The 2020 pandemic and the multiple bank failures of this year have taught business leaders the importance of having a solid customer service strategy in place to establish a resilient business. According to the IMF World Economic Outlook report, advanced economies will continue to see a pronounced economic growth slowdown moving forward in 2023. Along with this, the U.S. real GDP growth sitting at 0.7% and rising only 0.1% in the next year.
Whether you are a startup or Fortune 500 entrepreneur, having an effective customer service strategy in place is essential. It establishes a resilient business that can adapt to expected and unexpected economic changes. Economic perseverance comes from the right financial planning and leadership decision-making. Yet, it’s also the relationships you create with your devoted customers that truly make the greatest impact on business outcomes.
Not only is building economic resilience critical for lasting success, but it is key to pay special attention to how your company can specifically improve your customer service efforts and effectively build a more financially sound business. Prioritizing customer service allows companies to not simply consider their bottom line. But also, it allows them not lose sight of the people that support business growth and longevity through the purchase of goods and services.
This article outlines some of the important strategies businesses can use to enhance customer service in times of economic change. These will improve customer relationships, enhance brand reputation, and become stronger in the face of adversity in a volatile economy.
1. Reexamine the Customer Experience
With customer service, business leaders and marketers know that the experience is more than the product or service they purchase. To drive cash flow and revenue, customer demands and behaviors must be accurately predicted. This is especially true during economically turbulent times when a customer’s brand loyalty is tested. Plus, it has the greatest impact on the business’s long-term profitability.
In turn, there must be an exceptional dedication to the customer experience. It ensures the company is acclimating to meet customer needs, while still maintaining brand consistency and growth. To gather critical insights into the customer experience, leaders should frequently be looking to renew and refine the customer journey at every stage using data trends, metrics, and analytics.
2. Invest in Training Programs for Employees
Before you can fully dedicate your business’ time and resources to your customers, your employees must have a solid understanding of their roles in the company, the company’s mission, and leadership expectations regarding customer service efforts. A survey by Gallup found that ineffective performance management strategies leave only 21% of employees feeling that they are prepared to deliver exceptional service and value to customers. Another study by Harvard Business Review notes that integrated coaching methods improve team performance by 12%, including great success rates with in-the-moment coaching.
Whether it is a new hire going through the onboarding process or a tenured employee, regular training offerings provide teams with the opportunity to hone their skills and the resources to reduce future risks. This means investing in employee training programs that prepare them to work well with any customer and in any situation.
3. Develop a Customer-Centric Culture
Once employees know their role within the company and their impact on customer care, it is time to lay the groundwork for developing a customer-centric culture. This can mean something different from one company to another. But, it should at a minimum include some key elements for long-term success. This means focusing on building stronger relationships with clients. This starts with strong communication that can result in effective problem-solving and customer satisfaction.
A customer-centered culture also means that you demonstrate your appreciation throughout the year. This can be with corporate events, written thank-you cards, and thoughtful gift-giving. According to PR Newswire last year, even throughout the social and economic challenges of the pandemic, more than 63% of companies agreed that corporate gift-giving improved customer retention rates and increased annual revenues. Many companies also choose to impress clientele with corporate gift baskets from gifting experts like Spoonful of Comfort which aim to deliver exceptional customer care with intentional, specialty packages.
4. Invest in Leadership Development
There will always be the need to consistently re-approach and revitalize workforce strategies. They streamline management operations, improve internal/external communications, and enhance the customer experience. Tactical leadership efforts drive an organization’s short-term plans and strategies. They leave room for direct decision-making for each situation and reaching long-term efforts.
Research by Gallup tells us that companies that invest in leadership development are more effective at evaluating organizational team needs and managing emerging challenges. To accomplish this core leadership values and strengths must be directed to guide effective decision-making.
5. Streamline Customer Interactions with Technology
No matter the size of the business, it’s becoming inevitable for technology to somehow integrate itself into company operations and customer interactions. Companies must implement CRM software and other technologies that customers can easily and efficiently navigate. As a result, digitized customer journeys can help build customer loyalty in the middle of a crisis.
Business leaders that focus on improving customer service by building stronger customer relationships have a greater chance of enhancing brand recognition and reputation. More importantly, when times of adversity in a challenging economic environment arise, businesses are more likely to persevere with great resilience when their customer service is shatterproof.