Customer Experience News & Trends

How to help customers in a crisis

In a crisis, customers are on edge more than ever. It’s even harder to keep them satisfied. But these tips will help. 

Many service teams get swamped with angst-filled customers in emergencies and troubling times. And while no one has ever experienced a crisis on the scale of COVID-19, one thing about it is consistent with normal times: Customer experience professionals have and always will need to help customers thorough crises.

Customers need extra help when they face unexpected troubles and uncertainty such as natural disasters, business and financial setbacks, health and personal crisis and product or service failures.

Those are critical times for customer experience professionals to step up, take control, be the calm in the storm and keep customers satisfied.

These four tactics can help:

Get out there

In an emergency, customers will tap as many channels as they can to be in touch with you. The first step in a crisis is to remind customers how to get in touch. Even better, let them know the most reliable routes, best times and accurate resources for the different kinds of inquiries they’ll likely have.

You’ll want to post on your social media outlets, send email and SMS messages, and add pop-ups to your website (or even change landing and home page content). Include the details on each channel for how to reach all of the customer service channels.

Then explain which channel is best for customers to access based on their need. For instance, if they have technical issues, they need to get on live chat with IT. Or if they have coverage issues, they can text service agents. If they need to reschedule, they can do it through an online portal. Or, if they’re having an emergency, they should call a number where a service pro will pick up.

Focus on ‘the bleed’

In a crisis, customers need to “stop the bleed.” There’s often one issue that must be shored up before they can even think about managing the crisis and moving beyond.

When they contact you – often in panic – ask questions to help them fetter out the biggest issue. It’s the one that, if resolved, will have some effect on almost everything else that’s wrong. You might ask questions such as:

  • How many employees/customers/community members are affected by X?
  • What has the biggest effect on your finances right now?
  • What is draining your employees/customers most?
  • Would you say A, B or C is the most dangerous factor in this situation?
  • Can you identify the most important aspect we need to resolve right now?

Make them feel safer

Customer experience professionals are in the unique position of having seen and solved many high-stakes situations.

When appropriate, tell customers you’ve worked on something like this crisis or you’ve helped other customers through similar situations.

Be honest about complications you foresee, but don’t deliver just gloom and doom. Remain a beacon of hope by sharing a short story of triumph, too.

Give as much relevant information as possible without overwhelming them or taking too much time (everyone is short on time in a crisis). Then offer a few perspectives based on your experience and the information you’ve given. When possible, give two options on a solution to stop the bleed.

Add value

In some crisis situations, there is no immediate solution. Customers – and you – will have to wait it out. Listening to their woes helps.

But when you can’t solve the situation, help them weather the storm with added value. Send them links to helpful information – on anything that will lead them to other forms of help such as government assistance or community groups. Give them access to normally gated information that can help them do their jobs or live better.

You might even send them links to self-care articles or videos to help them mentally navigate professional and personal crises.

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