There’s nothing quite like a global pandemic to test the strength and resilience of a brand’s customer experience (CX).
For those brands that have already invested in CX for years and have a loyal customer following to show for it, this crisis may only represent a slight shift in their strategy and execution. But for those who have proven to be laggards when it comes to CX, this may represent a breaking point for their business as customers are likely to remember the brands that were ‘there for them’ during this difficult time period.
Customer experience is defined by your customers’ perception of how your company treats them. These perceptions affect their behaviors and build memories and feelings to drive their loyalty. In B2B marketing, we often talk about our customers as leads, buyers, or personas but the fact is that our customers are the same people who are panic-buying hand sanitizer and distilled water. They are human and they are likely very concerned right now, facing the imminent spread of COVID-19.
As COVID-19 rapidly descends upon Europe and the United States, B2B brands are struggling to maintain positive and safe employee experiences as well as customer experiences. And business as usual simply can not be the answer. Customer experience today may be based largely in digital technology and artificial intelligence, but that shouldn’t stop brands from focusing on the humans behind it. Below are five opportunities for B2B brands to shift their CX and connect humanely with PEOPLE–not just customers, buyers etc.–during these troubling times:
Communication is always a critical aspect of customer experience but now, more than ever, businesses need to be proactive and transparent. For B2B brands, COVID-19 has already had significant impacts on CX as thousands of in-person events and meetings have been canceled. Brands that previously relied on these interactions as key aspects of their CX are now shifting to virtual events and video conferences. There is no reason for customer satisfaction to be negatively impacted IF brands are transparent and communicate openly and frequently as decisions are made.
Brands often shy away from admitting weakness as they want to be viewed by their customers as invincible, unshakable, and unable to be brought down. However, in light of the depth and breadth of what we are facing in the world today, it is time for brands to be honest and transparent in that they too are facing new challenges every day as things continue to evolve with COVID-19 and are doing their best to rise to them.
B2B brands should not hide from their customers. Take advantage of online communities–either your own or a known watering hole for your audience and start engaging directly with them. If your business is facing challenges now or near-term, trust your customers enough to communicate directly with them. Perhaps even ask them for their problem-solving ideas or solutions- could be a win/win for all involved.
Most B2B brands today have a Content Team, tasked with the mission of serving up a steady stream of fresh, relevant blogs, podcasts, and videos via digital channels. This is the time to PAUSE and shift gears. What type of content would be helpful to the people in your audience? Even if their day job is in IT or Procurement, they may be distracted right now with concern for their children or elderly family members. Is there a way that your business can help these professionals to feel safer? Or more educated on a particular topic? Dig deep with your audience and the simple mission of “Be helpful” in mind.
Be a problem-solver.
Every successful brand in the marketplace at its core is based upon solving a problem. Realize that the Pandemic has brought on a whole crop of new problems for the world–challenges faced by people who may now need to work from home, shop without leaving the house, homeschool their children and so on. Can your brand make their lives a little easier?
Every touchpoint in every channel in your brand’s customer experience is an opportunity to connect with a person. Technology is simply an enabler, a platform for the brand to deliver a meaningful experience to them. The brands who successfully deliver on the above opportunities–those who are open, helpful, and–will be remembered and will undoubtedly see a lasting increase in customer loyalty and satisfaction.
For tangible tips on building a brand that can withstand the effects of crises like the COVID-19 pandemic, check out our latest Revenue Rebels podcast featuring crisis-readiness expert, Melissa Agnes: How to Build an Invincible Brand.
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