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Annette Franz

Customer Care

Is Your Customer Experience Crisis-Ready?

Building a future-proof culture

Published: Monday, May 18, 2020 - 12:02

There’s a little bit of irony in the title of this article. Why do we have to make sure the customer—and employee—experience is crisis-ready? Well, as John Kennedy said, “The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.”

Back in November 2012, I wrote an article titled, “Are You Ready for Black Friday?” The point of that article was related to what I’m writing about here. I’m sharing my updated thoughts on this topic because they relate to the current Covid-19 situation.

If your organization is customer-centric, and if you are working to improve the customer experience every day, then today (or this year) is no different in terms of what you should be doing to deliver a great experience. Consistency in the experience is key, regardless of the time of day, the time of year, or a pandemic that lasts months or longer.

If, over the last year(s), you’ve consistently...
• Stuck to—and delivered on—your brand promise
Hired the right people for your organization
Taken care of your employees, including ensuring they have the tools, resources, and appropriate policies and processes to serve customers
• Socialized and operationalized your core values
• Built a people-centric culture, where people come before metrics, products, and profits
Understood your customers and used those learnings to design and deliver a great experience
Measured what matters
• Built and lived all of the other foundational elements of building a great customer experience

... then you know what to do. Every day.

This crisis is a good reminder that people are (at) the core of your business. Given that, you should be treating employees and customers no differently today, during this crisis, than any other day. You should always be caring about your employees’ health and safety, and you should be doing the same for your customers. You should always be delivering appropriate, timely, and relevant content and messaging to employees, and you should be doing the same for your customers.

You should always value your employees and your customers. And ensuring that people are at the heart of your business means that you’ll always deliver an experience that meets their needs and solves their problems.

Always.

This is important because, according to Edelman’s latest brand trust report, published on March 30, 2020, to understand the role that brands are expected to play during the pandemic, 71 percent of respondents agreed that if they perceive a brand is putting profit over people, they will lose trust in that brand forever.

Forever.

So do the right thing. But why is it so hard for some to do the right thing? What’s at the heart of it all?

Culture.

Culture is really the anchor that keeps the ship upright and in place. Hat tip to Jessica Noble of Magnetic Experiences for sharing the story about Zappos providing customer service for any product at this time. Years ago, there were stories of Zappos ordering pizzas for customers and doing other things that didn’t seem in line with a brand selling shoes. (BTW, that’s not all they do, as you’ve probably already figured out. They aren’t a shoe seller. They are a service company.) This isn’t their business model, but when you have a culture that’s rooted in 10 awesome core values, including “deliver WOW through service,” you know what you can always expect from Zappos.

There are a lot of brands struggling to deliver a great experience right now, doing and saying all the wrong things. With the right culture in place, this would be much less challenging.

I think today’s quote from Zappos founder and CEO, Tony Hsieh, sums it up nicely:
“Your personal core values define who you are, and a company’s core values ultimately define the company’s character and brand. For individuals, character is destiny. For organizations, culture is destiny.”

First published April 21, 2020, on the CX Journey blog.

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About The Author

Annette Franz’s picture

Annette Franz

Annette Franz, CCXP is founder and CEO of CX Journey Inc. She’s got 25 years of experience in both helping companies understand their employees and customers and identifying what drives retention, satisfaction, engagement, and the overall experience – so that, together, we can design a better experience for all constituents. She's an author (she wrote the book on customer understanding!), a speaker, and a customer experience thought leader and influencer. She serves as Vice Chairwoman on the Board of Directors of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA), is an official member of the Forbes Coaches Council, and is an Advisory Board member for CX@Rutgers.