When COVID-19 hit, the world seemed to stop. But for those of us in the diagnostics industry, staying in the safety of our homes wasn’t an option. Our customers—laboratories across the world—were crumbling under the immense pressure of the pandemic. In the course of days, sometimes hours, labs were backlogged with hundreds of tests needing immediate results. Analyzers and lab instruments were running 24/7, testing their limits, taxing their systems, and adding additional worry to the dedicated teams seemingly living at the labs.
The way we were used to interacting with our customers was immediately forced to change—perhaps even for the better.
No Longer About Selling
While many companies were losing business or working at lightning speed to prevent customer loss, some companies were not only keeping their current customers, but growing their business. The most successful companies radically shifted their behaviors to deliver differently to meet the needs of their customers.
For my company, Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, that meant shifting all of our resources to support our customers remotely and quickly innovating to find ways to keep labs up and running during the most challenging days and nights they ever experienced. Customer experience became more than a core value or key offering; it became the lifeblood of our company, and we in turn became a critical part of our customer’s pandemic response.
Even though laboratories were in desperate need of analyzers and tests, both of which my company manufactured, the goal wasn’t about selling products or launching aggressive marketing campaigns—it truly was about making meaningful connections and doing all we could to support our customers so they could serve their communities. Connecting with them at this very basic human level, bonded by a spirit of wanting to help end this devastating pandemic and do our part to improve testing, set us apart from companies who were aggressively reaching out or preying on vulnerable times to turn a profit, led to a higher level of trust, and helped cement relationships.
We can take invaluable lessons from this experience to ensure an elevated customer experience moving forward.
- Know when to sell and when to listen: Not being aggressive in pushing solutions or enhancements built trust and enabled our customers to feel valued and listened to.
- Think and act faster: The pandemic forced us to quickly roll out solutions and service offerings that benefited our customers. Rather than working in waves to pilot something new, then introduce it slowly, we had to quickly pivot. Getting customer feedback in real-time in a real-world setting was invaluable and helped us hone our offerings.
- Don’t be afraid to flex: Be flexible that is. We were all forced to learn together—customers and companies. Understand and respect your customers’ comfort levels, but build trust by encouraging new ways of working together. It may be as simple as trying a Zoom meeting, but it could lead to something larger in the future.