Avoiding a Customer Experience Black Mark

When it comes to customer experience, brands are most often put to the test during a crisis.  Whether it’s a tech glitch like Samsung’s recent smart TV crash or issues with seat selection at JetBlue, every company has a bad day now and again.  Whether it’s a big issue or a relatively small one, support teams are often inundated with questions and requests and how they respond can mean the difference between a brand antagonist and a brand champion.  Today’s customer expects support issues to be resolved quickly and seamlessly — and not being able to deliver that experience can put the business at risk.

In thinking about crises specifically, two of the most important characteristics of a successful customer experience plan are transparency and access.  It’s important to be as transparent as possible about the issue, providing customers with enough information to feel informed and confident that the situation is being handled. What exactly happened? Who could be impacted? Is there anything customers should do now? Answering these types of questions helps to build and maintain trust for a brand and clarify unknowns for the customer. Brands also must ensure the right information is always accessible. Beyond just providing information on the state of a particular situation, the right access also creates the opportunity for a brand to more easily dispel rumors and provide accurate next steps for customers to guard themselves against an attack.

Here are a few strategies to help companies ensure transparency and accessibility through a crises:

Provide Immediate Access to Support
Today’s companies engage with customers through a variety of channels — live chat, social, SMS, etc.  It’s important that customers are able to get support via those channels.  A customer engages in a live chat session to get the answer they are looking for, not to be routed to phone, for example.  Sure, in some cases an escalation is required, but for the most part, basic support should be provided through all the engagement channels a brand offers.  And that support should be consistent across channels.  This is where investments in AI and virtual assistant technology can be useful.  By using bots you can offload many of the basic “what’s happening? And “when it will be fixed” questions easily while also offering customers fast, actionable responses.

Keep It Straightforward — No Fluff
In a time of crises (or really whenever a customer is looking for support), customers want straight answers — not a light back-and-forth discussion with a bot or agent. This doesn’t mean the interaction can’t be fluid and conversational, but getting rid of the unnecessary pleasantries can help reduce frustration, and ensure customers receive efficient and clear answers.  Instead of asking them how their day was, acknowledge that this is frustrating and offer specific, updated information about the status of the situation and when it should be resolved.

Mine Engagement Data to Better Serve Customers
An effective CX strategy shouldn’t just stop after the particular issue has been handled and the phone stops ringing. Collecting data on the successes and misfires from customer interactions provides the opportunity for brands to understand what roadblocks and frustrations were faced so they can be fixed, and also better understand their customers’ expectations continue to evolve.

While no brand can prepare for every potential customer crisis, they can implement a customer experience strategy designed to ease the anxiety for customers. Having the right combination of people, processes and technologies in place to handle customer crises will not only quell frustrations but may actually strengthen the customer’s’ relationship to the brand.   Everyone knows things happen, what counts is how you deal with it.

Ryan Lester
Director, Customer Engagement Technologies, LogMeIn