Protecting Your Brand During A Crisis

Crisis management is never a singular strategy. During times of adversity, such as the one we’re all experiencing with COVID-19, it takes an all-hands approach to manage the disruption to operations, revenue, and customer relations. 

COVID-19 has sent even the most battle-tested leaders reeling from unprecedented business disruption. Companies are having to simultaneously deal with the short-term effects of the pandemic, while preparing with what the future may hold. These are uncertain times for sure.

That’s why Quiq recently sponsored a report on the subject by Digital Commerce 360. “Coronavirus: Ecommerce Crisis Management for Today and Tomorrow” takes a look at how retailers, manufacturers, and wholesalers are responding to unprecedented challenges while taking advantage of new opportunities to increase online sales.

Protect Your Brand’s Perception

The 100+ page report presents data, insights, and usable best practices that all B2C and B2B companies can use now and going forward. Quiq’s VP of Brand, Jenne Meyer offers sound advice on how companies can foster a positive affinity to their brand, even in the midst of a crisis, in the article “Protect Your Brand With Digital Engagement”.

A few key takeaways from the article:

1. Make accessibility a priority. 

Provide your customers with the assurance that you’re there when they need you. Opening new channels like messaging, web chat, and social channels encourages your customers to contact you the  way they prefer and at their convenience.

2. Protect your customer’s experience. 

The shuttering of contact centers, either voluntarily or due to government mandates like those in the Philippines and India, was a hard lesson learned about scale and flexibility for customer service. While many companies scrambled to transition to a remote work model, customer inquiries skyrocketed, with customer wait times stretching across hours. Companies can protect their customers from the frustration of long wait times and delayed responses with the help of self-serve options like bots. 

3. Adjust your metrics.

During times of crisis, it’s imperative to reframe your metrics and to look far beyond the number of customers an agent helps within a certain time frame. Agents need to be empathetic and that may lengthen interaction times. Consider focusing more on customer satisfaction.

The article is just one example of how companies can use effective digital strategies to weather the coronavirus storm and prepare for whatever the future may hold.  Download the full report on the Quiq website. 

Reframe Challenges As Opportunities

Things are not business as usual. The long-term planning, with 1 and 5 year outlooks, have been displaced with 30, 60, and 90 day plans. Companies are having to pivot fast and frequently as the COVID-19 situation continues to unfold on a minute-by-minute basis.

With the transition to a remote workforce and a flood of customer communication, it’s tempting to hunker down and weather the storm with the tools you’re most familiar with. That’s exactly what not to do. 

Now is the time to re-evaluate your operations and discern which changes may simply be a temporary change to adapt to the circumstances and which changes reframe your operations completely .For example, since sending most of their workforce home, many companies, like the Mortgage Center, are starting to question if they need to lease as much space or if they can continue to have a portion of their workforce operate remotely. 

What was a short-term response to an emergency situation has sparked much needed discussion about what really moves the needle for customers. Consider how consumer engagement has drastically changed. Contact centers within companies such as Pella, Brinks Home Security, and Northwest Community Credit Union were forced to close physical locations, quickly switch to a remote model, and still provide quality customer care with limited resources.  By diverting phone calls to messaging, helping customers self-serve with the help of chat bots, and offering more messaging channels across text, web chat, and social media, these companies are able to take care of their customers in a more cost-effective and efficient way, while preserving their brand.

Have A Bias Toward Action

We are going through disruptive, turbulent times. Full stop. It’s important not to minimize or oversimplify that point. It’s also important not to become paralyzed by panic as we brace ourselves against what’s tried and true or familiar.

This post, and the report we encourage you to download, is meant to inspire you to take action now. Help your company thrive in the long-term by deploying technology that will save you time and money, now and in the future. Schedule some time today for a custom demo so we can discuss your brand, your challenges, and how Quiq can help.

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A Test of Mettle: Doing More With Less

Doing more with less is a challenge that many achieve with planned, incremental changes. Recent events have shown that the ability to plan is a luxury. They can be slow and expected or sudden and unprecedented, but shifts happen. The dramatic swings in demand and employees moving to a work-from-home model or being furloughed due to COVID-19, pushed leaders to adjust instantly. Many companies were forced to close their doors, adjust their hours, send employees home – all while striving to deliver the same, or higher level of service. 

