May 12, 2020
Deborah L Furey, SVP Solutions
One of my clients recently posted about an experience in which a vendor told him “let us know if we can help in any way” during this challenging time; when my client asked for extended payment terms, the vendor explained why that was not possible. You can imagine how my client now feels about this vendor and the likelihood of renewing with them in the future. This is the equivalent of “hitting ‘em when they’re” down – nothing will erode a relationship faster than disingenuous offers and platitudes.
More than 59% of global consumers surveyed by PWC global felt companies had lost touch with the “human” customer experience - even before this crisis - with 75% preferring again to interact with a human being. While there are lots of recommendations out there right now on how to take advantage of and anticipate the outcomes of the recovery to drive your growth, customers now more than ever want to be seen and understood. There is a lot of sensitivity to intent and true empathy in tone as companies interact with customers – this is truly a time to be authentic in your communications and offers.
There are clearly a number of companies that are going big in their efforts to help customers and the community with services and products.
Examples include 3M helping to import N95 face masks from around the world, Ford using its plants to mass-produce protective face shields and Google offering ad credits to clients. These efforts certainly spread good will broadly – but what about “helping in any way” customers struggling with the crisis?
Here we found some notable examples:
American Family Insurance of Madison, Wisconsin - sending its customers $50 per vehicle insured by the company. While this is possible because there are fewer vehicles, accidents and thus costs to the company - their choice to refund this to consumers is a welcome – and memorable - buffer for families struggling with finances.
Bank of America – the Charlotte, NC company, is working to accommodate customers struggling with unemployment by refunding overdraft fees, deferring mortgage payments and issuing refunds for late fees, and suspending foreclosures, evictions, and repossessions.
U-Haul – The Phoenix, Arizona moving company is helping students left with nowhere to put their belongings from closed campuses with a month of free storage at company-owned storage facilities.
This is by no means and exhaustive list. Of course, these companies are substantial in size and arguably can afford these efforts, but they did not have to; it was a choice. A choice that consumers will remember when this is over - not because it introduced or sold them into new services but because it filled a challenging spot in their lives in an authentic way.