Top 5 business tips to manage clients amidst COVID-19
Pete Reis-Campbell, CEO at Kaizen, shares his thoughts, experience, and advice to successfully manage your clients during COVID-19, how to protect your team and how the virus has affected his own business.
As a business owner, the prospect of a pandemic that affects many global economies and potentially the day-to-day running of your business can feel daunting. It can be tricky to know how, and where, to lead your business.
1. Be there for your team
Your employees are the most important part of your business. It’s important to recognise that they are likely to feel anxious during this time. Respect that you might see a dip in productivity whilst employees find their feet with this new way of working.
For businesses that have moved to remote working during the pandemic, communication is more important now than it ever has been. Be over the top with it. This means more video calls, more meetings, and more contact. Consider introducing more chances for team check-ins and let them know you’re readily available for a ‘virtual tea’ or to answer any questions they might have.
Slack is a great communication platform that allows everyone in your company to converse throughout the day. This becomes more than just the general running of projects, but a space to encourage employees to share highlights of the week. For us, this can be any activity from beautiful design work to top-tier media placements.
2. Put steps and a POA in place
If you haven’t already, it’s time to consider how COVID-19 is affecting your business and what you can do to reduce the negative impact. This action plan can be split into three manageable steps:
1) Firstly, reduce costs
Once coronavirus picked up, we went through all costs line by line to remove unnecessary cash loss. From software providers to fruit deliveries, this is the time to renegotiate with your suppliers. Reach out to all of your suppliers and see if you can obtain a deferral, a payment holiday or a reduction in overall cost. The more money you can scrape back during this time, the better.
2) Taking advantage of the employee furlough scheme
Do all you can to protect your staff. If you need to, lean on the scheme to cover employee costs and for job reassurance. This can be a lifeline for very small businesses that may see lower cashflow during COVID.
3) Reconfigure and reconstruct your business to cover any losses
If business did get worse, how can you operate at a reduced capacity? Work this out in your business so you know how to act if the worst did happen.
Do right by your employees and look at all three of those plans. A well-prepped business owner has to look at the worst and the best scenario.
3. Give your clients options
Like us, our clients are often business owners. They share the same uncertainty and anxieties post-COVID. With this in mind, consider what you, as a business, can do to continue delivering great work during this time.
Every client has a different culture and this pandemic has made that clear across our own client base. For example, one of our motoring insurance clients has wanted to increase their budget and do more work. A number of our travel clients have wanted to defer or stop work completely.
In the PR and marketing world, we came up with four different options: pause work, carry on like normal, do less work or do more work. Check-in with your client first to see how they’re coping and what they’ve done already before offering those four options.
4. Stick to your original goal
Simply, there was a reason you started. Remember your business ethos and goals throughout this time. There will be an end to this period and normality will return.
5. Remember the importance of a rainy day fund
This pot should cover at least two months’ worth of wages and running costs. My accountant advised me to do this early on.
If this wasn’t achievable for your business pre-COVID, be sure to begin working towards having this money in the bank after the pandemic. Agencies, in particular, will always face the challenge of cash flow - regardless of COVID-19. Having the rainy day fund to hand can help ease your own anxieties and protect your business in the long run.
For more information on all business in Europe, please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief EMEA.
Re-defining the economics of CX in the new customer journey
There’s no shortage of customer service channels for the enterprise to select from today. Regardless of the many new metrics that have emerged – such as customer success, or empathy – cost reduction is still a primary driver in selection criteria.
There are many articles dedicated to how companies can turn customer service and customer experience (CX) from a cost to a revenue centre. The problem is, if you stop there and don’t look beyond cost reduction, you’re limiting the scope for CX to become an even bigger economic contributor in the enterprise.
There is every opportunity for customer service and CX to significantly influence the front end of business, particularly amongst direct-to-consumer subscription-based products and services, such as popular streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, Disney+, as well as sports subscription services like DAZN.
In these products and services and others, there are new customer journeys that may drive business growth and revenue. They start earlier and may last a lifetime, so getting things right at the start of the journey is key so that customers have the best experience from day one.
Not only will this help in making customers less likely to reach out for issues-based support further down the line, but these customers will be much less likely to churn, and much more likely to take up new services as they are offered throughout the lifetime journey.
So, what does the new customer journey look like for these services?
Opportunity waiting for the likes of Netflix & Disney
While consumers may have previously regarded customer service as a way to mitigate the inconveniences in their lives, the customer journey is expanding in scope every day. Today there are many more touchpoints available that put CX in a position to drive revenue.
