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COVID-19 Customer Service

ecommerce

Customer service adjustments. During the last several months we have all had to make a lot of changes to our lives. We all have our own personal story on hardships as well as new opportunities. Working from home for the first time. Working while trying to home school kids for the first time ever. Getting accustomed to wearing a mask for the first time. Social distancing all while trying to work and take care of our families.

During this time I think that most consumers have shown appreciation for the essential front line workers and we understood when our Amazon order took 2 weeks instead of 2 days. We appreciate those hard working people sacrificing for the well being of others.

Are Things About to Change?

While for the most part, people continue to have patience. Some people are showing a great deal of resistance to mask wearing and retailers and restaurant owners have had to quickly train employees on how to handle an unhappy guest who didn’t want to comply.

My concern is more along the lines of people using the pandemic a an excuse for poor customer service. I have two examples of what I am referring to.

Local Steals and Deals

I am located in the Charlotte, NC area, and I see their commercials daily. Sometimes as part of my local evening news (slower news days). They have a spokesperson who is very compelling and does a great job selling products. Their About Us section on their website states the following:

Local Steals and Deals is operated by Knocking (www.knocking.co) in association with Cox Media Group.

We connect the best brands with Cox Media Group’s audience, offering exclusive deals.

I like the concept. However what I wasn’t impressed with was the customer service. I placed an order 2 months ago and never received my purchase. I honestly think I would have forgotten about it altogether if it were not for the commercials! After emailing the company, I found out that the product is no longer available. It left me wondering how many people placed orders and then forgot about them? Automatically refunding customers on out of stock items, should be part of any e-commerce site these days.

Website Hosting

A quick chat with my hosting company regarding a log in issue I was having kept me busy for over an hour trying to trouble shoot with them in a chat. Finally, I was told my issue would be escalated and that I should try again in a few hours. Good enough. I did what he said and even waited until the next day. Still had the same problem. Got on the chat with them again, knowing full well that I would have to start from the beginning. Sure enough. When I asked if my issue was escalated as I was told, I received an awful reply. I was told that because of COVID19, they were working with reduced staff. Really? You are working on a computer from your home office, I would bet. How could COVID be affecting your customer service?

Don’t Neglect Your Customer Service

Times are hard and budgets are tight. Now is not the time however to neglect your customer service standards. In fact, I believe it is the time to make them an even more important priority. Evaluating what is happening when a customer engages with your business or brand is more important than ever before. People will remember the businesses who came through for them during this time.

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How to Develop your Digital Customer Experience

digitally connected customer

In today’s crowded marketplace, brands are finding it more difficult to differentiate themselves from one another. When you have multiple brands in multiple industries offering the same products you do, you need to give customers a reason to choose you over them. Many brands today are working to find that differentiation in customer experience. In fact, experts believe that by 2020, customer experience will be even more important than price or product quality in differentiating one brand from another.
Companies need a digital customer experience strategy to ensure that they build the right experiences to suit their customers’ needs and expectations. It’s important that your strategy supports business objectives, accurately reflects your brand, and aids in prioritizing which customer goals to support and how to support them.


Organizations that aspire to differentiate based on digital customer experience need a clear, cohesive execution strategy. Customer experience professionals have the expertise required to create experiences that deliver value to customers and the business and should take the lead in developing a digital customer experience strategy for their firm. To start:


• Define your business and brand objectives. Your company’s mission and value statements should guide all activities and investments. A customer experience strategy that defines what the role of digital interaction points will be — and will not be — must be built on the foundation of the company’s overall business objectives and brand attributes.


• Identify and seek understanding of your target users. A digital customer experience strategy must define how the company will deliver experiences to its target customers through digital touchpoints. Therefore, a digital customer experience strategy must include a deep qualitative understanding of the audience members’ key goals, how they accomplish those goals, and their expectations of the brand.


• Prioritize and fund critical touchpoints. The world’s largest organizations market and sell to many customer segments, but an experience designed to serve the needs of all segments in the same way will not work. A customer experience strategy prioritizes the most important channels for delivering on customer goals, keeping focus on the activities that provide the highest value to the most valuable customers, the most important business objectives, and the brand.

How Can Digital Experience Management Help Your Business?
The digital experience used to revolve around strategic posts on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn. But today’s companies are dealing with far more digital reach…managing email communication, website landing sites, checkout experiences, inventory, ad placement, and more. And all of it has to work together. Digital Experience Management (DXM) can manage it all.
In short, DXM helps customers “shop” rather than simply “buy.” It makes the entire shopping experience more memorable for them—and helps you know what’s working (or not) at the same time.


According to Dushyant Mohanty, Global Transformation Head – Industry Unit, Industrial Manufacturing, Energy, Banking & Financial Services, at Tata Consultancy Services, that means moving from being product-centric to being customer-centric. When creating a customer experience journey, companies should put themselves in the shoes of their customers to see if they are getting a solution that meets their needs, or if the company’s offerings are outdated.
In a digital transformation, the customer experience needs to be customized and in real time. That means adjusting as needed and using the correct customer persona. Mohanty points out that a digital strategy is more than just updating a few processes. For many companies, it’s a complete overhaul of their approach to service and customer experience. To make a real change, executives need to take a step back and look at things objectively to see if they are reaching customers and achieving their goals. The underlying technology structure has a huge impact on customer experience, as does the data strategy. Start with these as a foundation to customer experience.


