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Customer Experience during a Pandemic

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Global pandemics are a challenge for everyone. Customers look to institutions and businesses they already trust for answers. Meanwhile, companies must scramble to figure out the best way to maintain excellent Customer Experience (CX) during unprecedented times.

No matter what the economy does, you can take some proactive steps to ensure your customers remain loyal to your brand. Creating an excellent CX takes dedication and focus, especially during a global pandemic.

Determine a Spokesperson

When a crisis hits, it’s easy to send mixed messages. Choosing a single spokesperson ensures what you’re saying is consistent. During emergencies, the company may need to make fast decisions and distribute information to customers and employees.

Select someone with a reassuring presence. Make sure this person understands the emotions people deal with during difficult times. Come up with a few messages aimed at solving pain points for your customers.

The person you appoint is the face of your brand. Make sure they embrace the values you hold dear and understand the personality of your company. The best representative is often the founder of the company. However, if that person isn’t comfortable in front of a camera, it might be best to choose a Marketing or PR Specialist.

Send Clear Signals

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed during a pandemic. You must figure out ways for your business to survive, alongside worrying about employee health and keeping customers safe. Figure out what your primary message is and deliver it immediately. The longer it takes customers to hear from you, the less likely they’ll feel confident you have a handle on any issues.

Look for no-contact ways to stay in touch. Utilize email, social media, and even snail mail to send out sales campaigns or updates about your business. No matter how you distribute your message, make sure it is the same message each time. Emails should match print ads. Offer the same deals via social media as you do on your website. Present a consistent signal, so users don’t grow confused about your process during the pandemic.

Tap Into Emotions

Some companies just keep plugging along with business as usual. However, not even acknowledging there’s a pandemic can make consumers feel unsure about the measures you’re taking to protect them.

Your first step is understanding your target audience. If you mainly cater to members of the younger generations, they may be acting less fearful of the virus than those impacted more severely. Know who your customers are and what their fears are.

Once you understand the fears or anxieties driving their behavior, it’s much easier to show empathy. For in person services, at risk clients might benefit from a separate shopping time period when they won’t have to interact with the general public. All types of shoppers will appreciate courtesy features like pickup and delivery.

Survey Your Customers

The best way to figure out what your customers want is by surveying them. Ask them what new procedures they’re happy with and what doesn’t work for them.

Go through any complaints or feedback offered in support chat, via email, or phoned in. These are clues about areas needing improvement. Once you identify key issues, make the needed adjustments to ensure a positive shopping experience in the future.

Know the path people take when they land on your website. Create a customer journey map and look at each touchpoint in the process. Can you make any improvements that might cause hesitation from the buyer? Do they feel safe from the virus through each element?

Refocus Your Support

A well-trained online support staff can create such a fantastic customer experience that people become loyal to the brand. One of the reasons for Intercom’s success is how it encourages consistent and positive immediate chat support. When you talk to chat support staff, or the chat bots, they almost always say, “My pleasure.” or “Thank you.”

Many in-person shops have reduced their hours during the pandemic. Use this extra time to conduct training sessions for your employees. Explain how customers are feeling and how they can make it a little better. Give them time to discuss their own concerns. Those who work with the public may have fears of their own. Look for ways to make their jobs better so that their happiness spreads to your customers.

Train your customer support staff to focus on the CX of every interaction. If someone calls in, do they hang up afterward feeling heard? If a potential client begins a chat inquiry, do they feel welcome? Go through each point of the buyer’s journey and consider how staff can improve the CX through each phase.

Embrace Forward Thinking

These days, the small business landscape is challenging because of reduced in-person activity. One way to get through the social distancing era unscathed is to look forward to future changes and adapt. For example, people are likely to continue shopping from home and requesting curbside pickup for the foreseeable future.

Even once the pandemic passes, the convenience of these services will linger. Implement changes now so you’re ready for the shifts in consumer spending. If a majority of your sales currently happen online, that isn’t likely to change. Make sure your website has an excellent CX and embrace omnichannel experiences.

Ask your customers what else they’d like to see. Some of the best ideas come from those you serve. While you can’t embrace every view, you can certainly start a few new traditions and keep your patrons happy.

CX Doesn’t Change

Even if the world can change drastically in a few short months, the general principles of an exceptional customer experience remain the same. Focus on solving pain points for customers. The problems they face during a global pandemic may be different from what they had before, but you should still be a beacon of hope.

Offer them answers and strive to be the best in your field. You’ll gain loyal fans who will stay with you long after the virus fades into obscurity.


Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash

Lexie Lu

Lexie Lu is a UX content strategist and writer. She is a contributor to Marketo, Website Magazine and Envato. Feel free to subscribe to her design blog, Design Roast, or follow her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.
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