For one-off purchases, traditional CX deployments have not changed significantly in the past few years. However, if you look at the change in the CX relationships we’re seeing with subscription-based products and services, particularly media-based streaming services, it’s clear that these companies lead what quickly become very multifaceted relationships with their customers. These have serious potential to evolve over time for increased economic benefit.
For any sort of subscription-based business, customer lifetime value is paramount, and the requirement to actively manage a continued positive customer experience is critical.
Every interaction is an opportunity, and every data point is a chance to offer more value. Introductory offers can convert to longtime customers. Longtime customers may take up opportunities to upgrade to more premium products or services. They may also appreciate incentives to invite family and friends to become customers. Consumers who like a particular service, for example, may appreciate a recommendation for another similar or complimentary service.
It all starts with customer interaction, and the customer experience journey becomes an opportunity to strategically affect the user base and resulting revenue - which is a far cry from the limitations of call center cost reduction or churn metrics.
How do companies support the new customer journey?
More and more, customers look at the new customer journey as engaging with brands as part of their lifestyles. Many companies are making brand ambassadors available before the traditional customer journey even starts, which is a marked change from a purely transactional relationship associated with a one-off purchase.
These ambassadors, who are often independent users of products or services, are providing trusted pre-sales advice, and that same trusted advice can also function to nurture the customer journey in a subscription-based relationship. Call it ‘GigCX’ or ‘crowdsourced customer service’ or even ‘peer-to-peer customer service’ - it doesn’t matter.
The key is in providing impartial, trusted advice from real users. Think about it: who would you rather get advice from? Someone who has used a product or service extensively, or someone who has been trained to provide customer service surrounding that product or service?
For services such as streaming media, advice from trusted experts with real product know-how could be invaluable. This may not be limited to technical issues, such as what to do when you can’t access your favourite show, or how to access services across various devices. It could be parents helping other parents who are concerned about how to restrict adult content from child viewers, or simply customers who have similar taste in programming who can comment on the benefits of upgraded or premium products. The point is, these experts are easily available at any touchpoint in the customer lifetime journey, creating more chances to add value.
It’s also about tipping customers from ‘passive’ to ‘promoter’ in the NPS scale. It’s an opportunity to turn neutral customers who may be vulnerable to competitive offerings into loyal enthusiasts who will keep buying and referring others, fuelling growth. It may ultimately help drive even further revenue by creating customers that are helping to sell the brand itself.
And, while chatbots and automation may play a key role, they are often not able to handle the more complex support needed in the new customer journey. Conversational AI is rarely as conversational as it claims to be, and in the new customer journey, most companies are finding that a mix of automation and people-centric service is an ideal way to nurture the many new touchpoints created.
It’s no longer about trying to replace human capital with automation: it’s about orchestrating a uniquely personalised CX, and proactively engaging during the customer lifecycle to enhance the experience, and to create more long-term value.
At the moment, we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of the power to affect the economics introduced by the new customer journey. We’ll no doubt see this evolve rapidly particularly amongst streaming companies as they use human-centric connections in CX to support the full potential of customer lifetime value.
About Roger Beadle
Roger Beadle is an entrepreneur and business leader who is reinventing how customer service is delivered via the gig economy. After establishing several businesses in the contact centre industry, Roger co-founded Limitless with Megan Neale in 2016. Limitless is a gig-economy platform that addresses some of the biggest challenges faced by the contact center industry: low pay, high attrition and access to new talent. Previously, Roger and Megan helped to build one of the largest privately-owned outsourced contact center business in Europe, before selling the business to the global conglomerate Hinduja Group. Roger is an outspoken proponent of digital ethics, worker’s rights and the ‘good-gig:’ which encapsulates gig work for incremental pay versus full time work, skilled gig work, no unpaid time/downtime and zero expenses.
Named a Rising Star at Deloitte’s Technology Fast 50 program, Limitless is a gig customer service platform, combining crowdsourcing and AI to help global businesses address their biggest customer service challenges – rising costs, increasing attrition, variability in demand and the need for diversity. Brands like Microsoft, Unilever, Daily Mail Group and Postmates are using Limitless’ SmartCrowdTM technology to connect with their most engaged customers, and reward them for providing on-demand customer service that can flex in line with demand. Limitless is one of the world’s first global tech platforms to introduce localised platform terms to protect the rights of its gigging workers. Backed by AlbionVC, Downing Ventures and Unilever Ventures, Limitless is empowering people worldwide to earn money for providing brilliant customer service for the brands they love.