Amid this crisis that we are currently going through, I’ve been hearing lots of stories from organizations saying that customers are calling them and asking lots of surprising and non-product or service related questions.
They’ve been asking questions like:
Can I go to the dentist?
Can I get my hair cut?
Can my pet get the virus?
Does the virus live on surfaces? And, if so, how does that affect the delivery of paperwork or packaging or signing for deliveries?
On the surface, these questions could, on the one hand, seem comical and on the other a bit weird. However, I believe they say a lot about how those customers perceive the brands and how they think that they can help.
But, given that many service and support teams are still managing both the transition to remote working and significant increases in demand for help from customers, these calls are in danger of tying up essential resources and having a knock-on effect on the level of service that is received by other customers.
This is something that CallMiner, a provider of speech analytics solutions for improving agent performance and customer intelligence, started to notice in late January when they spotted mentions of coronavirus beginning to show up in their data.
What surprised them, though was that the mentions weren’t showing up where they expected them to show up.
They found that pandemic issues were showing up in unexpected areas. Take, for example, one customer, a waste disposal business, where the paper shredding side of their business was receiving 30-50 calls a day asking about whether the virus can live on paper.
Or, in the logistics section of another customer, a medical waste disposal business, where they spotted a growing concern from customers regarding digital signatures. What was happening was that customers were calling the medical waste disposal business to ask what they should do about signing their names with their fingers on handheld screens. Customers were also concerned about whether those screens had been wiped clean in between uses.
After the initial identification of these issues, CallMiner continued to monitor their data. What they realized was that a broader set of issues were emerging and that many of their customers were potentially ill-prepared to deal with such a diverse set of questions.
Responding to this trend, CallMiner’s CTO and Founder Jeff Gallino told me that they quickly set up the Coronavirus Customer Think Tank, an analytics and community forum, to share their data, questions that were emerging as well as the responses that were being generated.
The response to the forum has been very positive with the community working together to develop a broad and deep set of responses to the growing number of surprising coronavirus-related questions that many of their companies are facing.
Those crowdsourced and community developed responses continue to grow and are now being featured in knowledge bases, phone calls and newsletters to customers.
I like this story as it is an excellent example of how the contact center community, aided by the pro-activeness of CallMiner, have come together to help each other. In turn, they have helped their employees and their customers deal with some of the most unexpected questions in this time of crisis.