For all of the changes and challenges we’ve been through lately, it appears we’re not in the clear yet. We’ve all heard the rumblings. An imminent global recession is on the horizon. Belts will have to tighten and efficiency will remain a topic of discussion. How leaders prepare and adapt will determine if a company not only survives, but flourishes in the long-term. 

Unlike COVID-19 which took everyone by surprise, we know of and can prepare for an impending recession. Even if you’ve been through a recession before, now is the time to take a look at your playbook with fresh eyes. Read on for three important moves leaders need to make now to prepare for the near future. 

Don’t Get Trapped By Old Habits

Habits, good or bad, have their place. They help us respond to, make sense of, and navigate life. It’s easy to lean on habits, but they can only do so much. In normal times, habit begs you to draw from your existing and known resources. In the face of large scale change, like a recession, that may not be possible.

For example, during normal operations, when demand spikes in a contact center, managers can respond by hiring more agents. In some contact centers, demand spikes as high as 200-400% were experienced. Amid the social distancing and office closures, many companies were forced to send employees home, while others unexpectedly lost their entire contact center because of mandated lockdowns in the Philippines and India. It was impossible to draw on more resources and to hire more employees to handle the tidal wave of customer requests that came pouring in. 

Instead of turning to “how things have always been done”, many companies decided to turn on digital channels to help manage the influx of inquiries from consumers. Adding web chat, messaging, and bots, not only provides consumers with their preferred channels, but also makes your organization much more productive with the use of business text messaging, chat bots, and rich messaging

Limited resources will continue to be a headwind businesses face in the coming months. Now is the time to look outside of habit. Don’t hire more agents to take more calls. Move the calls to messaging for a fraction of the cost. If you haven’t embraced automation and digital self-service yet, now is the time to explore chatbots. They are extremely easy to deploy and results are instant.

How Leaders Achieve Agility and Stability

As events continue to unfold, ready your business for whatever may come your way. Now is the time to enable your workforce to scale quickly and allow the flexibility to work from anywhere. 

Your company can be up and running with messaging and bots in as little as 24-48 hours. Bots can be built to focus on the immediate and most frequent customer inquiries, or the most basic requests, with future iterations building in more complex workflows to meet your needs.

The City of Knoxville  first decided to build a bot to answer questions about the 2020 census. Unexpectedly, rapid developments with COVID-19 required that answers to common questions around the virus also be made available, which became more important than the census initiative. A chatbot was built and deployed in days to help answer citizen’s questions. For Knoxville’s leadership, “the web and SMS chatbot offers some assurance that the city call center can stay open, even with employees unable to work in the central office.”

As another example, Stio, a retailer based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, used web chat to reduce the volume of calls during the holiday season. Adding SMS/text messaging to further reduce call volume resulted in 80% of conversations taking place on text messaging. When the company added bots, call volume decreased an additional 9%.

Control What You Can

A global recession is all but certain, Many would argue that it’s already underway. What isn’t certain is its magnitude. No one can control how large or small, or how long it will last. 

Taking care of your customers and employees in these uncertain times is where you can take control. Providing superior customer service supports your short-term and long-term business success. How you provide that care today will influence your customer’s behavior and perceptions of your business for years to come. 

Giving your employees a sense of control is also important. Serving customers is no easy job. Providing employees with the right tools to help remove some of the friction of working in a contact center is one way you can help your agents through this trying time.

Agents can only answer one phone call or email at a time. Trying to get fewer agents to answer more calls or emails in less time will compromise your quality of service and frustrate your agents. Quiq Messaging gets your agents off the phone by deflecting incoming calls to chat and text messaging where they can handle 7 simultaneous conversations at a time, while still providing a high level of service and attention to your customers. One phone call or seven messaging conversations – the choice is clear.

Take Swift And Decisive Action

Organizational resilience depends on anticipating, responding, and adapting to change. A company’s ability to weather the storms of change have certainly been tested lately and forecasts aren’t predicting clear skies just yet.

