The COVID-19 pandemic has created an environment that is, in many ways, counterintuitive to the customer experience as a whole. Clients are no longer taking in-person meetings and are reducing their spending due to financial hardships, while sales teams are forced to think outside the box and adapt to new working conditions. During times like these, it is more important than ever for business leaders to effectively support their teams, offering the inspiration and guidance needed to stay positive while also providing the tools and framework necessary to connect with customers or consumers.

The Importance of Strong Leadership

In times of crisis, business leaders must leverage their emotional intelligence to effectively guide their team to success. Emotional intelligence is all about managing our own emotions while meaningfully connecting with those around us. It can be divided into four main elements:

  • Self-Awareness: The awareness of your emotions and reactions to a given situation.
  • Self-Management: The ability to manage your emotions in a healthy and productive way.
  • Social Awareness: Your capacity for empathy and ability to connect with others.
  • Relationship Management: Your ability to influence, coach, and mentor others.

No matter the situation, your team looks to you for guidance. This is why emotional intelligence is so important: even if you are in the middle of a crisis, if people see that you’re calm, they will stay calm too. As such, it is essential to be conscious of how you react to the current situation, and most importantly, not be “tone deaf” to what others around you are saying, as it is a significant influence on those around you.

The Advantage of Digital Tools

Following the immediate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses saw their digital transformation plans kicked into overdrive as they aimed to stay competitive during the most significant business disruption of recent history. However, many companies are now cutting their spending altogether, including their digital transformation budgets.

Understandably, businesses are reducing spending during the recession, with 52% of HR leaders claiming their organizations will continue to operate at reduced levels due to the pandemic. Yet, we mustn’t sacrifice innovation for the sake of keeping things “safe.” The wide range of digital tools now at our disposal were essential for recovering from the short-term effects of COVID-19, and with customer engagement and productivity being more crucial than ever right now, these tools are necessary for our success going forward as well.

The Value of Agility

One of the key benefits of the new digital tools we’ve steadily adopted during the COVID-19 crisis has been a renewed sense of agility and adaptability. Something that’s become apparent is that more companies need to have systems in place to guarantee that CX isn’t disrupted, even during unforeseen disruptions. To achieve this, agility isn’t just beneficial, it’s necessary.

For those looking to adapt an agile approach to CX, the NICE Customer Experience Framework is generally the best option. Highly adaptable and entirely cloud-based, it allows businesses to meet sudden changes in business demands while providing a high-quality omnichannel experience. The NICE platform is defined by three key pillars:

  • Agile Service: Flexible customer service delivered through a cloud-native CX platform.
  • Agile Workforce: The people behind the customer experience, the NICE platform empowers them by motivating, rewarding, and engaging them in their duties.
  • Agile Insights: The data-driven guidance that makes agile CX possible, offering the means to gather and analyze all available information to make better decisions.

The Unforeseen Impact of the Crisis

While it’s easy to focus on the immediate effects of the COVID-19 crisis, it is worth remembering that we still don’t truly know what a post-COVID world will look like. Something that many experts have pointed out is that, during times of great crisis, society as a whole tends to undergo massive changes. However, many of these changes were difficult to anticipate in the moment that they occurred. Similarly, it’s hard to say what the long term impact of the pandemic will be, but it is evident that even when it ends, we won’t simply be returning to “normal”

That said, it’s the business leaders who know there is not a “normal” to return to, or who will ultimately succeed. They are the ones who will have the foresight necessary to pivot, innovate, and transform in the face of this disruption, making the most of the opportunities that have presented themselves. Things will likely never be the same again, so rather than run from these changes, we need to embrace them and guide our teams with confidence and purpose.