Companies proud of their customer service: pandemic edition


If there’s a silver lining to this seemingly endless pandemic, it’s this: Some companies have quietly rethought the way they interact with their customers – and for the better.

For companies that pride themselves on their customer service, this has been an opportunity to stand out as the best in their industry.

Whether you run a billion dollar telecommunications company or run a coffee shop in Columbus, Ohio, the stories of companies proud of their customer service are inspiring and heartwarming.

“The pandemic has realigned the needs of consumers,” says Zachary Johnson, associate professor of marketing at Adelphi University. “So the customer service success stories have come from companies that have adapted to these changes. “

Which companies pride themselves on customer service?

Here are some recent examples:

The target hits the nail on the head

Johnson likes the way Target realigned its business to meet customer needs amid the pandemic. “Target has shifted a lot of its value proposition,” he explains. “It leveraged its existing brick and mortar advantage, which became a click-and-order success story with same-day pickup and deliveries at its 1,897 locations in the United States. He adds: “The target has hit the bull’s-eye.”

Mediacom redoubles communication

Media Communication moved its call center staff home when the pandemic struck. The regional cable operator invested in more customer communication technologies, adding new ways for customers to connect through its mobile app, online support portal and text messaging. The result: more satisfied customers.

Williamsburg Landing goes the extra mile

When the coronavirus epidemic began, Williamsburg Landing, a retirement community, was in desperate need of help preparing and delivering meals to residents. The facility turned to colleagues at the nearby College of William and Mary for help. Sodexo, a food service company, operates both facilities. “In three hours, they sent me the names of six cooks, two waiters and two bakers who were ready to help,” Patrick Day, general manager of Williamsburg Landing, explained to FORBES. “We contacted them and they started the next day. “

In fact, many companies saw the COVID-19 outbreak as an opportunity to improve.

“The pandemic has made it possible to re-evaluate the best way to serve customers as it has become evident that customer needs are changing rapidly,” said Jeremy Murchland, president of the travel insurance company. Seven corners.

His company’s response has been a customer guarantee called 24 / SEVEN which includes a more intuitive purchasing process, 24-hour customer service, and support from the company’s sales team.

It’s all in the app

At the start of the pandemic, as physical stores closed, forward-looking businesses realized they could connect with customers through their phones. (You don’t have to be a phone company to know that, but it helps.) Companies like Verizon have started to develop a more sophisticated multifunctional app. The latest version of MyVerizon app allows you to book in-store appointments, purchase products, upgrade your devices, access customer support, and pay your bills online. The changes coincided with a push towards “contactless” retailing, with in-store or curbside pickup of online shopping.

Verizon is not alone. Travel insurance company Travelex is launching a new app called Travel On. The goal: to help keep customers safe and informed before and during their trip. “Travel On will also provide travelers with destination information and travel advice regarding health, transportation, entry and exit requirements and COVID restrictions,” said Christine Buggy, vice president of marketing at Travelex .

The doctor will not see you

Chip Bell, a customer service advisor, says the switch to telemedicine happened quickly during the pandemic. “My doctor had planned to implement telemedicine at some point,” he says. “However, the pandemic has sped up its implementation. Now it is standard practice. When you call for an appointment, you are asked if you need to see a healthcare professional in person or if you want to do it by telemedicine. ” Jeffrey Gelblum, a physician with Premier Neurology in Florida, reports that his practice, which used telehealth for about 5% of visits before COVID-19, now uses it for more than 90% of visits. “The first few weeks of the pandemic saw a rapid increase in the adoption of telehealth by our customers – a remarkable 16-fold increase in terms of minutes used,” reports Girish Navani, CEO of eClinicalWorks, a provider of telemedicine software. Patients were happy to “see” their doctors without seeing them – one of the bizarre results of the pandemic.

A rapidly advancing pandemic

Companies like Nations Loan Society, who saw themselves as “forward thinking” before the pandemic, found themselves in “fast forward” mode after the plague struck. And it was a good thing. “The pandemic has actually accelerated technological change,” said Jeremy Sopko, co-founder and CEO. The company had planned to make improvements to customer service over the next two years. Instead, he was successful in three months. Much of its communications with consumers has gone digital, including the way consumers provide it with financial documents. “Meanwhile, we’ve turned to machine learning and artificial intelligence to handle credit scores and even part of the underwriting process,” Sopko said. The result: Customers spent less time on the phone, less time filling out paperwork, and experienced 50% fewer delays than the industry average.

Tell the truth

This is what Paul Mamangakis did. He is the director of customer support for the Florida-based photo decoration brand. Fracture. When the pandemic erupted, Fracture decided to cut plant staff by nearly 50% to prioritize necessary COVID security measures and increased cleanup. This almost doubled the turnaround times. “Rather than just apologizing to customers for the delays, we decided to take ownership of this decision and publicize it as much as possible,” he said. “We were confident in our reasoning and we believed in our customers – we were convinced that they would place more importance on the safety of our employees than on the speed of delivery of their own order. And they did. Customers supported the decision and rewarded Fracture with high ratings and service ratings.

The concert is not canceled

Rachel Kerr, who directs Kerr Entertainment Group, a full-service entertainment agency in Nashville, faced an existential crisis when the pandemic shut down concerts. But customers still wanted music, and she found a way to provide it: a digital platform called KRG Live that allows users to watch premium virtual events on any device connected to the Internet. Since the start of the pandemic, they have hosted private events with stars like Alice Cooper, Kenny Loggins and Lee Brice on the platform. “Developing this app has allowed us to produce virtual concerts for private events and raise over $ 500,000 for a large non-profit organization,” Kerr explains.

You can always talk to your customers

The customers have not disappeared. This is what Jamal Latif discovered after the pandemic forced him to close the dining rooms of the Lavash coffee in Columbus, Ohio. As a co-owner of the cafe, he looked forward to having daily interactions with his customers. It passed to Facebook. “Social media has become the best way for us to talk and interact with our customers that we used to see regularly,” he says. “Customers would send us photos of their Lavash takeout. We could respond quickly, which almost recreated the conversations we would have with customers when they had dinner with us.” Talking about hummus and shawarma online seemed a bit ‘dystopian,’ he admits, but it also reassured him that human interaction would continue against all odds.

Customers will know

But how do you measure the success of these initiatives? Sometimes that’s a tough question to answer. Take the travel insurance company Roam Arch Right, for example. It increased real-time call monitoring, which allowed supervisors to provide immediate feedback to the company’s customer service team. He has also created a team wiki to host the most recent information on COVID coverage and quickly process change requests.

“It meant our staff could deliver consistent responses to every call, email and text we received,” said Tim Dodge, vice president of travel marketing at Arch.

Whether you’re selling travel insurance or falafels, it’s easy to lose sight of your customers during a pandemic. Often it’s because you can’t see them. But they can see you. Businesses that value customer service need to take a long-term view and sometimes make significant investments in technology or people. And they may not see any dividends yet.

But they will soon.

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