April 2, 2020

Coronavirus: What to do in Customer Service to face the crisis

COVID-19 continues advancing and expanding around the world, impacting not only people's daily lives but also businesses. Several industries have been affected and customer service is no exception.

Martin Frascaroli, Aivo’s CEO, answers CX executives' most frequent questions regarding the impact of the virus and what strategies companies can implement to stay on top of the situation.

How does COVID-19 impact companies’ day-to-day?

On one side, remote work is now the only way to continue operating and offering flexibility to employees. However, it can become a challenge for those companies and contact centers that are not used to this format and that don’t have cloud technology to support it.

On the other hand, quarantine and fear of infection are affecting different industries, which are receiving a great influx of customer inquiries. Customers are demanding attention now more than ever and they expect companies to respond immediately and decisively.  

Here are some of the industries that are experiencing high demand from their customers due to the coronavirus so far:

- Telecommunications and Internet: the use of digital channels is growing as people are staying home more. This applies both to conversations between people, and between them and companies.

- Banks and financial services: greater use of credit cards and digital payment methods and more inquiries about loans and other financial concerns make us rethink the way these services operate.

- Education: schools, universities, and other educational institutions are moving to online courses to keep supporting their students.

- Ecommerce: confined consumers are turning to online stores not just for their daily food supply, but also for all kinds of products. Online orders are increasing.

What can I do NOW to mitigate the effects of coronavirus?

The most important aspect is to continue operating and decentralizing the main points of contact. This is essential for support teams to act as fast as possible with empathy and consistency. To achieve this, the key is to migrate phone and face-to-face assistance to digital channels.

Having said that, with the increase in demand and the lack of staff, many companies will not count with the necessary amount of agents to tackle big amounts of incoming inquiries.

That’s why our recommendation is to lean on automating technologies powered by conversational AI, such as chatbots. Applied to live chats and instant messaging apps, these technologies help answer customers’ frequently asked questions and work as teams’ co-pilots to help them focus on complex cases.

However, in today’s context, many companies can’t afford to go into a long-term implementation since they need to take action ASAP. That’s why our main advice, if you decide to go for automation, is to choose your top 20 questions and create content to answer them automatically.

With the right technology, this shouldn't take more than a week to get going.

What are the most efficient channels to tackle this crisis?

When shopping in a physical store or going to the bank is not an option, digital channels become the best possible solution. Before the coronavirus emerged, people already had an average of 1.5 million conversations with companies through digital channels per year.

In this context of uncertainty and emergency, instant messaging apps will become more relevant than ever before, especially channels like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and social media.

While email and phone conversations are often slow and bureaucratic, these apps allow companies to develop digital, empathetic, asynchronous and one-to-one communications between the customer and the agent.

What should I keep in mind to choose the right technology for this context?

Our main advice is that technology must adapt to strategy, not the other way around. And that strategy must respond to what customers want in times of crisis: conversations on their time, instant solutions, and natural, dynamic and empathetic interactions.  

Related article: Technology at the service of customers or customers at the service of technology?

Also, technology should be easy and fast to manage but also to implement. Relying on your IT team, which is probably overwhelmed with work as well, will misspend valuable time.

Finally, another important factor is that the technology you implement should be cloud-based so any employee can access the platform remotely and work from home during the quarantine.

What will happen in Customer Service after this situation?

Covid-19 will accelerate the changes already in place and will require us to view customer engagement differently. The virus will force brands to think creatively about how to connect with their customers.

Those features that up until last month were not essential, today are key to assisting your customers in the midst of this crisis and to continue operating by mitigating as much impact as possible.

It’s time to rethink how you want your customer service experience to be. Everyone is going through rough times and it is necessary to develop a strategy as empathetic and resolutive as possible that doesn’t just work to face this pandemic, but that will put the customer first in the long term.

If you'd like to know more about this, downdload our latest whitepaper for free "The post-coronavirus customer experience: CX strategies to navigate 2020".

We're here to help

We’re all in this together. Customer behavior is changing and as an entrepreneur, your strategies are probably being redefined to keep up.

If you’re thinking about implementing conversational technology and need to do it as soon as possible, you can count on us. With our quick onboarding program, you can implement our solutions in record time.

To learn more, schedule a call with one of our representatives. They’re available to talk to you and discuss strategies to address customer service in the current situation.