Business Continuity: Pivoting to New Demands While Preparing for the Future
by Christopher Parkin
posted on 03-30-2020
These turbulent times are changing the lives of consumers and businesses alike, reinforcing the need for public and private companies and organizations to become more customer-centric and experience-driven.
Adobe is focused on helping our customers remain well-positioned for business continuity, and to stay agile in today’s challenging times when things are quickly changing. Business continuity is not about a moment in time, it’s about adapting to the current environment and innovating as you go along. This may require rapid pivots to build your position of trust and to continue to gain customer confidence. One thing is certain, digital engagement will be among the most powerful assets in every organization’s arsenal for responding effectively and decisively to this and future challenges.
To frame our point of view on business continuity, we have identified six key pillars to help you navigate potential changes needed in your digital experience strategy, and enable your business to manage customer experiences today and the future.
1. Understand your customers and how they want to engage at this moment
Digital engagement with customers will increase for many businesses and agencies, and these challenging times will likely bring new visitors to your website — people who may have been interacting with your company in very different ways previously.
Understanding your customers’ needs, determining why they’re visiting, and delivering the right information is more important than ever. Current events have disrupted normal habits, created a sense of urgency, and have fundamentally changed why customers are interacting with you. Now, almost every mobile and website interaction represents someone who has a specific and immediate need. In order to respond quickly, you need an acute awareness of what that customer needs. And this requirement to understand your customer needs, spans industries. It could be someone checking to see that they can get cash at a nearby ATM. It may be someone seeking in-stock essential goods. Perhaps it is a customer attempting to use your mobile app for the first to time to order food. Understanding your customer’s context is critical to effectively serving them.
Your company’s key to success is in the ability to identify specific customers and customer segments, and understanding their behavior across digital channels to uncover specific areas of interest, or where they are running into friction finding what they are after. This view of the customer will help you deliver more personalized content and create more positive customer outcomes – for them and for your business.
- Retail — Develop priority segments for key groups. For example, you may focus on healthcare workers and elderly, to advertise special hours and provide product recommendations to compensate for unavailability of first choice items.
- Financial Services — Customers are engaging with a higher sense of urgency, ensure you are surfacing the right content to meet their needs; introduce new digital services that can help them in a challenging time.
- Media & Entertainment — As people shelter in place and view more content, support personalized recommendations driven by 1st, 2nd and 3rd party data to drive increased audience engagement with evergreen content.
- Travel & Hospitality — Utilize historical data and newly captured data to provide insights into travelers with a higher likelihood to travel when travel restrictions end.
- Healthcare — Identify customers by geographic location, and direct them to the appropriate local testing facilities based upon age, conditions, and assigned priority.
2. Enhance communications to support meaningful relationships
According to the latest Edelman Trust Barometer,, employers are considered the most trusted source of credible information, followed closely by healthcare organizations–outdistancing both the government and the media.
You can use this position of trust for everyone’s benefit. Provide your customers and employees with clear, concise, timely, and targeted communications that cover the topics that interest them—local and regional updates, changes in policies and procedures, and special offers and programs designed to help them cope with the challenges going on around us.
Transparency and relevancy with your customers will go a long way toward enriching partnerships and maintaining brand loyalty for the future. Be honest with your customers about the challenges you’re facing while reinforcing your commitment to serving them through personalized communications relevant to their situation.
If you proactively reach out to customers with support, you can help with immediate challenges and build long term loyalty. Use customer data to make your messages personal and relevant to their specific needs and circumstances. And increase the frequency and speed of your communication across all channels to help in this time of need.
- Retail — Retarget visitors who browsed or searched for out-of-stock items, with information on when to expect the item will be available.
- Financial Services — Ease customer concerns about access to money by letting them know your branch locations and hours, and even when ATMs will be restocked.
- Travel & Hospitality — Deploy personalized messaging to high value loyalty travelers to re-assure loyalty status and offer enhanced promotions or benefits to loyal travelers when travel resumes.
- Media & Entertainment — Deploy predictive and/or explicit content gates to avoid or prioritize COVID-19 news across sites, and content aggregation of “feel good” stories.
- Telecom — Provide usage and segment-driven discounts to drive brand affinity with end customers for internet and data consumption.
3. Foster strong community and connectivity
We all need a strong sense of community now. Think of new ways you can support your local communities and individual customers who may be feeling isolated.
Make it possible for your employees to share curated content and to engage with customers in social channels, so they feel connected even though they can’t visit in person. Turning employees, sales associates and customers into online influencers where they can come together to share content, experiences and best practices can keep customers engaged and feeling like they’re part of your brand community–even though they can’t visit your physical location. Expand your social media exposure and consider using video, virtual events and gaming or contests to keep your customers connected to your brand and to each other. When things get back to normal, build on the foundation you’ve set.
- Retail — LVMH has converted their perfume and cosmetics facilities in France to manufacture hand sanitizer. Neiman Marcus and Joann Fabrics are partnering to sew protective masks for Dallas-based healthcare workers.
- Financial Services — Banks, credit unions, agents, and advisors have close ties their local communities – consider creating virtual channels and community outreach.
- Media & Entertainment — Service providers can support user community by eliminating data caps, waiving late payment fees, and suspending termination of service for customers unable to pay bills for the near term.Support virtual watch parties for community-building.
- Healthcare — Hospitals and clinics are establishing virtual communities to connect with the community while freeing physical resources to deal with critical functions.