It’s only human, when things get tough, to go into self-preservation mode. For some, that might look like making decisions out of panic – like selling your entire stock portfolio at its lowest point and hoarding dozens of rolls of toilet paper.

For others, it may be avoiding investments in their business now that will create returns through a recession and beyond. But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you’re ready to invest in messaging and better prepare for an economic downturn, schedule a demo today so you can see for yourself how messaging and bots can work for your business.

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Driving CX Efficiency in the Wake of Business Disruption

There’s been a lot of discussion around business disruption lately and how companies are coping through this difficult time. Coping, in some cases, means doing more with less. 

Even in the midst of all this change, leaders have adapted quickly and are driving efficiencies in their organizations by focusing on digital strategies. Quiq CEO, Mike Myer, recently published an article in the  CX Insight Magazine entitled “Driving CX Efficiency in the wake of business disruption”. He shares his thoughts on 3 areas leaders may want to consider focusing on. 

In the article, Mike encourages leaders to focus their time and resources on how they communicate with customers, how they equip their staff, and the role technology plays today and in the future.

The Case for Digital Communication

The article states how important accessibility and communication with your organization is for customers during business disruption. As prospects and consumers ourselves, we’ve all seen the COVID related messages from companies explaining how the pandemic is affecting their business. 

These messages have been an effective way to lift the veil on how the crisis has impacted the employees, operations, and processes, but it shouldn’t stop with just an email. With text messaging, web chat, and social direct messages, the conversation can go beyond a one-sided, one-off email. 

With Quiq’s messaging platform, you can send and receive messages. Send updates on orders, notifications on delivery dates, or just share information to keep everyone up-to-date. With messaging, you provide customers a consistent forum to answer questions and address ambiguity, either by initiating a conversation with you, or by responding to a message you’ve sent to them.

Read the full article on the Execs In The Know website to learn how digital channels can help companies provide consumers access to stay informed and receive the information they need.

Focus on the People, Not Just the Tools

The global scale of COVID-19 has affected companies and customers around the globe. Consumer inquiries have swelled to unprecedented volumes and customers are looking for guidance. 

No sector has been spared. Businesses, government agencies, higher-ed, and other organizations continue to struggle to keep up with the unexpected influx of calls, with some customers waiting on hold for hours. Meanwhile, companies have had to balance the need to staff contact centers with protecting their agents by sending them to work from home or granting them a leave of absence. 

The Execs In The Know article highlights how technology has enabled companies to achieve that balance. Instead of putting pressure on stressed agents to answer more calls, many of whom are working from home for the first time, companies have turned to digital channels and implemented chatbots to boost agent efficiency and deflect phone calls altogether.

The asynchronous nature of messaging allows agents to handle up to 7 conversations at one time vs a 1-to-1 phone call. Meanwhile, chatbots eliminate calls by providing consumers answers to frequently asked questions that didn’t need a human agent to answer. If a human agent is needed during the conversation, customers can be transferred to a live agent.

Chatbots are especially useful during spikes of high demand of any kind. Rerouting calls with long wait times, deflecting calls from the IVR, and capturing customer information to expedite conversations, are scenarios playing out for companies that have implemented the right tools to deal with large fluctuations.

Crisis Management for Today and The Future

Many leaders have seen their share of disaster recovery plans put into effect due to power outages, flooded offices, and even crashed systems. Few, if any, could have predicted the impact that a microscopic virus could have on their business and the economy. 

Mike Myer states in the article, “As leaders adapt to a new and demanding reality, plans will have to have a stronger focus on the technology that allows their workforce to scale quickly, allowing the flexibility to work from anywhere.” Unlike telephony systems, messaging provides the flexibility companies need to quickly and dynamically change the location of contact center agents, keeping them online to continue to assist customers.

Drive Efficiency in Your Organization

Companies are making every effort to secure the safety and security of their employees and the future of their business, Technology will continue to play a major role in our recovery.

For more detail on this topic, you can read the full article on the Execs In The Know Website. For a more in depth discussion, schedule some time today so we can help you drive more efficiency in your organization.

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