The impact of the coronavirus pandemic is unprecedented, with us being forced to live and behave in certain ways. One of the biggest changes has been how we shop and serve people, writes Jaquie Scammell, coach, business mentor and best selling author of Service Habits.
We’ve gained confidence in online shopping and lost it in physical interactions with bricks-and-mortar stores.
It has been relatively easy for many companies to respond to customers’ needs, meet them where they are at and even reach new audiences thanks to digital, at-home services.
However, in the future, companies will have an option to either maintain these customer relationships post-crisis, or else revert to ‘normal’. Regardless, the challenge for any business relying on foot traffic will be regaining confidence in the now savvy online customer.
How will bricks-and-mortar stores deliver exceptional real-life experiences?
Extraordinary service is your secret weapon to restoring social connectedness and creating customer loyalty throughout the chaos.
Put people first
In June 2019, Deloitte put out an article While the future of work is human, Australia faces a major skills crisis, which stated that two thirds of the jobs created between now and 2030 will be reliant on soft skills.
At the time of the article being published there was a multimillion-dollar gap between the skills needed for the future and the number of people with those ‘skills’, which were skills of the heart, including empathy, good judgement, social intelligence and deep listening.
Businesses lacking skilled employees with the interpersonal skills that make customers feel seen, heard and understood, will need to address this in the coming months to be able to stand out and be memorable in the eyes of the consumer – whether that it online or face to face.
Also remember, service is an inside job. What you do as a culture, a workforce, when no-one is watching is your true nature in service. There’s no point focussing on the quality of your service externally if the service among your teams and across department is not a genuine, healthy reflection of what you desire to project towards your customers.
Employees have long been viewed as selling tools, a cog in a system that is part of the service chain. Nowadays you need to view your employees as connectivity tools, connecting your products and services to meaning and creating an emotional connection in a service interaction where they can add value.
The way service professionals talk about what they are selling, through their product knowledge, the story of the product and their own personal experience of using the product or service, will speak volumes in a cautious buyer.
Plus, given there are more unusual circumstances these days than any of us could have imagined, there will be a need for your employees to maintain a level of flexibility and agility to continually meet the customer where they are needed.
Creating a win-win solution for your business and your customers is the goal and as the needs of the customers change, so too do policies, procedures and rules need to change.
Above all else, every interaction is about building long-lasting and loyal relationships. That is the heart to good service, no matter how or where you serve.
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