Original article can be found here (source): Artificial Intelligence on Medium
How Are Your Customers Feeling About Coronavirus / COVID-19?
Over the past few weeks, retailers and e-commerce brands are now facing massive challenges to adapt to the new environment created by social distancing due to the COVID-19 / novel coronavirus outbreak. Companies are looking at their customer data to understand the changing needs of their customers and how to best position themselves for the changes ahead. How can brands stand out from the crowd when over 20% of the U.S. population is locked down?
Here at Chatdesk, we’ve been in contact with many companies, because they are using Chatdesk Trends — It allows them to swiftly analyze their customer feedback from multiple channels like email, chat, social media, reviews, and surveys in real-time around trending topics like the coronavirus outbreak. Chatdesk Trends enables marketers, operation managers, and customer success specialists to prepare for what’s coming next from their customer base using the granular analysis it provides.
As part of our efforts to help our customers succeed in these difficult times, we’re helping them take action on the new data coming in. We’ve also taken a broader look across all of the data from different industries. We found some key insights that marketers, operations managers, and customer success specialists can act on in the coming days ahead. We found six major trends:
6 Top Trends About COVID-19/Coronavirus In Customer Support Feedback
Here are the top themes companies are seeing and how they’re taking action.
1) Trending Products
2) Cancellation and Refunds
3) Extended Return Windows
4) Shipping Delays
5) Address Changes
1. Trending Products
As part of the move towards social distancing, most people are now either stuck at home or preparing to be stuck at home over an unknown, extended period. Social distancing is also causing consumers to spend more time with their families, roommates and other loved ones. This is causing a major shift in consumer buying patterns as they fill their homes with what they think of as necessities. Consumers are asking presales questions about buying essentials in bulk as well as ordering items that will make their home as safe, healthy, comfortable, and fun as possible.
Can you make a coronavirus toy?? Lol make our dogs the heroes that defeated the virus – Debra, March 17
With the coronavirus pandemic happening…this [food subscription service] is a great option when food supplies at the grocery stores are now scarce! – Samantha, March 17
I found your probiotic and thought it would be a good addition during all of this to help my immune system – Brenda, March 17
Just wondering if we need to stock up. Looks like this crazy virus is about to lock the world down !? – Jim, March 17
Suggested Actions To Drive Revenue
Determine your essential and trending products and promote them clearly on your homepage and other channels (e.g. email blast). Here are some examples we’ve seen
- A company in the Cannabis industry is seeing a spike in rubbing alcohol
(which can be used to make hand sanitizer)
- Furniture brands are seeing sales increases in home office furniture and recreational equipment like playground sets to keep the kids active
Offer bulk bundles to encourage customers to purchase more
Update your marketing messages for your products to reposition them as essential and helpful for life at home. For example, we’re now seeing fashion brands promoting more “comfy” items to wear at home.
2. Cancellation and Refunds
A large chunk of the population is on unpaid leave, furlough, or have lost their jobs due to entire industries, like hotels, bars, restaurants, and entertainment, shutting down to prevent the spread of COVID-19/novel coronavirus. This is making consumers nervous: they’re expecting a downturn in the economy, and are tightening their belts. As a result, we’ve seen an increase of tickets around canceling orders and subscriptions by consumers while they reevaluate their budgets. Note: Some of this behavior may change once Congress passes various aid packages to support businesses and consumers.
I love the product, but I was recently laid off due to covid and I am trying to tighten my budget. – Elena, March 17
Due to the concerns with Covid19 I am currently cutting as many subscriptions plans that I have to conserve funds during this time – CJ, March 17
The event was cancelled due to the virus and I was hoping to get a refund – Nate, March 17
I work in the hospitality industry, and due to COVID19 we are having a drop in travel activity which mean a drop in work hours so I was wondering if there is a function for me to pause my subscription – Bailey, March 16
Suggested Actions To Preserve Loyalty and Cash Flow
- Give customers the option of receiving store credit or a voucher as an alternative to a full refund if your stated return policies allow this. Consumers understand that businesses are hurting and many of them are happy to support the businesses through this time.
