By Heather Caudill, senior vice president of relationship management, AvidXchange
In today’s business environment, customer relationship management is about reassuring customer confidence in a business’s ability to meet them where they are, and it begins with setting employees up for success. Now that businesses have navigated the shift to a remote workforce, a new challenge arises—managing a hybrid workforce. Some people are returning to the office while others continue to work from home, and many companies are taking this this time to shore up processes, make improvements, and rebuild.
CRM teams have faced many challenges in 2020. While navigating customer expectations through potential operational disruptions, leaders have also been tasked with ensuring the needs of their employees are met to execute their day-to-day roles successfully. For customer-facing employees, their success directly impacts the customer experience.
To better meet the needs of customers, companies must work with employees to understand the significance of communicating with key audiences both internal and external, prioritizing customer advocacy while delivering a great customer experience that scales.
Communicating with Clarity and Transparency
Many businesses are now operating with a hybrid workforce with employees both in the office and remote. While balancing both in-person and remote interactions, clear communication with the two most important stakeholders involved—customers and employees—remains critical. During times of uncertainty, customers often turn to companies for resources to maintain and sustain their businesses, and employees turn to employers for guidance. Now is when companies can show their commitment to supporting customers and customer-facing teams by responding quickly with empathy and accuracy.
Keep in mind, the needs of both customer-facing teams and customers are very different than they were roughly six months ago or pre-COVID. Accuracy and timing for communications remains more important than ever. It is also important to be proactive, keeping dialogue transparent, accurate and consistent.
So what’s the best way for organizations to drive these types of communications? Creating a centralized communications team that can move quickly in evolving situations and share information in real time when a customer’s experience could potentially be disrupted helps to build trust and confidence between the company and the customer. The same rings true internally in ensuring employees receive up-to-date information on any changes that could potentially affect the way they work.
As appropriate, businesses should keep customers apprised of changes taking place within the business to build a sense of comfort and loyalty, showing that the organization wants the customer to know they are top of mind. From offering faster implementation times for a product or service to increasing online resources access or extending customer care hours, the way businesses proactively communicate and actively work to meet customers where they are will always be key for customer relationship management.
Advocating for Customers in Today’s Business Environment
In today’s digital world, how businesses advocate for clients has changed. Customer interactions that once took place in person might now take place virtually or a combination of both. Despite the shift, advocacy is still of utmost importance to both retaining and attracting clients. It begins with ensuring a customer-first mind-set is maintained internally, even across a dispersed workforce. Leaning on technology to ensure that open communication continues no matter a customer’s location is crucial.
Customers are the reason businesses stay in motion. The business provides a solution that alleviates a customer’s pain point, and the customer continues to utilize that good or service—as long as it meets their needs. For this cycle to continue, customer advocacy and input must be intrinsic to the organization to keep the product and results it delivers up to par. It’s critical for a business to take in that feedback, adapt, and then be able to provide the right experience.
To help keep up with shifting expectations in today’s environment, companies should create customer advisory boards that meet on a regular basis to discuss what they are experiencing and hearing in the marketplace. This establishes a trusting environment for a diverse group of organizations to deliver candid feedback and put a face to the customer.
Now more than ever, businesses need to balance a growth mind-set with a retention mind-set by focusing on customer advocacy. Listening to and taking care of existing customers and their needs is just as important as going after prospects during times of uncertainty.
Delivering Great Customer Experience that Scales
With more businesses automating processes and operating more efficiently than ever, the expectation from customers to receive what they need, exactly when and where they need it, has also grown exponentially. Whether customer-facing teams are continuing to work remotely, returning to the office, or a combination of both, technology tools are enabling teams to continue to deliver the high-quality experience customers expect regardless of where they operate.
While the onset of COVID-19 caused many customer-facing teams to reevaluate their business continuity processes, it also brought to light how technology can help businesses work smarter rather than harder. So as businesses begin to explore technology as a means to grow, service providers need to be prepared to pivot to meet the expectations that accompany an influx of new customers.
For example, finance departments are turning to technology to fill newly identified operational gaps. By automating manual, paper-based processes, finance departments are reallocating time and resources to focus on more strategic tasks. Businesses must apply the same type of thinking to how they can better deliver on the needs and desires of their customers. What new ways of thinking or working can be implemented to give better customer care? Great customer experience is the difference in a happy patron and a loyal advocate, a distinction that impacts customer satisfaction, reduces turnover, and increases revenue.
Moving Forward with Authenticity
It’s important to remember what is lost when operating in a remote work environment. From impromptu interactions with employees to in-person conversations with customers, now is the time for businesses to show their true value by being flexible to the ever-changing needs of their customers, providing the resources they need when and where they need them, and doing so with authenticity and empathy.
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