How Superdry is nailing their Customer Experience during COVID-19
“Loyalty is tough to build, but easy to destroy”. Good customer service/experience is a cornerstone of every business and a survey by Gartner showed that 81% of marketers expect to be competing mostly or completely on the basis of customer experience.
If you are looking for some insights on treating your customer right despite the pandemic, this is it!
As a result of social distancing, restaurants and retailers mostly had to pivot to online orders, mobile applications and scheduled pickup to streamline the process and reduce face-to-face contact. Due to the constrains and restrictions, limited services are being offered, and businesses are ensuring they are providing the best customer service they can- which is critical in distinguishing successful ones from those that are not so.
In such times do we also see business vying to create wow experiences that appears far more interesting and compelling than paying attention to identifying and addressing pain points of consumers. I think this gives way to gimmicky thinking. However, when strategically thought out to fit the brand, it can provide long-term value. For instance, encompassing the entire the overall customer experience, not just focusing on the experience during this pandemic.
This week, I had a quick chat with Brendan Gillen, eCommerce Head at Superdry to discuss about how Superdry is nailing its customer experience in such unprecedented times.
What is expected of retailers in terms of Customer Experience/Service at this current situation?
“It's such a unique situation that none of us have ever been a part of before, there is no playbook at all for what's expected of us and what is expected of customers. As retailers, it's our responsibility first and foremost to make sure the people we serve and the people we work with are safe and looked after during this entire period.
The ways we can do this from a Customer Experience/Support perspective is to be as transparent as possible with how the situation is affecting us and how it may impact them now and in the future and what measures we have put in place both in store and throughout our distribution network to keep everyone safe.
Given some Customer Experience? channels may be impacted, such as in-store and phone support, it's important that we provide alternative and new ways to support our customers.
As an example, at Superdry we were in early stages of trialing 'Live Chat' before this all happened, so we deiced to fast track the roll out and deploy store staff that had been affected by the store closures to man the live chat and give additional support to our Customer Experience/Support team.
We have also made a number of updates to the website to ensure customers knew what was happening when and what parts of the business may be affected. As an example, we launched a 'COVID-19 Impact Status' page that customers can got to see the status of each parts of the business and how they may be affected, we make sure this stays continually updated.”
From Brendan’s points, I can ascertain that even when life has somewhat returned to normal, most of us will be living a “new normal”. Some customers might be financially impacted due to loss of jobs, some might have a new hyper-sensitivity about getting sick from every day activities in the past they took for granted, while others want to live in the seclusion away from others, being digital and contactless.
Whatever the choice, Superdry’s response has been to pivot, innovate and transform their Customer Experience/Support. A good start was taking advantage of the technology available, making life less complicated for customers though the live chat platforms, and status updates to keep track of their purchases. This helps customers not feel alienated and stranded about the situation.
Superdry has even took a stand to care about the well-being of their customers by keeping them informed of the measures you are implementing, and of possible limitations and reductions of service that might take place to ensure their safety. It’s during these times we need to show the best of the brand to our stakeholders and customers. Then you can talk business tomorrow.
Speaking of showing the best behaviour, I have been hearing so much of solidarity and supporting each other in difficult times.
How do you navigate the challenges of these difficult times in showing empathy/solidarity to customers?
“Everyone responds differently in times of uncertainty and are impacted in so many different ways. It's really important that we listen and understand where customers are coming from, take the time to find out how it's affecting them and asking them what we can do to help. Sometimes they aren't even after a solution, just need someone to talk to - so being available and present via whatever means they are contacting you is key.”
Considering the moment in time where there is heightened level of stress and anxiety, one has to take the time to understand their customer’s mindset and take clear steps to meet their needs – using emotional intelligence. Instead of speaking to chatbots online and getting lost in an endless transfer, I’d rather much speak to a real human who can drive more purposefulness and compassion.
In my opinion, the main thing is to stay rooted in reality. It’s about taking the proactive step to engage with your customers showing them you are available for them in a timely manner. Sometimes all you need is a little glimmer of hope, adding value to the conversation but staying true to the brand.
And it’s not only just your customers, but your employees who are feeling the same sentiments about the safety of family members and job security, so there is a need to manage internal communications as well.
With WFH measures in place, how do you support employees to be proactive?
“There have been some really cool initiatives within my teams that not just help us be proactive but try and stimulate some fun as well. A regular 'Guess who's desk is this' is a daily quiz that floats around our chat channels, followed by a Friday afternoon virtual drinks. It's important that we continue to have fun while we are all working from home in isolation.”
It was certainly a great experiment with the onset of work-from-home for most of us. Beyond just the technical adjustments to online meetings and video calls, the initial stages of dealing with isolation and uncertainty was daunting.
Seems like the team at Superdry has found a way to translate the community bonding from the physical environment to the remote workplace, which will go a long way in forging healthy bonds. It’s truly comforting to see organizations meet the challenges with creativity, heart and kindness.
At the end of the day, this pandemic has shown me how critical it is to embrace our humanity. Be it in terms of staying connected, providing additional services, and transitioning online - everything we do should be through the lens of compassion and support.
It’s easier to be a leader when things are going well, but much tougher to lead when things are going bad. Therefore, the frills and perks of traditional Customer Experience programs have been swapped out to focus on solving problems for customers. It comes down to finding the balance between taking care of the customers while looking after the business goals. As we begin to move into the “recovery” phase, the benefits of Customer Experince will be essential to helping companies and customers connect with one another like never before.
Get to know Brendan Gillen
Q: What have you been searching for online in isolation?
A: With all the extra time at home, I can perfect my 'low and slow' bbq recipes, so thats what has been filling my search history!
Q: Which food did you ‘deliver/takeaway’ most often in this period?
A: I am a sucker for fried chicken.
Q:Lesson learnt/quote to get you through this period
A: The world can come together to make drastic changes when in a crisis. There is a lesson in what is happening for all of us, so let's take the time to learn what that is and be a better, stronger world when it's over.
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