Another week, another glimpse into the uncertain. Many of us are working from home, managing remotely at the same time as managing our family’s needs and our own physical and emotional health.
We will get through this. And right now your customers are looking to you for exactly how they can get through this, too.
Your customer experience team is looking to you, also. Your leadership is required in new ways. Let’s talk about what they need now.
1. Clear guidance on what’s expected.
What is the most important thing right now? A lot of CX teams spend a lot of time making dashboards look great. Now is the time to prioritize what we get out of those dashboards.
Help your team members understand what they can do that is mission-critical right now.
Updating CX metrics IS important right now, as long as the leaders in your organization are using that data to act. Now is the time to highlight what leaders can do and expect in the future.
Trend lines from January to March might not be as telling as predictive trend lines from these last few weeks forward. Using the same information to carry on with “business as usual” is probably not as helpful as reacting to these last few weeks with an eye toward the future.
Information is power, but only if we use it as such.
2. Empowerment to do the right thing, and a clear definition of what that looks like in your organization.
Your CX teams and customer service agents are most likely working in a more isolated environment than in the past. They might not have the ability to lean over to their neighbor and ask “have you ever seen this type of issue? What did you do?”
They have to make decisions on their own and feel good about those choices.
But what we believe is “the right thing to do” may vary from one person to the next. Now is the time to set up guard rails for employees by clearly defining what is acceptable in today’s environment and what happens when we can’t deliver to customers as expected. Consider all the tools your team needs to provide a consistent customer experience, even in these inconsistent times.
To keep momentum, provide centralized resources with things like scripted talking points, when to offer discounts or extra benefits, what resources are available to customers today, etc. Then ask your teams to communicate what’s working and what’s not.
Empower everyone to feel they’re not only doing their best individually but also what’s best for your customers and your brand.
3. Communication, but within limits.
The spike in usage of video conferencing tools, collaborative work tools and yes, even the telephone for actual phone calls, is reflective of our workflow as we isolate, together.
But some workers need quiet time. They need to breathe a little more and have thinking time, too.
Overscheduling communication can lead to extra stress and a lack of time to decompress. Communication is critical right now, but consider ways that allow your team to check in and see the right information without constant video meetings. Just like in a physical office, meetings can dominate the calendar, leaving no space for any other work.
It’s time to ask: “what needs to be communicated, and does this really need to be a meeting?” I predict this will become even more critical as we continue into an era where even family visits and nights out with friends require a strong internet connection.
It’s easy to burn out on these types of events, so communicate but be aware.
4. Bite-sized reminders.
We’re all suffering a bit from anxiety brain. Stress adds another dimension to our mental capacity and well-being. Our brains tire more easily, and we simply don’t have the mental processing power when we are under stress.
To top it off, we’re all learning a constantly changing new set of rules. Our workflow is different. Our family lives are different. Our daily lives don’t have the same routines, so we’re relearning what works and adjusting to a new reality every 24 hours.
Provide direction by giving gentle, positive, proactive reminders for what’s expected. Sending emails of 10 bullets might be too much right now. What’s MOST important? That might be the way we need to communicate now.
Don’t forget reminders for optimism, self-care and compassion for all. Those matter more than ever right now. Let your team see these things matter to you.
5. Education and the time to learn.
One way to encourage empowerment AND happiness is to encourage learning. This can take the form of additional training provided by your company, or the many online learning options available today.
Don’t ask your people to learn exclusively on their own time. Encourage the space by blocking out time for them or asking them to dedicate a certain amount of time each month to learning.
Individual learning can also turn into an opportunity for social sharing. Creating cohorts going through the same digital course, for example, can provide camaraderie and accountability around learning goals. You can also do this in the form of book clubs or asking each learner to present to the team on a rotating basis.
Leaders often assign learning and then step out of the process with their team. The best leaders are lifelong learners, so show your team how you’re participating, too.
Recapping what your CX team needs right now:
- Clear guidance on what’s expected. Help your team members understand what they can do that is mission-critical right now.
- Empowerment to do the right thing, and a clear definition of what that looks like in your organization. Provide centralized resources for your team, then ask for feedback to improve those resources over time.
- Communication, but within limits. Communication is critical right now, but overscheduling can lead to extra stress and a lack of time to decompress.
- Bite-sized reminders. Provide direction by giving gentle, positive, proactive reminders for what’s expected. Don’t forget reminders for optimism, self-care and compassion for all.
- Education and the time to learn. Don’t ask your people to learn exclusively on their own time. Encourage the space by blocking out time for them or asking them to dedicate a certain amount of time each month to learning.
Let’s face it, there is no rule book for the time in history we are living. We’re doing our best and our teams are doing their best, too. Let’s give them what they need to serve our companies in the best ways, along with our customers.
Hang in there and carry on. Service matters more than ever before. Thank you for what you’re doing.