- Have a clear cancellation and refund policy in your customer support FAQs
- This might be a good time to A/B test your pricing because some customers might still be open to purchasing at a lower price
- For subscription products, offer to downgrade or pause subscriptions
- Ask your customers to maintain your relationship with them even as they cancel, because this economic slowdown is not permanent (e.g. keep their accounts open, stay subscribed to the mailing list and ask them to follow on social channels)
3. Extended Return Windows
People’s lives and routines are becoming upended as they start sheltering at home to prevent the spread of the virus. Consumers are limiting errands, preventing them from heading to a store (if opened) or post office to process returns. As a result, they are now asking a lot of questions about how returns and exchanges work from their homes.
I obviously don’t want to leave the house right now if I don’t have to because of the coronavirus, and don’t have a printer to print a return label! – Ashley, March 20
It’s been a few days past the required 30 days since it was shipped but in light of the all the craziness with COVID-19, I didn’t get it out in time – Anne, March 17
I need to return the jeans from this order but am in “shelter in place” because of COVID-19 until at least April 7 so I can’t leave my home unless it’s for essentials. – Sandra, March 17
Suggested Actions To Take
- Extend return windows (e.g. from 30 days to 60 days or longer)
- Clearly explain how items can be returned safely from their home in your FAQ
- Add a special section to your return flow to explain how to safely ship back products
4. Shipping Delays
Pictures of empty shelves and reports of shortages by the media are inundating consumers. Customers are becoming worried that products will be delayed or unavailable because of disruptions in the supply chain when they need them the most.
I found that my shipping status hasn’t been updated since Feb 24, on the website it shows that it hasn’t even passed the U.S customs, I was wondering is it because of the current situation of corona virus that my package was delayed or even cannot ship from to the US? – Sam, March 14
Please ship this ASAP if possible — stranded in Chicago during Corona quarantine and need clothes! – Chris, March 17
Suggested Actions To Reduce Support Contacts and Tickets
- Send proactive emails and text messages to customers with updates about any order disruptions. Reassure them that their favorite products will be available, even if it takes somewhat longer for them to receive them.
Add a special section to your check out flow, help center, and shipping FAQs to address any updates related to COVID-19 / novel coronavirus
- Provide self-service tools for customers to check their order status
5. Address Changes
Previously, many people received their e-commerce orders at their offices, because someone was available to receive them. Now, consumers want to receive packages at home, because they are no longer allowed to go to work at their offices as part of our collective effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 / novel coronavirus. As a result, we’re seeing an increase in tickets requesting help with address changes.
Tomorrow will be my last day at the office until I start working from home (due to COVID-19) — do you have any way to ensure it gets delivered tomorrow or reroute to my home address? – Mary, March 10
I’ve been restricted from flying due to corona virus as a precaution and won’t be in NY to receive this – Jessica, March 9
Suggested Actions To Take
- Send proactive emails and text messages to confirm their shipping addresses before shipping a product
- As part of the check-out flow, proactively ask customers to double-check their shipping address if it is not the same as the billing address
- Provide self-service tools for customers to update their addresses
- Make sure your FAQ has a section on how to change your shipping address
Due to reports that aerosolized novel coronavirus/COVID-19 can survive on some surfaces for up to three days, consumers are becoming anxious that their products could become contaminated with the virus and infect them. Further, customers are concerned that their delivery person can become infected because they are being exposed to so many people.
I have no desire to have a product shipped from China when there is an outbreak of the coronavirus – Larry, January 26
I want assurances given Covid 19 virus that sellers and delivery personnel are in good health – Debby, March 17
So what happens when the person cooking my food is sick with coronavirus but not showing signs but shedding virus and preps my food and then sent to my house – Jeffrey, March 17
Suggested Actions to Take
- Contact your shipping providers to understand how they are mitigating the spread of novel coronavirus/COVID-19
- Email your customers and explain your processes to protect customers from infection.
- Add a special section to your help center to address your processes and precautions for COVID-19
- Ensure that the support team has template responses when questions arise
We plan on updating this post and creating followup-ups as trends change. We realize that planning how to support your customers in the face of a pandemic is unprecedented. If you have questions, let us know — we want to help you by providing you with the best possible data and customer support using Chatdesk software and tools. You can email us at email@example.com
Retailers and e-commerce brands around the world use Chatdesk software and machine learning tools to manage customer support costs, increase customer loyalty and drive sales. Do you want to analyze customer feedback for your brand?