The world is staring down the barrel of its worst financial crisis since the Second World War, with The World Bank predicting a global economy shrink by 5.2% in 2020. The impact of Covid-19 is worse than the 2008 financial crash and has sent economies across the globe into recession. Not the cheeriest way to start a blog post is it?
Nine months into the pandemic, businesses are starting to have a better understanding of where their operation stands and how to keep things running by mitigating against the dangers posed by a recession. Less travel, stalling investments and a freeze on new hires are concepts bound to have come into their thinking.
The one thing you can guarantee in a recession is the inevitable drop in consumers living up to their name, i.e. consuming. However, fewer customers does not mean CX should be neglected or face a budget cut. In fact, studies show that a robust customer experience strategy is one of the most successful ways to survive an economic downturn. During the 2008 financial crisis, leaders who invested in CX saw positive returns. By investing seriously in your client journey, you can have happier, more loyal customers.
In 2020, innovating your digital customer experience can not only help you survive into 2021, but also achieve continuous improvement and come out of the other side (whenever that is!) with much better relationships with your customers.
Innovate To Meet Customer Behaviour
Working with our clients over the past nine months has shown common patterns emerge in customer behavior; there’s been an understandable spike in the volume of contact that customer centers have been dealing with. The question then becomes - how do you streamline an operation to cope with such huge growth?
The answer here is data. It’s all about the numbers. The inbound traffic to one of our airline partners' call centers rose by 2600% in just 10 days. We saw a similar trend in retail. By analyzing the customer journey experience, you start to find the same issues and queries coming up again and again. For airlines in a pandemic it was, and continues to be, cancellations, refunds and rebooking inquiries. In the retail industry, everyone is indoors and shopping online, so the surge is almost always related to tracking and shipping questions.
The situations will naturally differ for every industry, but within each, you can see patterns through intent and adjust according to the audience or high volume customer inquiries. Messaging channels are designed to handle spikes in inbound traffic where live chat, websites, and telephone systems often fail. If you combine that with intelligent bots that can be automated to handle the most common queries, it greatly frees up your agents' time to provide a better, more personalized customer experience.
5 Ways to Invest in Your CX During a Recession
1. Understand your customers’ state of mind
As companies, we have buyer personas that guide how we frame our CX strategies.Harvard Business Review’s research shows that in times of financial uncertainty, using psychological elements- as opposed to consumer demographics or lifestyles- is a better approach.
As a brand, if you can analyze whether you have ‘slam on the brakes’ or ‘live for today’ customers, or maybe even a mix of both, then it’s easier to understand their behaviors and needs and adjust your game plan accordingly.
2. Give them a voice
If you’re interested in building brand loyalty, making people feel like they have a stake in the business is a great strategy. Lego customers for example can submit their own designs on the Lego Ideas site, while challenger bank Monzo asks for input and feedback on its product via their community forum.
Feeling truly heard- even if it’s just from email feedback- and seeing their ideas brought to life, can truly enhance a customer’s relationship with their favorite brands, even during a recession.
3. Stay honest and transparent
Something we’ve seen a rise in during Covid, is company ability to admit they’re human. Mistakes are inevitable as people adapt to an unfamiliar situation. Because everyone has been in the same boat, people are more willing to forgive. Wouldn’t it be great if this sense of continued?
Jeannie Walters, CEO of Experience Investigators, says it’s leading to more authentic relationships. “Organizations are made up of individual people doing their best. Customers are asking for help instead of demanding unreasonable perks. Both sides are giving each other the benefit of the doubt.”
4. Consider your tone
You may feel you nailed your brand’s voice when it comes to helping costumers feel valued and appreciated. But these aren’t regular times. People are stressed and worried on several fronts and the last thing you want to do is lose a customer by providing a bad experience.
CSAT and NPS numbers, while reassessing how agents and bots are communicating, will be good indicators of any changes you need to make when considering how your customers are feeling, especially if you’re in an industry like finance, where customers could be feeling more vulnerable than usual.
5. Streamline your customer service
Moving to messaging is a drum that we beat relentlessly at Conversocial, but it really can improve the experience of your customers and agents.
Speaking to people on messaging channels can allow you to build a more personalized customer experience. Using AI and bots to handle your most straight forward and common requests will free up your agents to spend more time on the difficult issues- the ones where providing a positive customer experience is key to future brand loyalty.