For some of us, sheltering-in-place may not have a clear end in sight. For all of us, this global pandemic has tossed our plans for 2020 out the window. Now, with more time spent indoors, the lines between work and home are blurring—something that’s top of mind for many organizations trying to support both employees and customers.
This balancing act is a topic that Sarah Reed, senior director of global strategic events at Zendesk, recently tackled with leaders in customer experience from SoFi, 23andMe, and Stitch Fix. While each company faces unique challenges, everyone agreed that making a conscious effort to remember that we’re all humans trying to do our best during this pandemic can make all the difference.
With more time spent indoors, the lines between work and home are blurring—something that’s top of mind for many organizations trying to support both employees and customers.
Here’s what each business leader shared about how their organization is adapting and moving forward, and how they’re translating successes (and failures) at work into growth and progress at home.
SoFi: Keeping conversations human
Money is stressful—especially when times are tough. Talking about personal finances, building wealth, paying off debt or planning for the future can be an emotionally draining, yet necessary experience. For SoFi, an online personal finance company, having important conversations with customers is in their DNA. And when it comes to talking about money, empathy is key. “You don’t want to lose the humanity in the conversation, especially at a time like this,” says SoFi’s VP of Operations Kirk Chapman.
Patience, gratitude, and flexibility can be the glue that holds teams together and keeps them moving forward. The same holds true for how you should approach your relationship with your customers. Chapman adds, “Being able to listen to our members and predict and kind of anticipate what they’re going to ask… It’s a very, very big piece of our business—making sure that we are communicating with our customers [and making it a] first-class experience.”
23andMe: Being an ally both in and out of the office
Being an active teammate and ally to your coworkers is the foundation for life at the office. Transitioning the effectiveness of this camaraderie to digital support can be tough—but not impossible. 23andMe, a biotech company that offers DNA analysis on ancestral background and health history, creates unexpected connections through genealogy. These days, the company is also actively encouraging its employees to connect more deeply with one another.
“At 23andMe, we create these simple documents and circulate them throughout headquarters and let everybody throw in their notes of gratitude and appreciation for [different] teams,” says 23andMe’s Head of Customer Care Kent Hillyer. The documents are then sent off to their respective departments, where team members are encouraged to read these notes of encouragement whenever they’re having a tough day.
Hillyer spoke with Reed and leaders of Zendesk’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion team following the Black Lives Matters protests and the conversation moved beyond gratitude and appreciation for colleagues and community to allyship and what that means. As Smita Pillai, Zendesk’s global head of diversity, equity and inclusion, notes, the path forward is clear. “We are committed to investing in allyship programs, tools, and tips so that every manager in every corner of the world [at] Zendesk knows how to handle these conversations.”
Patience, gratitude, and flexibility can be the glue that holds teams together and keeps them moving forward. The same holds true for how you should approach your relationship with your customers.
“The big thing is encouraging people to get involved,” Hillyer adds. “I think a lot of people are afraid sometimes to say something because they just don’t quite have the right words… We’re not worried about that right now. What we’re worried about is action and ideas and moving things forward.”
The key is to focus on building programs and initiatives that contribute to actual change—not performative statements with no real substance behind them.
[Related read: Stop for a CX moment—actionable advice from industry leaders]
Stitch Fix: Using data to minimize friction
For Stitch Fix, data is everything. The online personal styling service sends members personalized packages of clothing, shoes, and accessories based on customer insights and preferences. When building out these wardrobe selections, Stitch Fix places a huge amount of emphasis on the science behind customer data. Knowing that, it’s no surprise that for Andrea Frangadakis, Stitch Fix’s director of strategy and business operations, and Robyn McCardel, strategic insights manager, a well-rounded data set is invaluable.
“[There’s a] wealth of insight we can get from our interactions with our clients, and our ticket data really represents a potential friction point in their experience,” Frangadakis says. Utilizing customer data to predict and solve customer issues before they even have a chance to emerge makes it much easier to keep your business on track. “It can represent an opportunity to build a relationship with a client. Our goal is to leverage that data and that insight to help inform a more holistic experience.”
“We have trust in our agents that they are going to make the right decisions, and that they know what’s best for the client,” adds McCardel. At a time when not knowing what the future holds has become the norm, minimizing friction and offering a smooth customer experience can make a major impact on how your customers perceive you.