Customer service

How To Continue Offering Excellent Customer Service During A Crisis

Enreach 28/04/2020
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With the COVID-19 pandemic growing day-by-day, companies around the world face a crisis very different from anything they have seen before. The situation is evolving almost faster than we can follow, with updates every minute, and that can put a business at serious risk.

At this point, you need to ask yourself the following question: How to protect the organization and its employees while continuing to serve customers during a rapidly developing pandemic? The fact that the coronavirus pandemic is unprecedented does not mean that a company does not have to be prepared. Maintaining excellent customer service despite increased cancellations, refunds, and stress is still possible with a business and crisis management plan.

Whether it’s the COVID-19 outbreak or a natural disaster like a hurricane or tornado, no business is 100% isolated from the unexpected. And if you are not well prepared for a crisis, the effects can be devastating for both large and small companies. This is because every time they cannot carry out their normal daily activities, they risk losing important clients, reducing income and even closing the business.

A business and crisis management plan is a way to protect the company from unplanned events, such as fires, floods, thefts, IT failures, or pandemics. It offers a strategy and the resources you need to deal with the crisis and weather the storm. The goal: to go out without tarnishing reputation, damaging operations, adversely affecting finances, or harming employees.

Business crisis management is not only essential to prepare you for unexpected emergencies, such as COVID-19, but it is critical to excellent customer service.

How To Develop A Crisis Communication Plan

The development of a crisis communication plan is a process that requires the formation of a team, a working group or a committee of those responsible for developing its policies and practices. It is essential that both management and frontline employees participate in business awareness, prevention, and business continuity protocols.

According to Gallup, a crisis communication plan, particularly during the COVID-19 outbreak, should include:

  • A practical guide to remote work, which includes the use of virtual, video and audio technology.
  • Virtual trainings for team members.
  • Documentation of all critical processes and procedures.
  • Distribution of call center scripts and agent communications.
  • A summary of who is involved and in what actions for each crisis scenario.
  • A resolution plan for each type of crisis.

A crisis communication plan should help prepare companies for any event, so that you can avoid long-term damage and maintain a great reputation with your customers. Ideally, it should even help you increase productivity during and after a crisis by providing each employee with a roadmap for their role during the crisis, so there is more action and less downtime.

7 Crisis Communication Tips For Great Customer Service

Call centers can be particularly affected during a crisis. As the frontline team in charge of customer service and satisfaction, agents are in charge of maintaining high quality standards during a very difficult time.

1) Gather All The Necessary Information

First, all the necessary information about the crisis must be gathered to know how to respond to be effective. For example, during a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations need to know what is happening and how new recommendations from CDC, WHO and the Government could affect business.

In addition, all relevant customer service and communication policies need to be reviewed to determine how they will change during the crisis. Dates should also be provided to customers; if possible, so they know how long the new policies and procedures will remain in effect.

2) Develop A Crisis Management Team

Creating a crisis management team helps lead the charge in contact centers. This team will help keep the company and employees focused on the objectives and tasks to be carried out throughout the situation. The purpose should be to bring together a group of experts to ensure business continuity.

3) Create A Knowledge Database For The Crisis

Since the very nature of a crisis is that it is unexpected, it can be a struggle, particularly in the beginning, figuring out what to do and how to deal with it. To ensure excellent customer service during a crisis, it is essential to provide managers, employees and customers with all the necessary knowledge.

This database should be easy to update and should contain all the key information related to crisis management, including the current impact on the company, a list of members of the crisis management team, all updated policies, the approved language to speak with clients, as well as the fulfillment of expectations.

4) Prepare Crisis Management Customer Service Responses

While knowledge databases will provide extensive information on the company’s crisis management response, it is not as complex or detailed as its customer service and call center agents require. They must be able to anticipate the kinds of questions, concerns, and situations they will face during the crisis. The objective is to ensure that the brand presents a united front and offers quality support to all customers.

A list of responses prepared for crisis management should ensure that team members are able to respond confidently to all customer inquiries in a realistic, clear, helpful, empathetic and consistent manner.

5) Make Emotional Intelligence A Priority

During a crisis, understanding and empathy will be key to the success of your customer service. Agents must demonstrate emotional intelligence. This is how the organization will differentiate itself from its competitors in every interaction with users.

The key to emotional intelligence in the call center is the ability to recognize and regulate emotions during each interaction. There are six crucial steps that agents must follow:

  • Anticipate customer requests using prepared crisis management customer service responses.
  • Offer explanations, using facts and figures, about how the company is affected by the crisis and what it is doing to offer a solution to its customers.
  • Educate clients with the most up-to-date information on the crisis and its impact on customer service, product production, etc.
  • Build a good relationship by showing interest and care in how the crisis is affecting your customers.
  • Provide emotional support by listening and asking the right questions.
6) Make Sure Business Leaders Are Always Available

Management is critical during a crisis. The advice the organization offers, how it responds to the crisis, and the policies and procedures they implement will guide every aspect of their business crisis management plan. The key is to ensure that the leaders and managers of each department are in frequent communication with all their employees.

For this, tools such as social networks, email, text messages, videoconferencing systems to hold meetings with the team, or the telephone to answer questions and provide the latest updates on policies and protocols are very useful.

7) Provide Omnichannel Support

You have to interact with customers where and how you want by offering omnichannel support. It is always important to interact with users on your channel of choice, but it is particularly essential for success during a crisis. Agents must be available to respond and interact with customers, whether by email, social media, live chat, or by phone.

An omnichannel branding strategy for the customer service team can make the most difference in your experience during a crisis.

In conclusion, the company’s response, good or bad, during a crisis can increase or decrease its reputation and, therefore, its profitability. The key is to be prepared for the unexpected with a well-developed crisis communication plan that considers all stages of the crisis and provides an outline of the types of policies and procedures you should create to avoid negative consequences.

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