March 24, 2020 by Siobhan Climer, John Irey, and Kleid Gjataj
It’s no secret that the recent coronavirus pandemic has caused a great deal of upheaval for businesses across the globe. From shifting to an entirely remote workforce to delivering essential services during a crisis, organizations are tasked with overcoming incredible challenges as the basics of operations change daily.
An enormous part of business is delivering on exceptional customer experience. Many of a business’ customers are experiencing increased stress – both financially and emotionally – and may have more pressing needs than under more typical circumstances. At the same time, resources are limited. That makes delivering on exceptional customer experience more difficult.
What Is Customer Experience?
The customer experience – or the total product of interactions between a customer and an organization over the course of a relationship – is a valuable metric to contact centers and businesses seeking to improve. Our experience tells us there are probably at least 50 different metrics used to measure customer experience today.
Here are a few of the metrics commonly used:
How Businesses Measure Customer Experience
- Net Promoter Score (NPS)
- Customer Satisfaction (CSat)
- First Call Resolution
- Average Call Handling Time
- Average Call Abandonment Rate
- Customer Churn Rate
- Customer Effort Score (CES)
- Loyalty Measures
- Event Surveys
- Periodic Customer Surveys
- Sentiment Analysis
- Time to Resolution
- …and More
This list includes both qualitative and quantitative metrics. Businesses utilize these metrics to determine, relative to past performance and goals, the quality of the customer experience.
Why Is Customer Experience Important?
We’ll let the numbers do the talking for a moment.
Qualtrics – formerly the Temkin Group – is a research and customer experience platform developer and explored the ROI of Customer Experience in 2018.
The report shows that $1 billion companies can expect to earn, on average, an additional $700 million within three years of investing in customer experience.
Qualtrics also found that 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a good experience. That additional spending goes straight to your revenue column. The rate of pricing premiums increases to correspond with the price of the item; if a product or service is expensive, customers will pay up to 18% more for a great customer experience.
In the end, customer experience is important for two main reasons. First, it offers direct financial benefits to your business. Second, it elevates your brand and improves lead generation. People talk about their experiences with brands.
If you’re good, they’ll tell one friend (87% of the time).
If you’re bad, they’ll tell three friends (95% of the time).
Why The Customer Experience Can Suffer In A Crisis
Consider what has occurred in the wake of the coronavirus. Fear and anxiety led consumers to engage in reactive buying behaviors (i.e. buying pallets of toilet paper or gallons of hand sanitizer). These behaviors put pressure on retailers, both brick-and-mortar and ecommerce sites, and affected overall customer service.
- Today, items are out-of-stock. Employee resources are strained as workers struggle to restock shelves (both in-person and digitally) and handle the increased traffic flow.
- Digital platforms that offer remote collaboration tools are experienced unprecedented use, prompting some platforms to fail.
- Call centers at healthcare clinics, insurance companies, and general utilities are forced to redesign call trees and alert customers to increased wait times – in some cases, shifting to conversational AI technology.
These various challenges deeply impact the customer experience. With more stress on businesses, it is harder to meet customer demands. At the same time, the specific nature of Covid-19 has forced many businesses to close office doors and move to a remote environment.
Businesses unprepared to deploy a remote environment are focused on getting agents up to speed and keeping the wheel spinning – not on delighting customers and delivering on exceptional customer experience.
This increased customer and employee stress is a recipe for a bad customer experience.
Finding Success During A Crisis
Companies that successfully navigate this crisis are those that focus on the basics, and the customer experience is a fundamental element of operations today.
Customers across the world are panicked, buying excess groceries and supplies. Successful companies will help customers feel safe, either through meeting demands or engaging in community-focused activities.
In fact, many customers have come to the aid of the businesses they love. By buying gift cards, shopping online, ordering takeout, tipping extra, deferring refunds, and offering virtual thanks, customers are collectively acknowledging companies they believe deliver something great.
The best way to find success during a crisis is to be a company customers love. And the best way to do that is to deliver exceptional customer experiences, again and again. If this hasn’t been a focus in the past, it will be harder – but not impossible – to make that pivot now.
How To Deliver On The Customer Experience Right Now
Empathy – Start by being human. Almost everyone is impacted by the pandemic at this time. Share in this experience with customers, recognize shifting priorities and needs, and offer kindness and compassion where possible.
Authenticity – Be genuine. Ask how people are and really listen to their answers. Provide honesty in your responses as well.
Communication – Be clear. Avoid clichés and repetition. Provide succinct communications that offer new information or help. Customers are inundated with emails and SMS messages from companies explaining how they care deeply about their employees and customers – don’t be just another voice in the mix.
Simplicity – Make it easy. Whatever service or product you offer, make it as easy as possible for your customers to use your service and purchase your products. Customers are worn out during a crisis. Simplicity will be a relief and comfort.
It’s Not Business As Usual – But It’s Still Business
For businesses to withstand a crisis of magnitude, they must deliver on exceptional customer experiences. For many in competitive industries, events like 9/11 and the 2008 recession effectively removed poor performers and on-the-edge companies from the mix.
The same will be true of the coronavirus pandemic. Businesses and organizations that are not focused on the customer experience will likely not survive.
Our teams are on stand-by to help your organization withstand the economic and technological impacts of Covid-19. Find out about our remote and collaboration service offerings, or reach out to speak to one of our contact center experts on how you can ensure your call center is able to deliver an exceptional customer experience – now and in the future.
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About The Authors
John Irey is a Principal Consultant at Mindsight focused on Cisco platforms. With nearly 20 years of experience in information technology, John has helped businesses of every size optimize the technology powering the contact center. He seeks to provide a consultative voice to contact center leaders and continues to focus on emerging technology, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence.
Kleid Gjataj is a Principal Consultant at Mindsight focused on Genesys platforms. With nearly 15 years of experience in both domestic and international consulting, Kleid helps contact center s of all sizes bridge the gap between business and technology. His extensive experience with IVR, ACD, screen pops, omnichannel, speech analytics, quality management, outbound dialer, and custom applications is grounded in understanding the critical value of the customer journey.
Siobhan Climer, Mindsight’s Technology Writer, writes about technology trends in education, healthcare, and business. With over a decade of experience communicating complex concepts around everything from cybersecurity to neuroscience, Siobhan is an expert at breaking down technical and scientific principles so that everyone takes away valuable insights. When she’s not writing tech, she’s reading and writing fantasy, hiking, and exploring the world with her twin daughters. Find her on twitter @techtalksio.
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