In It Together: CX Pros Face COVID-19 Head On

By Gabe Smith, CCXP posted 03-19-2020 01:25 PM


A recent thread on CXPA’s discussion forum revealed that CXPA’s members, like so many around the world, are feeling the impact of COVID-19—in their lives, their teams, and on their customers.

Here are a few of their stories.COVID 19 Virus

Getting Creative in the Fight Against Cancer

Kathy LeJeune is Director of Customer Retention at the American Cancer Society, a non-profit focused on eliminating cancer as a major health concern. The Society has suspended all of its Relay For Life fundraising events through mid-May, aligning with CDC recommendations against convening large gatherings. Now, focus has shifted to virtual fundraising. “Everyone has been at the table getting creative, and really empowering our volunteers to think more creatively as well, because we’re all in the same boat,” she says.

LeJeune says that ultimately, the health and safety of cancer patients is the Society’s top concern. “Cancer doesn’t care that there’s a virus going around and we’re in this situation. People are still getting diagnosed. We’re putting very stringent guidelines on our patient programs.”

A Pain in the…

One CXPA member knew that her company needed to make decisions quickly to protect their customers from the rapidly evolving threat of the novel coronavirus. As a CX leader of a cruise line serving customers whose average age is 72, she knew there was no time to waste.

“We knew we were going to have to suspend [cruises],” she says. “It just became very clear that that’s the only thing to do.”

While acknowledging that cancelling cruises in the short term meant financial loss to the company as well as being “a pain in the butt” for guests, she says that most have been understanding. “Guests can rebook for 125% of the value of what their previous cruise was, and that’s been working out really well. We’re doing everything in our power to make this as smooth as possible, and mutually beneficial for everybody in the long run.”

What Does This Group Need Right Now From Me?

As Chief Customer Growth Officer at SnackNation, which sells boxes of healthy food and beverages to offices nationwide, Chelsie Rae Lee prides herself on getting to know the needs of their customers—usually office managers who, she says, “have been greatly impacted by this shift to remote work.”

“If you’re an office manager, you’re thinking of all kinds of things. You’re thinking of ‘How do I get a good experience for my employees as they go remote? How do we shut down the office and make sure that it’s fine to close up for a few weeks, or indefinitely?’ And so when thinking about that audience this whole week, I said ‘what does this group need right now from me?’”

CX Leadership During Crisis

The team at SnackNation leveraged a multi-year partnership with Feeding America—they’ve donated over 6 million meals to them during the duration of the relationship—to make sure their customers felt supported and that food was sent to where it was most needed. “Food banks are really struggling right now, because they usually get a lot of donations from retail, and everyone’s hoarding things from retail, so there’s nothing to do,” says Lee.

For Lee, answering the question of what her customers needed required a personal touch. “We have a great marketing team, but I felt it was important to send a hand-written message saying ‘Food banks are really impacted. If you’re going to be temporarily remote, consider donating your box and we already have the channel set up to do that. And we’ve gotten thousands of people donating thousands of boxes, thousands of snacks. And we ourselves at SnackNation are donating half a million snacks to local food warehouses.”

Other CX leaders, like LeJeune, are demonstrating leadership internally.

“I’ve been involved in reviewing and providing input in our communications through different channels, making sure our contact center team has the appropriate speaking points and responses, and with our legal teams on escalated situations, and this is clearly one of them,” she says.

The CX professional in the cruise industry suggests that CX leaders need to help their organizations “cut the BS. We are on the same level here. We’re all trying to figure this out together. How we’re treating each other on a very real level matters right now.”

Each of these CX pros acknowledged that this is a stressful time for employees, but Lee says that it is important to find ways to celebrate. “Find a metric,” she says. “Because if you’re losing revenue, if you’re dealing with angry customer complaints all the time, find a metric that you can get behind and celebrate. For us, it’s meals donated or members helped. We’re actually now tracking that metric every day. Because if people just feel down and they’re working remote, it’s hard to get them to rally. But if there’s something you can do that around, that’s really helpful.”

Join the Community

How has COVID-19 impacted you and your customers—and how are you helping your organization during this time? Join the discussion here.