Coronavirus (COVID-19) | Top 4 ways to protect the customer + employee experience

Michele Vance | Mar 18, 2020 Michele Vance 03/18/20

As coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to have unprecedented global impact, your organization’s experience management (XM) strategy must be optimized to capture fast-changing feedback and provide rapid and actionable insight. Right now—when fear and uncertainty is amplified—empathy and transparency are key to earning the ongoing trust of your employees and your customers.

Here are 4 ways SMG is actively partnering with our clients:


     1. Turn customer feedback into actionable insight

Brands across all industries are experiencing fast-moving disruption. Retailers are tackling an imbalance of supply-and-demand. Restaurants are closing their doors to onsite dining and shifting to off-premise models while navigating heightened food safety concerns. The travel + entertainment industries are scrambling to accommodate an influx in cancelations and evolving protocols. And the healthcare industry will likely navigate the largest changes of all.

How can you adjust?

  • Ask the right questions: Modify your customer experience (CX) survey to have an increased focus on item availability, cleanliness, + safety, and set up alerts to route immediate feedback to key personnel.
  • Listen + monitor across touchpoints: Ensure your measurement strategy encompasses solicited and unsolicited channels to understand the full scope of how the virus is changing customer behaviors.
  • Optimize text analytics: Track the coronavirus trend and analyze sentiment in customers’ and employees’ open-ended comments—the most common keywords our clients are seeing are: coronavirus, corona virus, caronavirus, carona virus, COVID-19, COVID 19, COVID19.
  • Close the loop on customer issues: Review your case management escalation process to ensure your team is immediately notified of coronavirus-related problems and has the tools to quickly respond + resolve the issues.
  • Prepare for the impact on your contact center: Mine your contact center notes for frequently asked questions or customer concerns. Also consider adding a pop-up chatbot to high-traffic web pages to reduce the burden on your contact center as online shopping increases.
  • Drive digital CX efficiencies: Be prepared for changes in shopping habits—like an influx in customers going online versus visiting a location. Actively monitor problem occurrence + complaints by channel, and test the operational readiness of your online channels.

     2. Provide open, two-way communication with customers and employees

Don’t wait to communicate with customers or employees. Let them know exactly how you plan to operate and what preventative measures you’re taking. When things change, make it your first priority to share what’s changing and why. Open dialogue goes a long way toward establishing trust, reducing employee anxiety and driving overall engagement. Here are a few must-haves to include in your employee communication:

  • Preventative health best practices (especially for employees interacting with customers)
  • Your company’s stance on work-from-home or quarantine policies
  • Links to the CDC or WHO for guidelines on workplace cleanliness, sanitization, and safety
  • A dedicated resource employees can contact with any questions or concerns
  • Include what you know, when you know it, and don’t feel like you have to wait to answer every possible question that might surface

In addition, brands with an employee experience (EX) measurement program in place can send out short, targeted surveys to the field and connect with front-line employees to quickly measure and understand performance during this critical period.


     3. Leverage tools to protect your brand’s online reputation

Make sure you have an online reputation management system in place—one that integrates with your other CX data and allows for easy access to reviews, seamless engagement with customers, and swift problem resolution.


     4. Follow best practices beyond your XM program

Protecting your brand and your employees in the wake of COVID-19 involves action outside your XM program. To really solidify your strategy, be sure to:

  • Focus on your business continuity plan, or build one if you don’t have one. Business continuity should be focused on: protecting employees, customer centricity, prioritization of business critical operations, supply chain management, and workplace safety.
  • Understand and plan for disruption with supply chain and other third parties. Aim to create protective redundancies across suppliers and consider in-house solutions. 
  • If you need to close locations, be sure to update your online or digital business listings. Do a thorough sweep to ensure you’ve communicated your modified hours or temporary closures across any place customers might search for your company information.

You don’t have to navigate the COVID-19 impact alone

We all care about providing our customers and our employees with positive experiences.  In fact, many of us have chosen to make improving experiences central to our life’s work. Know that your SMG team is here to provide your organization with effective tools to help you listen, interpret, and act on feedback while together we navigate these uncertain times.

If we can be of any help, please reach out.


Michele Vance | President

Customer Experience Update