Five ways to stellar customer service post-COVID

customer service, customer satisfaction, loyalty

Customer service has never been more important as we move along the path towards “post-COVID”. Financial and social hardship is the ultimate test of a relationship between a company and its customers and as many businesses re-open and interactions return to face-to-face, it’s going to be important to get it right.

Optimising customer experience and effectively managing connection is crucial right now, while clients are still vulnerable and in “rebuild” mode. What you do now will set the tone for the future and post-pandemic opinions of your business.

Take the customer on a journey

As we follow the road out of lockdown, it’s expected there may be some residual confusion and reservations from customers, so communicating with them and taking them on a step-by-step journey is a fantastic way to reassure and stay connected. Reaching out to customers to thank them for sticking with the business is a great first step to help clients feel valued. Can you offer a gift or reward? How can you communicate the value you as a business offer your customers? Asking for feedback and insights is another way clients can feel valued. Frequent updates via social media and email allow businesses to share news with clients and show them what developments and changes are taking place at your business (along with the great experiences other return clients are already enjoying).

Genuine communication and care

With the intense strain the pandemic has placed on people, some customers will face different challenges as they readjust. A safe environment has always been one where communication is open, two-way, genuine and frequent. There needs to be an ongoing level of trust that businesses are doing the right thing and are being transparent. “Post pandemic” is an ongoing process. Customers should be given different avenues and opportunities to communicate their needs and concerns back to the business because when you feel supported and understood, you value the brand you are dealing with. That’s been a real positive that has come out of the pandemic and many businesses have really taken the relationship with their customers to a new level. Prioritising the continuation of that genuine relationship should be on every business’s radar.

Empathy will be required for some

Customers have been affected differently by the pandemic and some have been impacted health-wise or financially at various degrees – and some have fallen very hard. If you want to connect with and serve your customers, situational empathy will be required and a degree of flexibility within the business to help address the needs of different customers.

Brush up on service recovery

Service recovery encompasses the strategies that are used to successfully work with upset and angry customers. With the added stressors of the COVID and post-COVID landscape, revisiting your service recovery skills, rehearsing with staff and learning new skills where required will assist to diffuse difficult and heated situations.

Customer service around the clock

With the shift to online shopping came a sense of immediacy that extended to customer service inquiries. Many brands have been open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and, as a result, customers have come to expect customer service staff to be on hand to respond to any inquiries they have. This is something that all brands need to consider – whether you’re an online service or not – because the expectation is there regardless, and customers will become frustrated by slow replies and lack of attention to their queries. For small businesses, auto-responders are a great way to manage this – you can confirm the message has been received, let customers know the hours that the customer service team is online and give an indication of when they can expect a reply.

While the pandemic and lockdowns have threatened the everyday sense of security Australians are accustomed to, businesses can restore some stability to their customer and client base through responsive, empathetic service and genuine communication.