how to manage your business, that you have sound strategy in current situation.
- СONSISTENCY OF MESSAGES IN VARIOUS CHANNELS. The tone and content of the communications in various channels should not be contradictory – consolidate all communications together with your PR department, unify what information you transmit to the clients via contact center, via messengers and social media.
- Don’t wait until customers start calling with questions. Be proactive and talk to customers yourself, explain what is going on at your side: how you will organize your business activity, which services will be available and which are not, how customers can reach you. Openly communicate the risks, explain it could happen that for a certain period of time the offices/retail shops will be closed. Proactively prepare customers to possible transition to online interaction (help them install the mobile application/explain how online communication works/ explain how to reach you electronically/ test the equipment together with customers in advance).
- MOVE TO DIGITAL ENVIRONMENT. Whenever possible, proactively transfer your products, services and communications to digital environment. Explain to the customers which services are available in your mobile application, what can they do remotely. Find the segments of the customers who used to come to the office for services that can be rendered electronically and educate them to use mobile application/digital services. Do your best to transfer all communication from voice to digital (messengers) to leave the voice channel to those who can’t use the digital channels (elderly people, visually challenged).
- For the businesses that sell the products/render services that can’t be transferred online – PROACTIVE COMMUNICATION OF ACTIVITIES you are undertaking to ensure safety of your customers. Info signs in retail shops and offices, sanitizers, employees wearing masks and gloves, health checks for employees, information about frequency and thoroughness of cleaning and disinfection. Translate the position of responsibility and commitment to customer health and safety.
- TRANSPARENCY AND HONESTY. Openly share information about difficulties and pressure the business is experiencing now (heavy load on IT systems or contact center, disruptions in communications) and the measures you are undertaking to cope with these challenges.
- EMPATHIC AND HUMANISED COMMUNICATIONS that show sincere care of warm hearts of the people that work in your company, their feel for customers and the difficulties they are going through right now.
PRINCIPLES OF ORGANISING THE BUSINESS PROCESSES
- CONCENTRATE ON WHAT IS VITALLY IMPORTANT FOR THE CUSTOMERS. Focus on key products and services and ensure these core services work sustainably. Satisfy basic customer needs in the first place. Build a clear list of priorities what needs to be done and provide it to customers first of all. Work in accordance with this list of priorities. Review the Service Levels in the areas where they are not critically important for the customer and redistribute the resources correspondingly.
- FOCUS ON SIMPLICITY. Simplify complicated multi-stage procedures, interfaces and systems.
- TRANSFER AS MUCH OF YOUR BUSINESS PROCESSES ONLINE AS POSSIBLE. Keep personal contacts between employees and with customers only in cases when they can’t be shifted online: for example, organize your support team to drive to fix the broken equipment from home, not from office, transfer your back office team and contact center to distance work.
- TRANSFER YOUR SERVICES AND EMPLOYEES to remote work gradually. Run the test how the service/team works remotely – do the focus group, correct procedures and only after that transfer more employees to home work to avoid chaos. Inform employees in advance about the transfer plan and procedure.
- SHIFT THE FOCUS FROM “EARN MORE MONEY” TO “HELP AND SUPPORT EACH OTHER”. It’s not the right time to earn money, it’s time to survive and support those who need help, share the opportunities, resources and expertise with those who need it. It is important that all employees in the company understand the fact that the company will inevitably be in losses – it is important to “fall slower” and keep the business running, support the customers and keep their loyalty.
PRINCIPLES OF WORK WITH THE TEAM
- Your main task is to decrease the uncertainty and to raise the level of clarity for the team – use daily online meetings, chats, ask top managers to communicate directly. The employees are scared to get fired and to stay with no means of support. It is critically important for them that the company explains its position in regards to workplaces and workload of the employees.
- SUPPORT YOUR MANAGEMENT TEAM. The top managers of the company could also be in a state of confusion, they may feel unprepared to the rapidly changing situation and direct contacts with customers. It is important to help them prepare – create the templates/keynotes/letters to the clients. Draw the attention of top management to the importance of communication with the team and with customers. Collect the best practices/examples of communication with customers from your market and other industries and share them with the management team.
- CREATE THE EFFICIENCY CONTROL SYSTEM that will help you manage the remote team: define the KPI and help employees reach these KPIs.
- HELP YOUR TEAM TO ACCEPT that it might happen that the nature of their job could CHANGE: it is well possible that they will have to do something else. It is important to provide education to acquire new skills and think through the new tasks and responsibilities for the people that used to work face-to-face with customers. Probably, this is the opportunity to do the projects that you have been postponing in the past.
- CREATE THE SIMPLE HOW-TO GUIDES FOR EMPLOYEES: how to organize your working day and space, what to wear when you work, how to stay concentrated and keep working efficiency at home.
- SUPPORT HEALTH AND MORALE OF YOUR TEAM. Use the time to educate your team and acquire new skills (for example, efficient online communications), educate them how to keep healthy while working from home, test new technologies together. Use educational webinars, teach your team to treat the situation responsibly.
PRINCIPLES OF SELFORGANISATION
- ADHERE TO WORKDAY SCHEDULE. Whenever possible, keep the usual working hours, environment and rituals. Follow the work and rest schedule.
- CONTROL THE VOLUME OF NEGATIVE INFORMATION. Set aside a specific time during the working day (once or several times a day) to check the news. Make an effort to concentrate at work during the rest of the working day, don’t check the newsfeed or social media for updates.
- BE A LIVE EXAMPLE FOR YOUR TEAM of a responsible and caring leader that understands well the seriousness of the situation and focuses on business continuity and customer loyalty.