- Travel & Hospitality — Airlines have provided fare sales to help stranded college students and travelers the opportunity to unexpectedly return home.
- Restaurants — 3rd party delivery companies have reduced commissions to provide more revenue back to community restaurants. Starbucks is giving free coffee to 1st responders, hospitals, EMT and other frontline staff.
4. Shift brick and mortar strategies to better serve customers
Essential stores provide an opportunity for customers to still take advantage of “buy online, pickup in store” capabilities. Much like restaurants that are closed to sit down diners, but are still providing take-out and delivery, retailers can use key locations as pick up and distribution centers, especially for consumers at high risk. Actively communicate store closures and hours of operation as well as the types of services available at physical locations to avoid unnecessary travel by your customers. Also consider providing special hours of operation for senior citizens for safe social distancing.
- Retail — Essential retailers are creating COVID-19 web pages to communicate contactless services that promote social distancing, such as buy online, pick up curbside. Meanwhile other retailers are leveraging “digital showrooms” as a way to deliver contextual experiences online and reduce customer need for a brick & mortar visit.
- Financial Services — Shift more interactions to web and mobile to reduce call volume and clearly communicate temporary branch closures.
- Healthcare — Shift from a high-touch low-volume care model to a low-touch high-volume care model to address overwhelming physical locations.
- High Tech — Optimize ad and website for items that are not at risk for supply chain interruptions.
- Media & Entertainment — Use customer profile data to develop new ways of engaging fans; leverage past content to create targeted and engaging experiences quickly despite no live games or events.
5. Encourage adoption of digital self-service
Digital transformation was an important effort across industries before COVID-19, and now it’s critical. According to Forbes, companies that are able to use technology to respond quickly, change their business models, and deliver information to customers will be way ahead of their competition during and after current events.
Not everyone is completely comfortable interacting in our digital world. In fact, for many companies, non-digital users represent a large portion of their customer base. Yet, current conditions may force these customers to inundate call centers in search of information, so now is the time to increase digital adoption with non-digital and digital users alike through educational content, tutorials and guides – all delivered digitally – so you can focus call center personnel to deal with critical activities. Companies can also turn to digitization of forms and administrative tasks to shift away from offline, in-person interactions. Shifting to a digital-first engagement and delivery model will not only improve customer experience, it is more efficient and reduces costs.
And don’t forget to let your customers know exactly what you’re doing to keep their personal information safe. Raising comfort levels now around engaging with your brand and online services can pay huge dividends going forward.
- Retail — Increase awareness of delivery options for high-risk groups e.g. prescription deliveryfor elderly population.
- Financial Services — Increase digital adoption (web and mobile) to reduce pressure on call centers and eliminate unnecessary trips to the branch. Develop how-to videos to help customers do banking transactions digitally.
- Media & Entertainment — Offset high call volumes by using digital self-service features, leveraging interactive voice response, online platforms, and AI chatbots to enhance customer service.
- Healthcare — Convert enrollment processes, evidence gathering, evaluation forms, etc., from paper-based to digital forms and signatures to generate resource efficiencies and lower costs.
- Travel & Hospitality — Deflect call center costs by streamlining cancellations and rebooking flow for impacted customers. Enhance digital self-service like FAQ’s based on insights from Call Center analytics.
6. Embrace new ways of working
A distributed or virtual workforce requires new ways of collaboration and processes to maintain and even increase effectiveness. These include empowering employees with the same technology their customers are using, democratizing data to enable a common understanding of the customer and business performance, enhanced workflows that facilitate efficient review and approval of campaigns and the use of artificial intelligence to automate personalization and customer engagement activities at scale.
And if social distancing and location closures continue for an extended time, your customer facing staff may need to rely more on digital to serve your customers, which can speed interactions and enable work to happen anywhere. If you already have these tools, offer training to build your employees’ confidence—and their customer relationships. Virtually train and empower employees as you adjust, and over-communicate new policies both digitally and offline. Use high touch channels to proactively manage “fringe cases” for high value customers vs. low-touch digital ones.
In addition, make sure your information is reflecting the current situation. This includes understanding impacts to your customers in different regions. Use your data and AI to detect anomalies in customer behavior and view it in context of what you are learning in the news. And lastly, give more people in your organization access to information, so they can respond as quickly as possible.
- Retail — Leverage at-home store associates to address higher volume of chat requests e.g. home improvement question.
- Financial Services — Use video and virtual town halls, direct communications and documents to support consumers who have very specific questions about their money, which may overwhelm call center staff and are too specific for chat bots or Interactive Voice Response.
- Media & Entertainment — Assist content producers with standards and practices to help maintain continuity for production/editing, digital experiences, marketing collateral.
- Healthcare — Empower employees to meet customer demands, connect offline and online collaboration via call centers, testing, enrollment.
- Hi-Tech — Support remote workers with a single source of information and intuitive self-serve support for onboarding, technology ordering, and troubleshooting.
As the world responds to current events, every organization, public or private, is under pressure to openly and actively communicate with, engage, and guide their customers. These challenges are compounded by the need to reorient and maintain operations. We understand this well at Adobe, as we face these challenges alongside our communities of customers and partners. We are all in this together, and fortunately, we have tools and expertise to help you cover your bases so you can remain agile, flexible and adaptable. We recommend that you build your Customer Experience Management (CXM) Playbook with Adobe to help with current challenges and set a path for future success. The CXM Playbook addresses 6 areas of digital transformation critical to CXM success. Find it here.
Topics: Industry, Digital Transformation, News, COVID-19