Customer experience can make or break a business—but with the world currently in turmoil, how are businesses meant to ensure their clients remain happy?
We share six methods for connecting with customers in 2020.
Though some of these may be known to marketers, the way they are handled has changed—we explain why and how that is.
1. Ramp Up Communication
Communication needs to become a priority if businesses hope to improve customer experience this year.
You need to communicate more effectively—but that doesn’t mean bombarding your customers with messages.
Use available tools to make your communication more engaging—create a timeline infographic or send out short, sharp emails that solve customer problems.
Choose the most important messaging that has to reach your client base—and pick the right moments to share it.
There are certain kinds of questions that almost all customers will have—especially concerning new policies or ways of distributing products.
These queries should be addressed quickly and thoroughly—don’t allow your customers time to surmise about what your company is planning to do.
When people don’t have information, they tend to fill in the gaps with their own knowledge, leading them to make incorrect assumptions, which could hurt brand perception.
To ensure customer-friendly communication, update your FAQ page, add a message on your landing page directing people to new information, and use question keywords in your blogs.
2020 has been a tumultuous year—companies have had to make sweeping changes to the ways they work, and it is impacting customers, as well.
Sharing regular informational updates with your client base is necessary—for instance, whether your store is closed, has been deemed an essential business, or if you are moving online.
Clients should know where, how, and when they can reach you—ensure that this information is readily available across your channels.
But remember not to send out too many updates—you aren’t the only business they support and if you send too many emails, they may unsubscribe.
Customer experience isn’t solely an external matter—internal conditions impact how clients embrace your brand.
One of the biggest fallouts of the current global situation has been on the state of employment.
With so many companies losing revenue, the general reaction has been to let go of staff. While that may save businesses money, less staff leads to slower service for customers.
Additionally, the optics of letting staff go during a crisis when new jobs are hard to come by can be disconcerting for your client base.
Many customers might be wondering if your company can’t take care of its own staff, how can they be expected to support you?
Whatever your actions concerning your employees, transparency is necessary—let your customers know what you have decided to do, and how you will protect your team.
This goes a long way in cementing goodwill between you and your employees, customers, and the community.
2. Be Human and Helpful
Authenticity is a vital component of brand messaging. Real people are receiving your emails and reading your posts—they should feel like an actual person is speaking to them.
Your messaging formats for the rest of 2020 should reflect the people that make up your brand—remain true to your brand tone but incorporate empathy in your words.
Remember, while the global crisis is purely academic for some people, for a number of customers, it may have meant the loss of a loved one, a job, or a way of life.
You must acknowledge the toll this crisis has had on people—but don’t use austere language that can come across as cold or aloof.
Be true to your company so your customers will feel more comfortable with your brand.
You should also avoid looking like you’re trying to spin the situation—or worse, profiting off of it.
Don’t create package deals or discounts with the words ‘COVID’ or ‘Coronavirus’—this isn’t Black Friday; it’s a pandemic. Treat it with the gravity it deserves.
That doesn’t mean your brand can’t offer services or reductions targeted at making life easier for your customers during this period.
You can waive delivery fees, offer home delivery, reduce costs, or hold contests—but word them carefully.
This is your chance to step up for your community by easing their burdens, and their fears. That should be the thrust of any marketing activities you undertake.
By putting the consumer first, you enable your company to deliver a customer experience that is less about selling to people and more about adding value to their lives.
3. Have a Multi-Channel Strategy
For the majority of 2020—and beyond—customers are going to be largely online. That means your business will have to spend just as much time in the digital realm to reach them.
Your business cannot rely on people stopping by at the store for updates or a quick chat—these activities have to be conducted online.
To make a more efficient digital strategy, you need to have a presence on multiple channels, and in various capacities.
For instance, emails and social media are excellent tools for sharing updates on the business.
Your website should also be geared towards prioritizing the most important information on high-traffic pages—such as homepages, landing pages, blogs, and checkout pages.
