July 29, 2020
Be ready for the future of customer engagement and experience.
Restrictions have been eased in Singapore since June after 2 months of circuit breaker or the partial lockdown imposed by the government. In a bid to slow the economic nosedive, the country is slowing getting back on its feet, allowing many pockets of businesses to resume operations like retail shopping and dining. Aside from the actual operations, many businesses are also concerned about the future of customer experience and how the hit from the crisis will alter it.
Customer experience is what sets brands apart from their competition. What you serve customers is not only your products and services, but also the manner through which these are delivered to them. How good you take care of customer needs in every stage of the marketing funnel is important in maintaining a good and fruitful relationship with them.
With everything that’s happening in the world right now, we also need to rethink customer service, customer engagement, and its impact on overall customer experience. Customer Experience Futurist Blake Morgan says it best in her article for Forbes:
Now the challenge is not just to stand-out, but to pivot, innovate and transform. (…) 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.
It makes no mention of totally abandoning customer engagement, but instead calls business owners to turn their attention towards engaging loyal customers. It is a known, well-studied fact that loyal customers are significantly advantageous for brands, but they need to be fully engaged in order to maximise their potential.
Support available anytime and anywhere is important and in fact, the “most valued aspect of service interaction”. Freshworks further explains that moving forward, it’ll be less about what communication channel to tap, but what would best answers customer’s questions. The customer service experience of every brand is usually divided per channel, so it’ll be best to take note of where the majority of queries are coming in and focus there. In short, be where your customers are.
Live chats, fast messaging, as well as mobile convenience will take up a huge bulk of preferred engagement channels by customers. This is old news and many brands are already getting ready for this before the pandemic rolled in. However, COVID-19 has sped up the inevitable and further facilitated the growth of fast messaging.
The biggest buzzword here is “automation”. Contactless service-delivery made customers more engaged with self-service channels and cloud-based solutions. WNS believes that “companies with a strong digital footprint will stand differentiated in the market with their digital readiness”. So, if you haven’t already, it’s time to see whether you’re capable of adding automation into your own strategies, as it amplifies customer service gaming, especially now.
The Coronavirus ultimately changed the future of AR/VR but for the better. It has long been predicted that augmented and virtual realities will yield benefits for many industries. This is proven true during the lockdown, where majority of customers and users are quarantined in their homes. AR/VR connects customers to customer service more effectively. These are extremely useful for retail troubleshooting, product walkthroughs and trainings.
If there’s anything to take away from these projections, it’s that brands have to make sure they are present for their customers. Be certain that your strategies would not leave customers wondering about the changes to your business. Don’t let them guess answers to basic questions they may have about your operational hours, inventory, events and others. In short, do not give them a reason to seek your competition.
As the economic landscape continuously changes, it’s imperative that you yield instead of resisting. Here are some ways you could re-engage customers during and after the COVID-19 recovery period:
Depending on where you are in the world, you may already be thinking about resuming store operations for your brand (if you haven’t already). For those who haven’t yet done so, there are some considerations you have to think. Of course, health concerns would alter traditional operations and pose additional requirements. Before anything else, you can also plan operation resumption announcements through your official digital channels, like the following:
Email blast: Email marketing is essential for communicating business plans and changes, especially in times of crisis. Not only does it help build customer loyalty, but emails also have high click-through rate. Brands can use emails to update their customers thoroughly and blast crisis-related updates of their business, like store hour changes, logistical adjustments, in-store policies, etc. Check out how you can use email marketing for your crisis communication strategy.
Social media page: Now’s also a good time to exhaust the permeability of social media. One of the first things your customers would look at is your social media page. While you can be more in-depth on your email update, make sure to not leave out your social media presence and get the word out there.
Website: Depending on your website structure, there are a lot of webpages you can leverage for your announcement. You can choose to create specific landing pages, lay out information through blog posts, or utilise pop-ups to ensure that your announcement will not go unnoticed.
A Google My Business profile allows businesses to properly appear on local search results. If you’ve altered your GMB listing to accommodate COVID-19 restrictions, then it’s important that you also reflect changes to it. Once customers are ready to use your services again or purchase your products, they’d want to know the best time to catch you. So, you need to update your store hours on the web. Read more about how best to optimise your Google My Business listing here.
The rise of digital-only events has been expected. Now, however, more and more brands are starting to test the waters with intimate, small physical events. Of course, proper precautions are needed, and local guidelines must be properly followed. Sanitary measures must be in place. So, aside from limiting the number of guests or attendees, it’s imperative that disinfecting stations are present during the event. Make sure to also require your attendees to use protective gear and maintain physical distancing during the event.
For Accenture, the rules of engagement have shifted. A new era of customer engagement and overall experience also entails purposeful interactions that overcome the effects of this crisis. While it may seem uncomfortable at first, the digital-only transactions would also accelerate digital engagement and offer unprecedented opportunities for further growth.
The existence of COVID-19 is not a reason to not continue engagement. If anything, it’s crucial that you keep lines open, especially now. Businesses will suffer if they abandon their customers at these turbulent times. Remember, loyal customers are the answer to bringing a brand back to its feet.
While the future is uncertain in terms of how long the pandemic will last, the transition to a new normal is inevitable. Especially economically. We’re already in a period of recovery. The objective here is to bring the most valuable and loyal customers back to your door. You can do this by thinking less about omnipresence but focusing efforts on more lucrative channels. You can also embrace a new standard of messaging. Additionally, think about ramping up your digital-only customer experience. Finally, utilise the potentials of AR/VR.
For more information about the latest updates on Coronavirus, visit World Health Organization’s (WHO) website.
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