By James Brown, CEO of Smart Communications

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically impacted nearly every aspect of daily life for everyone around the world. While we continue to limit human contact in an effort to slow the spread of the illness, businesses still must support their customers from a distance.  As a result, many enterprises are now faced with accelerating their digital transformation plans in order to deliver the high touch, yet digital, interactions customers need and expect.

We knew 2020 would be a critical year to evolve from static communications to two-way, interactive, SMARTER conversations, but we couldn’t have even imagined just how quickly this shift would need to occur.  We’ve been talking about digital disruption for years now, but businesses are now faced with a new type of disruption. Futurum Research Senior Analyst, Oliver Blanchard, said it best, “At its core, disruption is disruption. It doesn’t matter if it’s technological, economic, environmental, political, or a pandemic.” This pandemic is a wake-up call for businesses of all shapes and sizes – and IT leaders are faced with an unexpected opportunity to revisit their business continuity plans and response strategy. As they do so, it is critical to prioritize and stay focused on what matters most—the customer experience.

Keeping the Customer at the Center

Even before this crisis began, consumers have been trying to tell businesses that they need more. They don’t want to simply receive communications, they want to have SMARTER conversations—interactions that are digital-focused, interactive, relevant and timely.

With anxieties heightened, the need to receive accurate information quickly is more important than ever. Companies that can’t deliver highly personalized, nearly real-time interactions risk losing customer trust and loyalty, and eventually losing customers altogether to a vendor that is better equipped to meet their needs.

By going beyond delivering static, one-way communications and engaging in SMARTER, two-way conversations, companies can actually deepen customer relationships and increase customer loyalty at a time when customers need to feel genuinely supported by every one of their business relationships.

Removing Friction is Key to Meeting Customer Needs

To facilitate more dynamic, interactive conversations, companies must efficiently collect needed information from customers, and use that information to respond appropriately, quickly and via preferred channels. Those companies holding customers on the line for indefinite periods of time aren’t winning deeper loyalty points today. Your customers are as busy and as taxed as you are right now. Emotions are running high as bills mount, family needs continue to grow, and demands skyrocket for each of us. The way you gather information from your customers sets the tone for the immediate interaction – as well as those that will follow during this current pandemic period and beyond. If your company is still highly reliant on paper or scanned PDFs you are delivering an outdated experience that is time-consuming, not customer-centric and ultimately putting your business at risk during this unprecedented pandemic.

Now is the time to transform your forms processes and shift to more adaptive interview-like processes that are more efficient, more meaningful and deliver more value. By asking intelligent questions you can eliminate unnecessary fields and the need to enter and re-enter information into a static form. Customers are guided to either confirm known information or provide necessary details via the shortest route possible. All of this improves customer experience and speeds up processes—both more critical today than ever before.

We Can Help

In our latest piece of thought leadership, we address in more detail the specific shifts enterprises can make to improve their business processes and engage in more meaningful conversations across the entire customer lifecycle. Some of these items can be initiated today; others are items businesses are beginning to consider now knowing that digital transformation is no longer a “nice-to-have” initiative. As stated by Strategy Meets Action’s Mark Breading, “The more that people and businesses get used to operating remotely via digital tools, the more it will be expected – even after the virus is contained. The genie is out of the bottle, and it will be hard to put it back.” Regardless of where you are in your journey, we’re here to help navigate through these uncertain times.

As we work through this global challenge together, we stand with you in support of a stronger community that remains connected through SMARTER digital conversations.