Whether it was digital or in-person, you probably remember the last time you contacted customer support to resolve an issue. You remember how long you waited or didn’t wait and whether the interaction made you feel that the company was “easy to do business with”. More than ever before, companies are faced with staffing the right number of people or launching the right technology to keep the customer happy and deliver on ever evolving needs. I have a good starting point for you; let’s look at the data.
Turning customer data into insights and action
It’s tough to be fully prepared when unpredictable events occur. Nobody predicted two months ago that a novel global pandemic would hit and some industries would literally shut down. Now there is an elevated sense of urgency to do something now. That’s okay, let’s move quickly with these steps:
- Analyze the data: The best way to do this is to do a year-over-year comparison of customer support volume data. For example, look at 2020 (year-to-date) and compare that to the previous three to five years. How has your volume shifted or changed when comparing to prior years?
- Design a plan: Depending on your 2020 trends, adjust your staffing and technology plans accordingly. If there is an increase in volume, ramp up your support or technology. If volume is lower, adjust staffing plans and workload to accommodate. Create a plan that ensures success for your employees and customers.
- Communicate with your customers: I can’t stress this enough. Show your customers that they are valued during times of change. Let them know that you hear them. And communicate the actions you are taking based on your business values and the customer needs.
Planning during times of change
Take the airline industry as an example. The global crisis hits and customer support volume spikes through the roof. There are not enough agents to handle the volume and the technology isn’t enabled (yet) for customers to self-serve. What should we do?
First, look at the data to analyze both support volume and call reason trends and compare to prior years. Data can tell us so many things. Is there a certain time of the day you see a huge spike in volume? Are customers contacting support for a specific reason? What channels are customers using most – phone, email, chat or self-service through the app or website? The data will be the foundation for the next step.
Now that we have analyzed the data, let’s create a plan. If customers are calling to cancel or reschedule service during a certain day/time interval, we can staff accordingly or use technology to help. Ramp-up during high times and scale back during low times. Leverage callback or other technology options. Waive certain fees. Create a plan that puts the customer first.
Since we have grounded ourselves in the data and formed a plan, communication to the customer is key. In times of change, let your values shine through. You have listened to their feedback and are creating plans to make their experience better. You care about them and their experience. There is no such thing as over-communicating during these times.
Unpredictable change creates quick and nimble action. It may feel like you’re putting customers and employees at risk. You may feel like you don’t have all of the answers right away so a solid foundation of facts will help.
Take some time now to get grounded in the data. Your customers and employees will thank you. And during times like these, a “thank you” goes a long way.