In the end, it really comes down to having a growth mindset. Companies that can embrace digital transformation for customer experience are the ones that don’t simply do what’s always been done but instead look for new solutions to meet customers’ needs. Businesses need to always be evaluating their approach to customer experience to stay on top of new trends and technologies. A digital transformation can help companies become more customer-centric to guide their customers through the changing digital world.

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How to Talk to your Customers More Effectively

Heard any of these before? “I’m going to put you on hold for just a second.”; “I think you misunderstood me just now — what I actually said was…”; “I understand you are upset, but…”

Let me guess…those statements frustrated you more than helped you. In these instances, customers were seeking help but what they received was a negative interaction brought about by tone and wording. Although the problem could still be resolved, the customers received a negative customer experience, and unfortunately that’s what they’ll remember.

Effective communication is the key to building and nurturing any relationship, whether personal or professional. Communicating with customers effectively can help you gain their loyalty – leading to repeat purchases, positive word-of-mouth, and referrals.

But on the flipside, failure to communicate well can create dissatisfaction, frustration, and a decrease in sales. And, in the day and age of social media, negative word-of-mouth from unhappy customers can spread like wildfire, tarnishing your reputation.

Regardless of the medium through which you communicate with customers, the bottom line is that it needs to be done well. Here are some simple ways to communicate with customers effectively.

Use the Right Tone

In some situations, it makes sense to take an authoritative tone, for example when providing a technical answer about software functions to a B2B customer. Other scenarios may call for a more empathetic tone, such as assisting a customer who is frustrated with a malfunctioning product.

How and when we accentuate words and phrases also conveys a message. Customer service expert Shep Hyken illustrated this in a recent column, pointing out how vastly different common responses to customers can be. In a café, servers often respond to a customer’s thank you with “No problem,” or “My pleasure.” They may then ask a customer “What else can I get for you?” or “How is everything?” All of these phrases are very common in the service industry, but Hyken points out that a sincere “My pleasure” is the preferable phrase in response to customer thanks because it more effectively communicates that you value the customer. Similarly, a caring “What else can I get for you?” conveys a willingness to provide additional service in a way that “How is everything?” can’t replicate. Both are great examples of why tone matters in customer communication.

Choosing the Right Words

Let’s revisit our opening example: “I’m going to put you on hold for just a second…” Both parties know “just a second” is a figure of speech and it sets an unrealistic expectation. A better approach is to ask customers if you can put them on hold and give them a ballpark timeframe for when you’ll be back.

Using the word “but” in a sentence negates everything that was said before it. More effective phrasing would be an acknowledgment of the customer’s frustration and an apology: “I can understand your frustration and I’m very sorry you experienced that”. With this response, the customer will feel heard and may be more receptive to discussing solutions.

It’s also important not to sound defensive or deflective. Instead of saying, “You misunderstood me,” an agent could reply, “Sorry about the misunderstanding, what I meant to say was…” to put the focus back on the customer issue and avoid escalating the situation.

And try to avoid scripted language. It is impersonal and customers are quick to understand if you’re resorting to such responses in your conversations with them. Make sure your support representatives have real conversations with your customers.

Focus on Quality and Sentiment

In a competitive environment, it’s easy to get lost in a web of metrics that are focused on quicker resolution times. Quicker resolution means fully resolving a customer’s issue in the quickest possible time. 51% of customers believe that they can get the fastest resolution to their problems over the phone, followed by live chat (23%). But instead of worrying about hitting certain metric goals, focus on the quality of your response and develop a team of representatives who are committed to engaging meaningfully with customers. Train your team to be your customer’s ally and try to solve their problems effectively.

You also need to equip your team with the right tools. Your representative should instantly be able to pull up a customer’s records. This can include information about their purchase history or any recent interactions with your team. Information and insights such as these can help to give your team member some context about a customer’s issue. This allows the support representative to share relevant and accurate information. Lack of accuracy is one of the top reasons for customers to get frustrated with support.

Conclude your Conversations Properly

Conclusions are just as important as your first impressions. Customers can tell when support representatives are in a hurry to attend to the next person in line. Your eagerness to solve one more ticket could cost you a customer. Make sure your representatives end their conversations well, even if that extends the call by a few minutes. Your objective should be to end the conversation in a way that leaves your customer happy and content.

The Bottom Line on Communicating Effectively

It’s important to remember that customers seeking help aren’t always looking for a solution or additional information. Sometimes how their issue is resolved can be more important than actually fixing the problem because it indicates how much a company cares about their business.

Representatives who use the right tone and choose their words carefully send a positive signal to customers that they are respected and valued. Communicating effectively requires people skills, but it’s also helpful for agents to have the right tools. That allows them to understand customer needs immediately, find answers quickly and efficiently, and communicate effectively with every customer.

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