So now, while we close the blinds to our business or try to extinguish the fires that this has ignited in our companies, we are upset with those responsible for not seeing it coming. We hope that our customers are patient and understanding with the delays in the refunds of their cancellations, the lack of delivery slots for first need articles, the overwhelmed customer service lines. First world problems whose handling will determine the future relation of our customers with us.
So, what can companies do now? Going back to Gates talk, he insisted in that we needed to develop a response system. Governments and supranational organizations should have made simulations: played the germ games. We have the science and technology to do that, we have data from the public, we have location information, advances of all kinds. As of April 2020, companies should start playing the customer games.
Every corporation has the tools (CRM, communication channels, transactional systems…) and the data (all the customer information these systems extract). They need to be able to visualize the most relevant information and use AI to model their customer mindset during this crisis. That way they could react now, and be ready in the future, should a second wave occur. Companies should establish strategies based on how their customers are behaving to give them empathic and personalized treatment, so they can feel, today more than ever, that they are not treated like a number but like a person.
Personally, I had an especially upsetting experience when the virus broke out in Madrid. Shortly before the lockdown, I had to travel to Mainz in Germany and had booked accommodation at a hotel. Subsequently Madrid authorities recommended to avoid travelling if it was not absolutely urgent. Given the exceptional circumstances, I wrote to the hotel and I asked if I could change the dates or maybe obtain a voucher to visit another time. Realizing that it would be unlikely to get a refund, I tried to find a solution that would financially suit both of us. The hotel’s answer was: (sic) “the cancellation/modification will be charged a 100% of the total amount” under the premise that “we are open as usual and work as usual”. My translation as customer was: “your problem is not our problem and we don’t care”. Delivering this kind of customer experience in times of a crisis will not bring them good reviews nor repeat customers, factors that might be key to their future survival.
We can accept as customers that companies commit mistakes now, but we should not be loyal to those companies that do not learn from their mistakes. If they lack preparedness, the white swans will turn black for them. Understanding the customer mindset and using that knowledge ethically to add empathy in the digital space will be key to building lifelong trust and loyalty and this is what we make feasible at Whenwhyhow.
This is a wakeup call to get ready.