Post-Pandemic Customer Service Tips
What will customer interaction look like in a post-pandemic world? While the future is still uncertain and a true new normal could take months or years to come into focus, Laurie Guest, a customer service expert, author and keynote speaker, knows one thing for sure.
“Just like flying after 9/11, it’s highly unlikely our world and the way we interact with others will ever be the same. COVID-19 will be something that will impact our collective consciousness for generations to come,” she says.
Today, as vaccine rollouts pick up speed and restrictions across the country remain in flux, shop owners are left to navigate another wave of change that can make the waters even murkier when it comes to customer service.
“Whatever getting back to ‘business as usual’ means for you, seeing customers face-to-face again is likely to present a variety of situations,” Guest says. “Some customers will be enthusiastic while others may remain anxious and face new fears of protocols no longer in place. It’s important to remember this is still going to be a transitional period.”
To prepare for yet another pivot, Guest offered a few key tips.
Reset Your Service Rules
“As the world continues to make this big transition, it’s important to ask yourself ‘are there rules we had in place pre-pandemic that should now be challenged?’ What are the BC (before COVID) procedures we had in place that haven’t served your business?” Guest says.
While those pre-pandemic procedures and policies will differ business to business and shop to shop, chances are there are a few steps to your day to day shop flow that have fallen to the wayside over the last year. Guest recommends reconsidering whether those steps are worth reintroducing or if they should be brought into the fold in a new way.
Don’t Ditch the Updates
When the pandemic hit in full force, Guest notes that many businesses stepped up their communication to keep their customers in the loop on day to day changes, the experience customers could expect to see on-site, and much more.
“Don’t lose that. Even if those posts and emails and mailers felt like you were shouting into a void, you better believe customers appreciated them,” says Guest. “In a time where so much was uncertain, hearing how our local businesses were putting a plan in place or what steps they were taking day to day really helped connect customers to those businesses. We’re still facing uncertainty, and customers still want that transparency.”
Guest notes those regular customer updates could actually be more helpful as customers transition “back to normal” and the policies from business to business fluctuate even more.
Don’t Lose Your Humanity
Digital communications and automated services like recurring appointment reminders were popular long before the pandemic and have been much appreciated by customers hoping to avoid face-to-face interaction throughout the past year, but Guest reminds shop owners to infuse their personality into those digital interactions.
“The longer we interact with our customers through primarily digital channels, the more robotic that interaction can become and it’s not like your customers are going to reach out to you looking for that personal connection and to keep that relationship going. You’re going to have to make the first move,” she says.
Recreating a more human connection with your customers could be as simple as picking up the phone instead of sending a third round of automated emails, but Guest notes “those small steps can make a big difference in the long run.”