First off, let’s just say there are no “best practices” for dealing with a crisis. While we all adapt to the new normal, here are a few quick tips to help you efficiently communicate with your customers and aid your customer service department should they be overwhelmed.
Don’t send communication, unless there has been a significant change in your operations
The key here is to avoid “virtue signaling,” or expressing your brand’s values without delivering actionable information customers.
Gartner’s marketing blog had a great post about this amidst the COVID-19 fallout.
To sum it up, a COVID-19-themed marketing email campaign that delivers value to your customers must answer “yes” to the four questions:
- Am I telling customers something different from other brands? Are we doing something that clearly differentiates us from our competition?
- Am I telling customers something they don’t already expect of my company or brand?
- Can the customer identify “What’s in it for me (WIIFM)?” in the subject line and opening paragraph?
- And, most importantly, is the WIIFM tailored to your customer’s needs as they directly relate to the COVID-19 crisis?
The global pandemic may or may not have a significant impact on your business. It is okay to carefully and appropriately promote your brand and its products or services if they provide customers with a clear solution to deal with the health, economic, and emotional issues they are experiencing. However, leveraging the crisis as a marketing opportunity risks both reputation and relationship damage.
Publish answers to your most common questions on your website and communicate wait times
If you are experiencing an overflow of support cases, provide customers with an easy self-service option that can significantly reduce the caseload. Leverage your CRM data to publish the answers to the most common questions on a dedicated crisis response landing page.
Kayak has a great support page that can be viewed here.
With a high case volume, communicating expected wait times to customers will be critical. Setting expectations with customers early on can help ease frustration, and it will reduce the number of duplicate tickets received.
Note this web banner posted on the British Airways support page. The messaging is concise and explains exactly when a customer should call or message the airline.
Implement a single channel support solution
Operating a smooth omnichannel experience can be a challenge, especially in a crisis. Instead of spreading your support team thin, consolidate all requests via a single channel.
A dedicated landing page is the best option. Be sure to keep the URL simple (i.e. example.com/coronavirus), and share this link across all your platforms. Collect as much information as possible, and leverage process automation to route cases to the correct queue.
A simple auto-responder email can alert customers that their case has been received, and in most cases, the use of dynamic content can communicate an estimated wait time depending on the queue they are assigned to.
Whenever a crisis hits, be mindful of virtue signaling. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t be reactive to the situation, but a reminder to ensure your communication is providing value to customers and addresses their needs as they relate to the crisis at hand.
For businesses where the client services team is overwhelmed, try to limit the number of support cases being created by building a self-service web page answering common questions. An automated web form will help limit support efforts to a single channel and improve efficiency. Finally, if you have cases built up, let your customers know – they will understand.