People crave connection. And during the current crisis, many connections they could regularly count on are missing: the friendly waves at school drop-off, the voices in a circle singing Happy Birthday, the hug of a granddaughter, the neighbor coming by to borrow a cup of Splenda.
A commercial connection is a connection nonetheless. Particularly in this time of crisis, what we do–the customer service agents, the CX (customer experience) designers, the unsung heroes behind the scenes–has a value goes beyond the text of the conversation. A friendly, empathetic, well-trained voice on the phone (or well-
aimed thumbs deployed on a chat session) can be a comfort in a world where everything else seems out of whack. A well-designed self-service solution can be a comfort as well, not only by providing the solution it was designed for, but also by providing the user with a feeling of ease and of mastery.
Yaniv Masjedi, CMO of Arizona-based business communications company Nextiva, put this well when we spoke recently. “A deep definition of service is central to what we do at Nextiva in good times as well. But being caring and real has never been quite as important as it is today. Our customers are, first and foremost, people: businesspeople, who have human as well as business needs, and it’s essential to be serving both, especially when times are stressful, as they are today.”
The overarching principle, which I share in my customer service training sessions in good times as well as bad, is to help even when you can’t help. It’s true that the product return that you’re cheerfully processing for a customer isn’t going to replace the college tuition she can no longer afford. And no, your friendly assistance with rescheduling a doctor’s appointment isn’t going to take away her worries about falling sick without insurance. Nonetheless, in a smaller but still important way, you’re still helping out.