In 2020 an average business saw an increase in calls marked as ‘difficult’ by more than 100%. All due to COVID-19. The strain on the support teams became too much to handle and the quality of service decreased. This is a perfect example of what happens to a business in a crisis.
89% of customers are ready to turn to a competition after just one instance of bad service. This prompts businesses and support companies to think — how to provide the best customer service in a crisis without putting too much strain on the teams?
There are three stages of customer service crisis management: before, during and after the crisis.
In this article, we'll cover:
1. Before the Crisis
🚵 Prepare a Crisis Management Roadmap
Preparing for a crisis situation is a run-of-the-mill task for any business. There are several obligatory points a business should consider:
1. Server capacity — will the server be able to withstand the pressure when the inflow of customer requests starts? Often servers fail because of overwhelming traffic and there is not enough capacity to deal with it. Calculate the server’s capacity and make sure it can withstand any customer inflow. It is a priority.
2. The number of people on the support team — will the support team be capable to manage a big communication inflow? Will it be able to scale fast? Could the newcomers delay the delivery of service? Answering these questions will help a business assess the support team’s capabilities and a necessary size.
3. The necessary hard- and software — to be at their best, customer support professionals need: omnichannel CRM system to manage customers’ inquiries seamlessly, fast and up-to-date hardware that can handle the load, assessment of all necessary systems and accounts and so on.
Roadmap is to be prepared in case of a crisis and is to be strictly followed when it comes.
🤝 Fully Prepare a Team
1. Streamline communication — encouragement along with the possibility to talk about anything with the management boosts the team’s productivity by 22%. Setting up a communication line between every support consultant will directly influence customer communication.
Make sure everyone speaks the same language by compiling a company glossary, establishing a book club and encouraging out-of-the-office meetups. This will make a big difference for in-team communication and will influence productivity and efficiency.
Making sure the team knows the product by heart will help them provide customers with necessary information on the spot. This will elevate customer satisfaction as 45% of customers abandon online transactions if their questions are not addressed quickly.
3. Detect and deal with burnout — 76% of professionals in customer support experience burnout due to the immense pressure, constant multitasking and emotional exhaustion. Burnout professionals cannot provide the best service in regular conditions, let alone during a crisis.
4. Communicate with the team — implementing daily meetings and free-to-talk spaces like virtual cafés could become an essential part of customer service crisis management. Crisis is a good time to conduct team building and develop a sense of shoulder in every team member. This way everyone involved in the process feels they can rely on those working with them.
Conduct talks, prevent burnout and make sure everyone is free to talk when they feel like it.
The team is a business’ greatest asset during a crisis. Fully prepare it for any crisis and provide them with everything to ensure customer success.
📃 Gather All Necessary Information
55% of customers will commit to a brand if it gives them the ability to find product- and services-related information with ease. In a crisis it can also be of great help to the support team, as they will have everything they need in one place.
Compile a list of the most frequently-asked questions and the most common issues. Make sure your team knows how to answer and explain them even to the most difficult and disgruntled customer.
2. During the Crisis
When an unexpected or unpredictable crisis hits, there are 5 major steps a support provider can take to ease the situation for both: the customer and the team.
🧐 Focus on Providing Your Services on the Same Level
There are certain benchmarks, according to which the customers judge the services:
- The speed of responses — marked important by 89% of customers;
- The speed of resolution — marked important by 89% of customers;
- The level of politeness and empathy in a conversation — marked important by 82% of customers;
- The possibility to talk to a live support agent – marked important by 30% of customers.
Increase the number of professionals on your team, set up an incentive system, ensure a proper amount of down-time for everyone on the team and these KPIs will not sink even in the most strained situation.
🕛 Make Your Team 24/7 Reachable
Customer service crisis management strategy should 100% include shifting the team to 24/7 support. It might bring too much strain on the existing professionals. That is why so many businesses opt for outsourcing in the time of need. An experienced support vendor can set up 24/7 services and fully take over customer service and support from you or become a great after-hours addition to your team.
In this case outsourcing will do both: improve customer service during a crisis and provide additional help to your team.
🤖 Implement AI to Speed Up Resolution Process
86% percent of customers prefer talking to a live human support consultant rather than to an AI-powered chatbot. Certain AI elements can help manage customer service in a crisis situation though:
- Gathering information about the customers;
- Helping compile the knowledge base;
- Compose parts of the dialogue based on the previous interactions with the customer.
To put a long and innovative story short — AI can help provide the best customer service especially during the crisis situation.
🔍 Make Information Intuitively Accessible
Compiling the entire scope of the information is one thing. Making sure your customers and your support team can easily find it when they most need it is another. Do not hide the information. Your customers should not have to “work for it”. The more locks you hide the information behind, the more likely your customers are to jump ship.
3. After the Crisis
After the end, there are several things that need to be done:
🏆 Assess the Team’s Performance
Make sure to commend those who showed outstanding performance and note their crisis management skills for the future. Be open about mistakes, but be soft in your feedback not to discourage a team.
Provide constructive feedback only.
Let the team speak as well. They will have the insight on what could be improved in your crisis management customer service strategy and how the customer satisfaction could be elevated to new heights.
🔗 Fix All Bottlenecks
Fix all weak spots your team has pointed out, or you have noticed along the way. Improve whatever might need improvement:
- Tools quality;
- Level of AI-involvement in the process;
- Feedback process.
Use this time to see bottlenecks and eliminate them to prevent their influence in the future.
🛌 Let the Team Rest
After having to deal with a big load of frustrated customers, it is natural for the support representatives to get tired. Let the team rest.
This is another instance where an outsourced partner could come in handy. They could take over when your in-house team takes a pause without your customers ever noticing it.
Correctly managing customer service during a crisis will cement any vendor’s image as caring and professional. The main point is to be prepared and remain calm no matter what is thrown at the world.
If you want to ensure the best customer service in a crisis situation, fill out the form and our team will contact you shortly!