A few months ago, Customer Experience leaders were focused on rolling out their plans for the year. Now, with COVID-19 flipping the world on its head and changing everything from the way we work to the way we shop, their customers’ priorities look very different than they did earlier this year. This presents a unique challenge for CX leaders. They must be hyper-vigilant in monitoring the evolving needs of their customers and quickly pivoting their CX programs to stay relevant, helpful, and flexible in the face of uncertainty.
HP’s Brandon McGovern was weeks into his new role as Sr. Director of CX when HP’s entire workforce of 50,000 was sent to work from home due to COVID-19. In a recent conversation for our CX Confessions livestream series, McGovern joined SurveyMonkey’s VP of CX Christine Rimer to explore the new reality for CX leaders—and how they can best serve their customers, organizations, and teams today. Read on for 5 key takeaways and learn more about our upcoming CX Confessions episodes here.
1. Lean into digital transformation
For many organizations, HP included, the global shift to a virtual mode of working, connecting with friends and family, and shopping has become a forcing function for digital transformation. With storefronts shuttered and face-to-face interactions minimized, the organizations that are set up to deliver goods or services digitally—or can pivot quickly to do so—are poised to be more successful than their counterparts that lag behind.
“We've had to make some shifts in how we operate pretty dramatically, overnight,” said McGovern.
In order to achieve the same business objectives in this new environment, strategies will need to be changed and focus may need to be directed toward different areas of the business. In this climate, keeping customers at the center and rallying the business around their needs is critical for driving growth and retention.
2. Be flexible & listen to the now
What you heard from your customers 3 months ago may no longer be relevant. That’s why it’s so important to listen to the people you serve right now, and then reevaluate your priorities in response to what you hear.
“Listen to the challenges that your customers, partners, and employees are having today and respond to those,” says McGovern. “It’s very important to keep that flexibility and keep focused in the moment.”
To stay flexible, McGovern recommends keeping a balance between dynamic and static programs. The static KPIs are important, particularly to measure over time. But your program also needs to be dynamic enough that you can quickly adjust what you’re listening for and the questions you’re asking your customers to make sure they’re still relevant today. “You’ve got to be nimble,” McGovern noted.
Those who keep a business-as-usual mindset with their outreach run the risk of sounding tone deaf—and miss the opportunity to build authentic connections with their customers.
3. Customer Experience & Employee Experience Go Hand in Hand
Delivering a great customer experience is dependent on your employees showing up for your customers and taking action in service of them. That’s why it’s key to start with your employee experience and make sure your employees are set up for success. According to Rimer, “If you have engaged employees, they’ll deliver greatness and value to their customers and the shareholders will win.”
And now more than ever—when the work environment for many of us around the world has fundamentally shifted—your employee experience needs your attention.
Like many tech companies, HP’s flexible work environment has allowed employees to work from home for many years. So for some, the transition to full-time remote work was quick and seamless. But sending home their call center staff was a different story, requiring the organization to find new ways to enable access to the tools and training these employees need to succeed and stay engaged and productive.
“You really have to listen to what’s happening with your employee base and respond to that,” said McGovern.
4. To drive action, start by understanding priorities
In normal times, it’s hard enough to get teams to take action. Your cross-functional partners have their own set of priorities and the Product team has multi-year roadmaps already built out. That’s why it’s key to stay in lockstep with the business strategy—particularly in times of crisis when strategies are rapidly shifting—in order to drive meaningful action in service of your customers.
Understanding what objectives you’re driving toward and then mapping your initiatives back to them is helpful in proving value and making an impact.
To drive your partners toward quicker action, McGovern recommends checking in with yourself: “Do you understand their priorities and bring [customer insights] back to them in their language at the right time?”
5. Be proactive
Over the next few months, businesses will continue to adapt and keep an ear to the ground as the circumstances develop and evolve. But at HP, McGovern says they’ve already begun shifting their mindset to focus on: “What does the new normal look like?”
In the past few months, many rapid changes have been made to business priorities, and not all of them will stick. But some will. Given the charge toward digital transformation, and the new channels available today, the customer journey looks different now and will likely continue to evolve.
As the business navigates through unprecedented times, McGovern has a plan. By staying laser-focused on the customer, surfacing their stories and experiences, and boldly advocating for their needs, McGovern is prepared to weather the storm and guide the business into a brighter future.