It used to be that customer experience was the only way to differentiate your brand a mong a sea of sameness. Now the challenge is not just to stand-out, but to pivot, innovate and transform. These three buzzwords are much more easily said than done.
This is not the time to quiver in fear and count our losses, but be a leader in helping customers get back on their feet. We are now serving a customer that’s been financially impacted by COVID-19, who wants to be a touchless and digital customer, and who will be living differently for some time.
In times of crisis, a customer’s interaction with a company can trigger an immediate and lingering effect on his or her sense of trust and loyalty. Now is also the time for customer experience (CX) leaders to position themselves at the forefront of the longer-term shifts in consumer behavior that result from this crisis. Keeping a real-time pulse on changing customer preferences and rapidly innovating to redesign journeys that matter to a very different context will be key.
Leaders can then develop interventions and redesign critical customer and employee journeys, enabling their organizations to reopen or sustain operations while also building trust with both customers and employees, such as redesigning the way hotel guests check in by developing a completely digital experience without a check-in counter.
Now more than ever, people need extra information, guidance, and support to navigate a novel set of challenges, from keeping their families safe to helping their kids learn when schools are shut down. They want a resource they can trust, that can make them feel safe when everything seems uncertain, and that offers support when so much seems to be overwhelming. A baseline starting point: staying true to company values and purpose.
Moving to the next normal and restarting operations will require adaptations to ensure that both employees and customers feel safe and reassured. Careful mapping of customer and employee journeys can help diagnose risks across all of the in-person interactions. Within the three in-person interactions, three types of transfers typically pose a risk: goods transfer, service provision, and internal tasks and processes.
For a customer, handing over a credit card and receiving it back poses only a single risk; for the employee, who may handle dozens of credit cards over the course of a busy evening, the level of risk can look quite different. Once those risks have been diagnosed, managers can prioritize them according to business and regulatory context, as well as by effect on customer and employee experiences. That process will allow organizations to effectively allocate resources to the highest-priority risks and journeys, rating them according to intensity of exposure, duration of exposure, and frequency of contact.
An operating model in which employees can ask questions and help improve on redesigned journeys can strengthen engagement, an especially critical task when they are also making many changes to the way they work. Transparent, frequent communication of efforts and adjustments with customers, vendors, and employees alike helps reinforce the message that employees are valued.
In conclusion, companies that can move toward human-centered service operations that reduce risks and improve safety will have the opportunity to emerge stronger and with justified loyalty as we reimagine the world around us in the next normal.