The last 18 months have been challenging for people in both their personal and business lives, many have found new ventures and others have been less fortunate. No matter what your experience we are all glad to be seeing lockdown restrictions easing and life slowly taking a new shape.
Life without lockdown can seem daunting, especially as COVID-19 is still present, so in order to help consumers, feel at ease when visiting business premises, shopping or out for a meal, brands must adapt. This article will look at some of the ways brands can adapt their approach to customer service as we move into the next phase of the pandemic.
To understand how consumer habits and expectations have changed we must first understand what habits and expectations consumers had during lockdown.
Shopping habits in lockdown
It is no surprise that during lockdown online sales increased as shops and restaurant were forced to close their doors. According to research undertaken by CallCare247, sales for both essential and non-essential items were purchased online more than any other platform.
As shops and restaurants begin to reopen, there may still be some hesitation around health and safety measures before consumers start to feel comfortable physically visiting outlets. There are some steps businesses can take to help consumers feel more comfortable and many of these steps relate to customer service.
Customer Service Expectations
Customer expectations in a post-pandemic world have changed due to the level of information that needs to be shared, from providing more notices around the premises to the way we communicate with one another due to face masks.
The survey ran by CallCare247 also revealed that good customer service is within the top three qualities consumers look for when shopping with a brand. To top this, a KMPG study also revealed that UK customer service improved during 2020, which makes us wonder what did we learn and how can we continue with this moving forward?
What we learnt in 2020
Many believe the reason for an improvement in customer service came from a rapid change to the way businesses work, especially in the financial services and retail sectors. Part of the reason is also the need for more online communication, which can be often quicker and more effective for those who have the digital skills and knowledge.
In summary, we leant that fast and effective communication and digital skills are key to a modern customer service approach.
Customer Service Tips
Maintaining quality customer service can be difficult when we must stay two metres apart, not handle goods, and speak to one another wearing a face covering but there are certain things we can do to ensure a quality service is experienced by all.
Make use of digital
As we know, consumers seemed to be happy with the level of service they received during 2020 and just because we can return to stores doesn’t mean this has to stop. Whenever your business has an update make use of your social following, email marketing database and live chat system.
Online resources give us access to almost anyone, including your customers so create material that creates engagement and shares important information about opening times, changes to procedures, and success stories. Remember you do not always have to cerate content that looks to sell, sometimes you may want to be helpful or just remind customers of changes.
Digital platforms are perfect for sharing key information and just because the stores are now open doesn’t mean the same level of online communication needs to stop.
With so many updates to instore regulations it can sometimes feel overwhelming but by using strategically placed notices you can reduce incidents.
Try to place notices above key touch points such as along staircases, at the till or on the window before entry. Floors are also a great place for signs, but try to think out of the box as this will grab attention and make people more aware of the notice and its message.
As face coverings don’t allow customers to see your mouth it can sometimes be difficult to communicate, therefore staff need to be more aware of their body language, tone of voice, volume and eyes.
When speaking to anyone, staff should maintain a professional manner and offer advice and direction, and not get frustrated if customers miss signs or misinterpret new procedures. Try to use hand gestures when explaining directions and be aware of the volume of your voice in case customers cannot hear you through the face covering.
To summarise, consumers want a high level of customer service and digital allowed for this in many ways. Businesses should continue to use digital and telephone services, even though stores are open, to provide alternate ways for communication. When speaking with people instore try to remain calm and be more aware of body language and voice. If you have any experiences or opinions on customer service when stores begin to reopen then share them with us.
Building Consumer Confidence and Preparing your Business for the Post-Pandemic Era
With regional lockdown restrictions designed to curb the spread of COVID-19 still very much in place across the UK as we enter 2021, the ways in which businesses, shops, pubs and restaurants operate are continuing to adapt. Naturally, after months of society in the UK also attempting to adapt to a so-called ‘new normal’, predicting just how significantly the pandemic has changed our day-to-day lives going forward into the new year is a challenge.
With this in mind, here at CallCare we wanted to assess just how much the pandemic, and all the restrictions that have come with it, has changed consumers’ shopping habits and the expectations people have towards customer services as we head into 2021. To do this, we asked 800 UK residents – from a mixture of different locations, age groups, professions and walks of life – a selection of questions relating to their views on how they think their customer service expectations and general shopping habits changed in 2020. Check out some of our most interesting findings below.