April 29, 2020
Every organization is navigating the changes brought on by COVID-19 and, as time passes, determining how they can pivot. Kevin Sneader and Shubham Singhal of Mckinsey & Company outlined five stages businesses will pass through on their way “to the next normal that will emerge after the battle against coronavirus has been won: Resolve, Resilience, Return, Reimagination, and Reform.”
Organizations must know what stage they are currently in order to identify and follow the correct strategy. Knowing what customers and employees need helps inform that knowledge. We recommended asking customers and listening to their responses earlier this month. To support that, we’re offering free surveys to monitor how remote employees are doing and a complimentary model-tuning service to ensure speech analytics software can comprehend updated words and phrases.
As we move forward in this situation, it is important to continue hearing what people are telling you and learning with a fresh perspective. To that end, we evaluated what trends we have seen across clients in the retail industry, as well as recommendations for responding strategically.
Both of these offerings were already important for retailers but have moved from a preference to necessity for many. People appreciate retailers allowing them to keep their social distance, but they haven’t lowered their CX expectations. They want delivery drivers and employees to be pleasant, patient, and prompt. If they are not, customers will look to your competitors. If you partner with a vendor for any component of fulfillment, remember customers will still hold your organization accountable if their needs are not met.
Research from PowerReviews indicates online orders are up and conversions have doubled. Like any interaction, you only get one chance to make a first impression. How easy or difficult these new online shoppers find their experience is paramount. If they get confused, they will possibly leave feedback on your website or reach out to your contact center or chat agents. If their initial experience with the website was not ideal, how your organization responds to their feedback, call, or chat is a chance to solidify the relationship.
As Rick Blair, Verint Vice President of Product Strategy and XM, told CMS Wire: “successful growth strategies must include agile CX programs that implement holistic experience management strategies, and enable companies to understand and act on insight captured across customer, employee, brand and product experience.”
New online shoppers are part of the reason wait times have increased for support. Another reason is that not all agents can work from home, reducing headcount to respond to customer inquiries. Additionally, new questions are being asked that your agents may not have been trained to answer (e.g., how does curbside pickup work).
Verint XM Solutions Implementation Director Josh Varga explained it this way: “First, let your employees express their empathy to customers, even if that means going off script or spending slightly longer on a call. Then let them act on it, for example by letting them waive a fee or extend a deadline. That’s not to say there shouldn’t be guidelines and limits … But most companies should be able to find the right balance.”
Options for returning items have reduced with so many stores closed. Some customers have been frustrated to learn that now there is a fee to return items.
Many people have lost their jobs or been furloughed recently. Losing income will force them to adjust how they spend their money and it’s possible retail purchases will be reduced.
In our digital age, keeping track of inventory across websites, apps, and retail stores was already complex. With all of the changes taking place it has become even more true. As a result, some orders that customers have placed and paid for were later cancelled. This can be a jarring experience, especially if it’s an important item.
As Verint VP of Global CX, Nancy Porte, wrote: “In CX, the mission is always the same. It’s the tactics that change.” And there is no better time than now to focus on that mission and provide an excellent experience. These are emotional times for most people, and it’s been proven that strong emotions make an experience more memorable. That can cut both ways, so taking the time and effort to improve your CX tactics now will likely leave a positive impression that stays with customers after we’ve come out of the current situation
Written by Charlie Danoff, Senior Analyst
CX Best Practices, CX Strategy, Retail