I originally wrote today’s post for CCW Digital. It appeared on their site on March 18, 2020. I’ve updated it to reflect some things we’ve seen and learned since then.

Employee experience and customer experience are always important, but how brands approach them – how they demonstrate that they are all about people first – during times of uncertainty can really showcase who the people-centric brands are.

Communication is one of the most important things to get right – always, crisis or not. I often say that communications are the most-overlooked parts of the customer experience and employee experience. That needs to change. Communications must be open, candid, transparent, timely, relevant, personalized, and consistent.

At no time is this more critical than during a crisis or during a time of uncertainty. Many brands are reaching out to let customers know what they are doing to keep them safe from the coronavirus. My inbox is full of messages from almost every brand imaginable, including brands I’ve never heard from or those I’ve never interacted with. (Not all of it is really necessary. See this Fast Company article for some additional insights.) The content is all very similar but spun for the particular product or service they sell. For example, a few days ago, I received the following message (this is just a snippet of the message) from a spa that I regularly frequent:

Combined with our daily thorough cleanings and sanitation practices we are utilizing a hospital grade disinfectant cleaner that kills 99.99% of bacteria, viruses and fungus. Our Team is diligently and frequently disinfecting high-touch surfaces and common areas throughout the day.

For Example: Lockers inside and out, locker keys, spa sandals, pens, door handles, showers, locker rooms, restrooms, light switches, countertops, faucets/handles, handrails, treatment tables, face cradles, hot towel cabis, facial equipment, product bottles within the treatment room, quiet room furniture and all hard surfaces.

I’ve seen similar messages from airlines and hotels. This might shock you, but for every business that sends messages like this, just stop. Why? The first question customers ask is, “Why aren’t you already doing these things to protect customers and employees?”

I think it’s a fair question.

I hope that some permanent outcomes as a result of the current situation include expanded business processes and policies that help to protect employees and customers and become the new norm, that stupid and outdated policies are updated or killed, that leaders view the experience for employees and customers differently, that employees continue to be put more first, and that they see that change is hard but doable! Look what some companies accomplished in a few short weeks (days)!

It is not enough to show people how to live better: there is a mandate for any group with enormous powers of communication to show people how to be better. -Marya Mannes

Annette Franz is an internationally recognized customer experience thought leader, coach, speaker, and author. She recently published her first book, Customer Understanding: Three Ways to Put the “Customer” in Customer Experience (and at the Heart of Your Business); it’s available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats. Sign up for our newsletter for updates, insights, and other great content that you can use to up your CX game.

Image courtesy of Pixabay.