A call for empathy-based customer engagement

By Team Session AI on May 6, 2020

Keeping your customer engagement strategy aligned with customer sentiment is more important than ever as the impact of COVID-19 unfolds

As we grapple with the temporary new norm and changes to our lives, the way we work, shop and socialize is changing. We constantly see businesses adapting their operations as necessary, including shutting down stores and restaurants, and prioritize the well-being of their employees and customers. With many ordered to shelter-in-place, digital communications and online shopping have become scalable ways to rapidly meet the challenges for businesses and consumers alike.   

So, what does this mean for businesses? It means that keeping business going today is about showing you care. It is about keeping the well-being and the needs of consumers and employees, without compromising health and safety, as your highest priority.    

“To the business leaders navigating these decisions, our guidance is clear: Treat your employees and customers as your North Star,” said Forrester Senior Analyst Anjali Lai in her latest blog. “When consumers find those brands that prioritize the customer, they reward the companies with preference, advocacy, spend, and — the most precious currency of today — trust.”

Indeed, we are seeing many businesses step forward and offer key services to help consumers stay at home in an effort to flatten the curve for COVID-19. These include free video conferencing services for schools, providing free wifi to families who need it for distance learning, providing exercise classes via video streaming, and more. According to a Gartner article: “Brands that take proactive steps to address customer concerns demonstrate customer centricity, which earns customer trust and builds relationships. This is especially important at a time when customer needs and sensitivities are so great.”

Some proactive customer engagement strategies that work well are: 

  • Provide transparency regarding your internal business processes, such as remote staffing
            – Raise awareness of best practices as they evolve in line with public health and safety regulations, leading by example
            – Enable the community to transact with confidence about mutual responsibility 
  • Understand the changing factors affecting customer intent and how best to serve their needs in real-time as situation changes
  • Shift commercial operations to digital channels to maintain consistent and up-to-date communications and engagement across digital touchpoints

With physical distancing being encouraged and enforced under these circumstances, consumers are understandably leaning toward online shopping for their most essential needs. As a result, businesses are looking to quickly ramp up their digital channels to ensure smooth, reliable and meaningful experiences for their site visitors. It is critical, now more than ever, to engage visitors with empathy and relevancy when they come to your website or mobile app. 

This means understanding every visitor’s needs or intent quickly and accurately and responding instantly with appropriate information. Below are some ideas that we hope will spark more empathy-based customer engagement:

  • Provide real-time inventory checks, shipping and delivery options for the desired product to alleviate any stress or confusion the visitor may have about their purchase
  • Encourage your habitual store or restaurant visitors to make online purchases by giving them a special first-time discount or extra loyalty reward points
  • Offer free no-contact delivery when someone orders online to pick up at the restaurant. Let them know right away how long it will take for their order to arrive at their door if they take that option
  • Give the visitor an incentive to purchase an additional item by offering to donate a certain percentage of the total purchase to the visitor’s local charity  
  • Delay the expiration dates of coupons or honor expired loyalty reward points and let them know about it when they are browsing your website

The underlying theme here is being contextually relevant to your site visitors. It is key to make them feel connected to your brand and to promote trust and loyalty.

Feel free to reach out to us for more resources about empathetic customer engagement. We are here to help you create interactions with your site visitors that meet the challenges we are faced with during these unprecedented times.

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