The Covid-19 pandemic has meant every business has had to learn how to keep working with massive changes and adaptations to day-to-day processes. But at the same time, your customers have also had to find new ways of interacting with you – some of which may have been frustrating, while others may have been amazing and very positive.
With restrictions starting to ease in many regions, now is the perfect time to look at ways you can learn something about how your business performed – quickly and easily, but also crucially without it costing you a fortune!
1. Dust off your customer strategy If you spent time before Covid defining your customer strategy, then it is very likely you have not prioritised it during this period – that's understandable. But if this is the case, retrieve that strategy from the drawer or the filing cabinet now, and revisit it. Does it still work? Are the customer journeys, their expectations and your internal processes still reality? If you didn’t have a customer strategy, then you should do the following:
a. Write down all the places a customer interacts with you. Is it online? Or on the phone? A physical location? What about emails and chat? Have these places changed, either as a result of the pandemic or for other reasons?
b. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. What do you think their fears, concerns or expectations have been over recent months?
c. Thinking about your own internal teams, have the changes in how you work changed the processes you have followed? Do you communicate more, or less? Or differently?
This doesn’t have to be complex – and it doesn’t have to be perfect, the aim is to spend some time thinking from your customers’ point of view when perhaps recently you have had to focus on your business as a priority. The next set of activities will help validate your thinking; and being ‘wrong’ at this stage isn’t important.
Once you have something, share it with everyone in your business, irrespective of whether they see themselves as front-line or not. Get some feedback and tweak it if you need to (don’t spend too long on it though).
2. Get the Exec team speaking to your customers Using what you learned from Step 1, ask your senior Exec to speak with some of your customers – it doesn’t matter how many or at what seniority level, but encourage them to find people who have recently had a reason to interact with you in some way. It could be buying new products or trying to seek help or support – it doesn’t matter – the important thing is to let them talk about how your business performed and whether their experience matches what you documented in your strategy. If this is a new concept for your teams and you need some help on topics, try these:
a. Does the customer feel that you have been trying to help them? And how?
b. If you could have done one thing better what would it have been?
c. Has your customer had something really work for them (even if it is with another business) that you can learn from?
3. Get Social If your company has a presence on social media – whether it be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube or LinkedIn, talk about what you are doing – and express that you want to learn – be honest, open, and share your experiences – the more stories you hear and share the better.
4. Chat to your team Ask your team members to talk to you about their interactions with customers – for example were any of the internal processes difficult to navigate, and how did that affect them and their customers? What could have been done better? Did anything exceed their expectations? Ask them too about your customer strategy – does it make sense? Is there anything missing?
5. Take Action Now that you have spoken to everyone you can, what do their responses tell you about how you performed in customer interactions and how your customers felt about it? Are there things you did really well that would be worth continuing to do as the business develops? Are there gaps in what you do that you could fill, or did the lockdown highlight anything you no longer need to do, or could actually stop doing? Keep this action plan simple – you only need maybe two or three key actions, which are a clear promise to your customers – and tell everyone about them, your customers and your teams alike.
Repeat as often as you like, even if there isn’t a pandemic.