Beware the Lost Customer
By Dale Lawrence
Operational leaders, over the past five months of COVID-19, have mostly focused on managing costs, making decisions on difficult layoffs and furloughs while trying to convince their customers to purchase goods and services. This has been a balancing act, but the customer likely has taken a back seat to the other operational needs. In a number of areas, the customer’s experience has been forgotten.
Some overall thoughts:
• Business customers are also living through the same challenges. They are watching their spending, managing their costs and asking their own customers to buy. This is what happens in the interconnected business world. Likely your suppliers are asking your business to purchase from them.
• At the end of the journey are the end-user consumers (who are also suffering from low confidence). Recent consumer tracking has shown many consumers have decreased purchasing and focusing on reducing debt.
• Likely the hardest hit area of the company are the people involved in customer service. Not only are they under the same social isolation and safety concerns, but they also are tasked with keeping customers happy during a difficult time.
• In March, Tethr (associated with HBR) performed a huge analysis across twenty companies with one million customer-service calls. They found that the number of calls that were classified as ‘difficult’ had doubled over normal times. Traditionally, challenging customer interactions have shown to result in lower up selling.
• As business has been disrupted, increased customer effort likely follows (a lagging indicator). We know that increased customer effort usually decreases customer loyalty.
• While overall customer satisfaction is tracking to similar rates as the last few years (according to ACSI), this is likely not showing the upcoming impact. Businesses must focus on the customer journey before feeling the true effect from the pandemic’s disruption.
What can be done?
• Immediately walk the customer journey
o Start with the customer’s need
o Determine how customer channels have faired
o Have the customer requests followed the same path or have you seen increases in specific channels (in effect, most companies likely have seen a massive increase in call centers and less requests in face-to-face channels)?
o Look for delay points… are they the same?
o What improvement projects were in-flight prior to COVID-19?
o Ask your customer-facing employees what they are hearing and observing
o Determine changes to customer feedback
• Determine what has changed from how your products and services were delivered and supported prior to COVID-19.
o Did the organization have supply chain issues? Resolved? Customers impacted?
o Investigate any legacy customer issues that may have fallen through the cracks
At Propulo Consulting, we partner with you to improve the world of work. We recognize both the importance of you as our customer and your customer. You need to be successful for us to be successful. Our team has the expertise to help your customer experience and ensure the organization is aligned to your customer’s expectations. Please contact us for the latest insights and research into flexible work.