The customer service implications of COVID-19

My daughter is in South Africa with her husband on a vacation. She’s just returned back via Europe, but given the coronavirus pandemic and recent developments, getting home was an ordeal.

She tried to contact the airline to see if she could move up her flight. Phone lines were down. Support channels were inaccessible. There was no information on the website, social...no way for her to have her needs addressed. She struggled for eight hours trying to self serve and/or speak with a live support agent - to no avail. Super, super frustrating, needless to say.

I’m sure, at this point, this is a pretty familiar scenario.

And it’s somewhat understandable under the circumstances. Who could have anticipated a pandemic like this? The implications of coronavirus are monumental, and it’s not surprising companies (even countries) across the globe have been caught flat-footed.

But even if companies had been able to anticipate the uncertainty, what could they have done to be better prepared from a customer support point of view?

Simply put, they could have introduced automation to underpin their support strategy.

Had my daughter been able to access a personalized, AI-powered chatbot, she would have been able to make changes to her reservation and access coronavirus news or policy updates on demand, conveniently.

In fact, in the last month and since coronavirus became a concern, Ada clients have watched their customer inquiry volumes spike; and they have been able to contain and resolve these inquiries without significant additional cost, while also maintaining a high degree of customer satisfaction. 

I’m not at all meaning to exploit a situation that is, without a doubt, challenging and unexpected. But I’m watching Ada clients leverage automation to keep their customers informed and happy, while other companies around the world are scrambling to keep up and with no active or viable support channels available. 

It’s hard not herald the value of automation as you watch it address pressing global needs in real time.

So consider this - over the course of the coming weeks, as this pandemic evolves:

  • E-commerce businesses will see web traffic and customer inquiries swell as people stop shopping in bricks and mortar stores
  • Travel, hospitality, airlines will not be able to staff their call centres adequately to address the mounting volume of support inquiries
  • Sporting events, the arts, ticketing and community events will struggle to communicate information about cancellations and refunds
  • Food delivery services will have a watershed of new sign-ups as people stop going to restaurants and supermarkets

Make sure you are ready. Make sure you continue to put the customer first. This is a make-or-break opportunity for your business. Ada is here to help.

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