Industry

The Impact of Coronavirus on Customer Service

Coronavirus has now been declared a pandemic by the WHO and, as it continues to spread, more and more countries tighten their domestic and travel policies. Some European countries, such as Italy — and most recently Denmark — have gone into full lockdown.

More remote working

Companies are systematically taking measures to combat the spread of the virus, such as adjusting working hours so they don’t coincide with rush hours.

The most common trend however is that companies are either proactively or reactively taking measures to implement full time remote working for employees.

We’ve noticed that Customer Service managers adjusting to this change are concerned about losing control of operations, or simply scratching their heads as to how to keep their teams unified long term. We have no idea how long this will last.

Keeping the dynamic with virtual meetings

It’s not impossible to keep a team dynamic in Customer Service even when everyone is working remotely. In fact, some companies do it very successfully. One way to do it is to set up regular, formal meetings to give a real rhythm to the working week.

One way could be to implement an all hands kick-off meeting led by the Customer Service manager to communicate the goals of the week.

As well as the quantitative and qualitative objectives usually monitored by team leads, consider implementing incentives and gamification to strengthen bonds. Giving teams the opportunity to work towards a common goal will help bring them together, despite being apart — and the incentive of prizes would contribute to a stronger team dynamic.

(Video) chat solutions, such as Slack or Skype, will help managers considerably. By reminding each team of their objectives throughout the week, and briefing them on where they stand, he or she can really drive operations.

A wrap-up session to end the week, conveying achievements and challenges will give managers extra control. It also gives individual team members the chance to share their own experiences.

Since no one knows how long this remote activity could last, set up ‘fun’ challenges and to switch up the teams from one week to the next — so that everyone speaks to new people every week.

Virtual meeting

Keeping control of what your teams are doing

It can be really daunting for managers of Customer Service teams with dozens (or hundreds) of agents that suddenly make the switch to remote working — they need to make sure that their teams are functioning, and functioning well.

Analytical solutions can be implemented in no time to help you monitor your teams and help guide them, even remotely.

Some offer ready-to-use solutions that enable any customer service manager to run analysis on their operations like a data expert. These dashboards will allow you to dig into productivity and performance on all levels (type of tickets, periods of time, focusing on individual teams or agents…) to see how your teams are doing and flagging any issues at an early stage.

It’s pretty easy to do Quality Assurance remotely too. A few solutions are actually purpose-built to benchmark agents, teams and outsourcers, so it’s ready to accompany you through this shift to remote working. Advanced, qualitative analysis will help you ensure a universally high quality of work across all teams, remote or not.

Unprecedented activity spikes

Whilst lots of companies are suffering from reduced demand, others are experiencing an unprecedented spike in activity — especially in the travel, tourism and leisure industries. We’ve identified 3 main reasons, specific to these industries, why customers are reaching out to the Customer Service:

  • People going ahead with their plans but are concerned about the measures being taken to make their experience as safe as possible.

  • Those enquiring about cancellation policies before cancelling their bookings

  • People wanting to cancel their bookings through Customer Service.

Assess the impact

To cope and adjust your operations accordingly, the first step is to run quantitative and qualitative analyses of Coronavirus’ impact on your Customer Service.

Advanced analytical software will help you sort this out in a few minutes. By tracking how much — and in what context — “coronavirus” or “Covid-19” is mentioned, your company will be able to: - Identify most frequently asked questions and proactively provide answers in other channels (help centers, FAQs, chat…)

- Create templates to boost agents’ productivity when dealing with this sensitive topic.

- Anticipate temporary hirings to manage high volumes

Inconsistencies with responses to customers

All companies have terms of sale and terms of use that give guidelines to Customer Service mould their answers and behaviour. However, in such a unique situation, companies are making exceptions. Some are being more generous to prioritize the customer satisfaction, others tightening them to mitigate the economic impact on their business.

These adjustments are rarely implemented as smoothly in practice as they are in theory. A lack of communication, clarity or universal adoption, leads to an inconsistent customer experience. This is particularly true for airlines, for example, who have the impossible decision of deciding whether or not to reimburse their customers for booked flights.

As a result, odd interactions come about — it even happened to us at Miuros. Once we heard that Zendesk Relate had been cancelled, we went to cancel our flights like many others. For some reason, one of our tickets was partially reimbursed, but the other one wasn’t eligible… It can leave customers confused like we were, and we don’t want that to happen to you too!

Remember…

  • Customer Service needs to commit to providing consistent answers to customers.

  • The rapid spread of Coronavirus has a quantitative and qualitative impact on Customer Service activities.

  • It is highly important for those managing Customer Service departments to get organized and adapt their operations to this developing situation.

We hope you all keep safe at this time and our hearts go out to those seriously affected.

Turn your customer service data into better customer experiences