Customer Communications

4 ways to COVID-proof your cross-channel communication

By Nicola Pero 13 April 2020

If there’s one key lesson for businesses right now, it’s the importance of communication and connectivity. From employees to customers to suppliers, keeping in touch is essential as we work together to mitigate the pandemic’s effects.

But there’s a major challenge in this – how do you step up communication levels when the business is under severe resource strain?

Follow these 4 steps:

1. Be proactive with communication – and engage with people on their channel of choice

Everyone is very understanding about disruption in the current situation. That creates an opportunity for your business, because you can foster loyalty that lasts well into the post-coronavirus future. You achieve that by being proactive and leveraging automation.

People are seeking real-time information on different channels, from SMS to email, voice messages, chatbots, WhatsApp and push notifications. Now’s the time to automate communication across all these, so you can easily keep all your stakeholders informed in the best way for them.

So if orders are delayed or events are cancelled, for example, contact people regularly to tell them they’re not forgotten. The package (or ticket refund) may be taking longer than usual to reach them, but you’re on top of it.

Make sure the notifications go to their preferred channel, but also consider using multiple channels to ensure they feel looked after. For example, send succinct messages via SMS, WhatsApp or push notification priming customers for a forthcoming, detailed email.

2. Bolster your IVR system now 

With social distancing and self-isolation in full swing, people have an overwhelming need for human contact – which drives the desire to speak to people. But with call centres straining under high volumes, remote working and reduced staff numbers, you need to acknowledge that need while removing pressure.

That’s where IVR becomes essential. Interactive voice response technology (IVR) has long been a tool in the customer experience arsenal. Now’s the time to eliminate your IVR bottlenecks and bolster your capabilities.

Start by examining your existing IVR approach, including call volumes, menu structure, terminology and prompting. This will help you identify areas causing frustration and delay, such as confusing menus, bad speech recognition and unclear messages.

It’s surprisingly easy and cost-effective to update your IVR system to cope with COVID-19 pressures – and the updates will continue paying dividends into the future.

3. Provide digital support options to take more pressure off your call centre

Yes, improved IVR will help you manage customer support in the current circumstances.

But the other key piece of the puzzle is your digital customer experience strategy. You need to make it as easy as possible for people to self-serve.

AI-powered chatbots help you deliver effective self-service. And they’re easy to set up across channels – from your website to WhatsApp. The key is data integration, because all channels need access to the customer’s entire history. That way, if someone emails about their order and reaches out again on your website chatbot, you can pick up the conversation exactly where they left off.

The result is a connected customer journey that fits around whatever time and technology people have access to at any given moment. And that helps drive a strong relationship, enduring loyalty and future revenue.

4. Make sure you’re getting that most value from data

Data is the typical bottleneck to optimising cross-channel customer journeys. From CRM to order management to ERP to marketing automation – data siloes make it difficult to deliver that seamless experience across touchpoints.

The rapid way businesses have had to adjust to coronavirus has exposed the cost and inefficiency of these siloes. The solution lies in using a solution that quickly and easily orchestrates all your data – so there’s a centralised system powering the entire customer journey.

This is one of the major benefits of the Engage Hub platform – the fact that you centralise insight and engagement for all touchpoints, improving customer satisfaction, operational efficiency and information security. And you can implement it quickly – in a way that drives measurable value and ROI at this unusual time.

Customer experience is key to driving business value now – and into the post-COVID period

Now’s the time to learn practical strategies for improving customer experience – so you support employees and drive loyalty during coronavirus.

Your next step?

Watch our on-demand webinar – 7 ways to effectively engage customers and employees during crisis and beyond.

See other posts by Nicola Pero


Nicola Pero is the Chief Technology Officer and has been with the company since 2000. He is the driving force behind the company's highly successful and innovative technology and products. Nicola studied theoretical physics at university and was very active in the open source and free software community for almost a decade. He more recently completed an MBA at London Business School.

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