Providing excellent customer service while keeping your employees safe during the coronavirus pandemic can be challenging. The most important thing is to do is to remain calm, get organized, and think outside of the box. If you need some tips on how to keep operating your business during this trying time, read on.
COVID-19 is a new coronavirus that emerged from China in December 2019. COVID-19 spreads from person to person through the air. Symptoms include a cough, fever, and shortness of breath. In some cases the virus has proven to be deadly, however, the most at-risk individuals are seniors or people with pre-existing cardiovascular and respiratory problems.
The best way to prevent yourself from catching the virus is to avoid contact with others, wash your hands often, cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
The coronavirus has already had an impact on the global economy. The stock market has taken a plunge, travel bans and quarantines have been enforced, and grocery stores are completely sold out in certain areas due to panic.
For the sake of prevention, many European governments have ordered all non-essential businesses and organizations (other than pharmacies, grocery stores, post offices, doctor’s offices) to shut down temporarily.
We understand that not all jobs can be done remotely. However, if you are an e-commerce or SaaS business, we can assume that a lot of work can be done from home. Your customer service agents, developers, sales guys, and marketers can take their computers home, and continue working remotely. In essence, nothing has to change — as long as your employees have a good work ethic and stay motivated.
If you can’t ship out products, or deliver your services (for example, if you’re an airline that’s affected by the travel ban) offer your customers a compromise for compensation. For example, if you can’t issue refunds, offer your customers credits. The credits should have the equivalent value of their original purchase price and should be available to redeem in the future.
If you handle things in this way, your customers are bound to be more understanding, less frustrated, and more inclined to purchase from you again in the future.
In times like these, it’s important to mitigate losses. Shift your focus on what’s working right now. Offer sabbaticals, let people think of new profitable projects, cut company profits to let your employees feel financially stable and safe, or offer bundles and subscriptions that bring in less revenue in the long-run but prevent cash flow issues today. It’s time to think smart and keep it cool.
Focus on doing things you’ve never had time for. Maybe it’s time for the complete web redesign you’ve been putting off. Or maybe it’s time to jumpstart your blog again. Get creative, there’s always room for improvement.
When dealing with cancellations and refunds, it’s important to consider the human aspect of business and remain flexible and understanding towards your customers.
Navigate through long call and chat queues with smart call-routing, IVR, or pre-chat forms. Give your agents the time and space to get organized and answer all customer queries effectively.
Stay motivated and understand that current dips in customer satisfaction are only temporary. Try to think of new ways to engage with your customers that can transform the negative experience into a positive one.
Take inspiration from Martinus, a Slovak book store, which continues to provide customer service online. Customer service agents are ready to advise shoppers with their book selections in video chat sessions. It’s cute, it’s effective, and it’s memorable.
Because ticket volumes are high and only increasing, it’s important to re-allocate employees into customer support teams as needed. Even if the re-allocated employees aren’t knowledgeable enough regarding your product and the technical tickets surrounding it, you can assign them “beginner” tickets that deal with easy questions such as “How do I reset my password?” or “How can I upgrade my subscription?”
In this manner, your knowledgeable support employees can focus on tickets of higher complexity and importance. This is a win-win situation as you won’t be keeping your customers waiting, and you can utilize your available workforce without layoffs or new hires.
When ticket volumes are extremely high, it’s important to adjust agent shifts so that your customer support is available 24/7. If you can’t adjust agent shifts, think of ways to provide your customers support even when you’re not available. Think knowledge bases, forums, how-to-articles, offline chats, YouTube content — basically anything that can be utilized by your customers in self-service.
If you have the option of hiring temporary remote customer support agents, then definitely do so. As quite a few people might find themselves laid off and in a tough financial situation, it can be a lucrative position for many.
Preparing canned messages and automating certain email responses is a great way to resolve tickets quickly. For example, canned messages can be automatically sent to anyone requesting a refund. The message should have a pre-prepared text which walks the customer through the process and answers any FAQs regarding the refund.
Anything that can save you time during a high ticket influx period is a plus. Make use of advanced help desk tools such as the real-time typing view, which allows you to see what your customers are typing on live chat before they even hit send. This gives you extra time to look up their past orders, tickets, and all other important information that you might need when assisting them.
The key takeaway from all this is to stay positive and motivated. Think of out of the box solutions that can help your customers and your agents alike. Remember that this is all only temporary and that everything will return back to normal soon.
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