Don’t just use digital media to talk at your clients—you should also aim to educate them and to entertain.
Now is the time to hold webinars and online video calls where you share insights with your fellow businesses, marketers, and customers.
But communication needs to go both ways to enhance the customer experience with your brand.
Allow your customers to contact you via social media comments, website contact forms, and via video calls.
Implement chatbots and live chat on your website and in social messaging so your consumers always get instant responses.
Be open to their feedback and suggestions—answer their queries to the best of your abilities, and if you don’t have a reply, let them know that you will check and get back to them.
This is not the time to be inflexible about your communication methods—use the channels available to you to ensure your customers can reach you when and where they want.
4. Automate Your Messaging
Automating your messaging can improve customer experience, while also diminishing the burden on marketers to manually share content.
For organizations that have already been using automation software, it is important to look at what has been scheduled in the content calendar.
One wouldn’t want incongruous messaging to be sent out during these uncertain times.
It can be difficult to go through scheduled posts, but it’s better to spend time conducting this exercise than to share messages that conflict with the present circumstances.
Bringing in new automation software right now could be beneficial for companies—aside from social media and email scheduling, marketing automation can be used in other areas.
Automating software such as chatbots can ensure that customers receive timely responses to queries—and even complete solutions depending on the severity of their problem.
Mobile marketing automation is also a great way to keep audiences notified of deals, updates, and to keep them engaged—mobiles are with us everywhere, after all.
It is important to note that automation doesn’t give companies license to bombard their clientele with messages.
Emails, SMS messages, and social media posts should be spaced out—it is also best to keep the text short and not include too many calls-to-action or links.
To build better customer experiences, you need to put the customer first—focus your automated marketing on informing your client base and not solely on improving clicks and traffic.
5. Listen to Your Customers More
Another area where automation helps to improve customer experience is in listening to your client base.
Automated social media tools allow marketers to understand the pulse of the people.
With sentiment tracking and hashtag analysis, companies can find out how their customers feel about their brand and what gaps they still need to fill.
Tools are also useful for staying on-trend—with so much about the world changing on an hourly basis, it is necessary to know immediately how your company needs to adapt.
But you don’t always need technology to hear what others have to say—talking to your employees will give you plenty of information about your clientele.
Whether your store is open and has staff manning it, or your teams are mostly working from home or online, they are in the frontlines when meeting customers.
It is imperative in the current environment to listen to employees’ experiences with customers—their insights and feedback are first-hand and could warrant direct action.
Getting feedback from customers themselves is also something companies should be looking to do.
Ask customers to fill out survey forms online sharing their experiences with your brand—what do they find convenient, and what could be done to make them feel more comfortable?
Acting on these suggestions will make a massive difference to how customers engage with your brand—and will give you the direction you need to grow your business.
6. Look to the Future
The way we work and live has changed in 2020—but these changes are going to remain for a while longer.
Make an executive decision to adapt the way your brand engages with the people around it from now on.
Learn from what customers, employees, and the community are saying—what they need from you, the company, and what gaps remain in your knowledge base.
The changes you make now cannot be a one-time deal—bolstering digital customer experience needs to become a priority.
Listening to employees who deal first-hand with customers has to take precedence—you can’t make growth-based decisions if you haven’t got the pulse of the people.
Think of automation as an extension of your company—this isn’t something to invest in only in the short-term.
There are benefits to automation that could spread throughout the organization—the insights you learn now could shape the future of your company.
Start thinking of ways to experiment—in the way you market your business, conduct sales, and reach customers.
Business models are changing and you need to learn now what will work next year and even five years from now.
It is best not to try everything—don’t bring in new technology or ideas if you can’t handle them. But don’t be afraid to experiment a little and adapt to customer needs.
Businesses will agree that customer experience has always been central to the way they work.
But with so many rapid changes taking over the world, it is important to be aware of the ways that clients can be impacted.
The six methods we have shared will help customers engage with your business and for the company to grow in the coming years.