Businesses plan. They spend time crunching numbers, making projections, and setting goals. Three months into 2020 and those plans are of little use. No one could have predicted the COVID-19 pandemic. No organization was prepared for the ramifications to the world economy. Now that it is here, what should businesses do? Should they treat COVID-19 as short-term and look for temporary solutions? Perhaps, a long-term solution would be a better option? Maybe, companies should look at solutions that can move them farther along the digital transformation continuum.
Digital transformation always begins with the customer. It is the process of integrating digital technology into an enterprise to deliver value to customers. Many businesses focus on technology rather than the customer when creating a digital strategy. But, technology should be deployed to meet customers' expectations and enhance their experiences. The question is -- are those expectations and experiences the same given the current landscape?
Yes and no. Customer satisfaction is still key, but what satisfies consumers has shifted. They are looking for personalized customer service, expanded self-service, and increased thoughtfulness. Three areas in a customer's journey that require employee-enablement supported through technology.
Personalized Customer Service
When asked to name companies with exceptional customer service, people listed Airbnb, Trader Joe's, Starbucks, and a host of others. But only four organizations appeared repeatedly -- Amazon, Apple, Costco, and Nordstrom. Why? At their core, these organizations are focused on the customer's journey. They build customer satisfaction into their corporate DNA, and they empower their employees to deliver exceptional customer service.
Creating customer personas and mapping customer journeys give businesses insights into what their customers expect. How do you know what your customers are experiencing unless you travel the same path? Even if you have already mapped the journey, today's journey is not the same as January's. It's crucial to revisit the customers' experiences and identify where changes should be made. The less friction consumers experience, the more likely they are to become return customers. With the added stress of a pandemic, many customers may have less tolerance for points of friction.
People want answers and most of them are willing to do research to find them. That's great as long as a company has accessible information. Now would be an excellent time to set up a self-service portal or to review the information on an existing one. Much of the data has probably changed. Pick-up and delivery options are different. The availability of some items may be limited. Perhaps your business continuity plan required a change in location.
Studies have shown that 81% of consumers prefer to do online research before making a purchase or contacting a company. With most of the world under a stay-at-home order, there's plenty of time for online research. Personalized recommendations of other products and services make buyers feel that a company knows them. With so much uncertainty, people want to know they are being heard. A robust self-service site can go along way to making customers feel counted.
According to Forbes, organizations should consider the psychological foundations of connection. More companies are exploring the part emotion has on brand loyalty. Even though there are no metrics for feelings, customers with an emotional connection to a brand seem to be more loyal. They are more likely to become brand advocates and to become return buyers. In the current environment, making an emotional connection can go a long way toward strengthening relationships. What better way to connect than through thoughtful customer interactions?
Providing a thoughtful customer experience requires creating a thoughtful workforce. There's no better way to train employees to be thoughtful than to show them what thoughtfulness looks like. Making employees feel valued means giving them the tools they need to do their job to the best of their abilities. Letting employees see how their work impacts the relationship the brand has with the customer provides a sense of worth to daily operations. For a company to be one of the top four businesses when it comes to customer satisfaction, companies have to build the customer into their corporate DNA.
If organizations want thoughtful employees who connect with customers, they must be purposeful in creating a thoughtful work environment. They must remember that happy employees do make happy customers. According to the Harvard Business Review, every percentage increase in employee satisfaction increases a company's market value by almost 5%. Now is not the time to allow employee satisfaction to drop because of ineffective tools for remote workers. It's important to remember what makes for employee satisfaction.
Employees want to be efficient contributors. They want their work to have a purpose. When setting up a digital work environment, be sure to enable employees with the tools they need to get their job done. Make sure the infrastructure is in place to support remote staff.
- Communication.Communicating with employees is crucial in this COVID-19 world. More importantly, having a single source of truth for all information is vital. Changes seem to happen daily, and organizations need to establish secure channels to communicate with all employees. Miscommunication only adds to the stress of daily life.
- Collaboration. With employees working from home, impromptu meetings in the hall can't happen. That doesn't mean that needed collaboration doesn't happen. In fact, it may be the perfect time to work on a collaborative database of corporate knowledge. The inability to access required information is a contributor to employee dissatisfaction. A little over 80% of employees are frustrated because they can't access the needed information. On average, an employee can lose one week to one month waiting for information.
- Connection. It's hard to believe that all the changes in how the world does business have occurred in the last 30 days. While companies scramble to survive, it's important that they stay connected to their employees. Without a sense of connection, employees will disengage, lose focus, and become less productive. Corporations must be careful not to lose their most valuable assets.
Businesses need to enable employees to do their jobs from anywhere and from any device. No one knows how long a fully remote workforce will be required. That's why, it's vital to employee satisfaction that they are able to contribute, connect, collaborate and communicate
Where to Begin?
As difficult as it may be, organizations need to shut out the noise long enough to focus on customers and their changing expectations. Once the customer-centered focus is back, companies need to enable their employees to create crucial customer-brand relationships that will last beyond the immediate future. It is at this point that technology becomes important. Without technology, businesses would be unable to provide employees with the tools they need to deliver a satisfying customer experience.
If you are looking for guidance on how to enable a digital workforce, why not talk to us? We have been helping organizations around the world enable employees to deliver quality service from any device, from anywhere and at any time.