Don't let Covid-19 be an excuse for poor service
Watching how companies and leaders have reacted to the Covid-19 Crisis has been an eye-opening exercise and will be used in years to come to showcase many key factors in how to lead and how to operate a business successfully. Whether a business has navigated this period well or not; with reflection, everyone will have 'lessons learned', some harsher than others.
One compelling area that has certainly separated the good from the great has been how businesses have engaged and treated their customers. There are some brilliant examples and there have certainly been some bad ones. It has long been highlighted that the cost to acquire a new customer is around 5x more expensive than retaining a customer. This statistic may hold some truth but it subconsciously directs leaders down a path of stagnation. Without doubt take care of those that have spent with you before, experienced your service before and are loyal but never take your eye off of new customer growth. There is a fine balance and those businesses that embraced that are the ones that have grown in this period. They may not have grown financially, depending on their sector, but growth in followers, users, and customers is a win that will reap rewards in the coming months.
There are so many decisions for leaders to be thinking about that it is understandable that something has to give but make sure that there is a focus on your customers, both current and new, otherwise they will be lost forever and your recovery will be impossible. Some businesses were forced to close and have reopened, some businesses have yet to reopen and some never closed but that is no excuse to stop engaging with your customers and make it count.
As much as this period can help forge a stronger bond with your customers, if handled badly it can lose you your current customers. It's a time to be honest, transparent and true to what you are doing and how you will return. Unfortunately, some businesses have let this Crisis be an excuse for poor service such as:
Higher Volume of Calls - that message when calling contact centres isn't the truth. The truth is that the company have decided to furlough many of their employees and so there are less people answering the phones. Be honest with your customers.
Low Staff running a business - some restaurants have reopened and with the support of government initiatives (in the UK) have great business coming in. Don't ruin that by having a single employee trying to run your restaurant. Bring your employees back and give them the hours they need.
Lack of decision making - customers know that many employees are working from home, remote working or otherwise so it's understandable that decisions may be slower but it shouldn't be an excuse to not make a decision or at least communicate on that decision with your customer or client.
Lack of standards - undoubtedly the added restrictions of contact and hygiene have made operations more challenging in customer-facing businesses but don't let these physical barriers become experience barriers to your customers. Having queue-posts, closed doors and one-way systems is confusing. Walk in your customer's shoes before opening, if it's confusing then fix it, don't just assume that if it seems ok to you that it will seem ok to anyone.
This is a time to grow your customers, think differently and use the lessons we've all learned to engage in new and innovative ways.