The entire globe currently sits at a standstill as nations strategise how best to go about dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. The same could be said for business executives that look to understand and mitigate the risks of this pandemic on their companies. 

With the global economy quickly moving in a downward spiral, organisations now, more than ever, need to dig their heels in and consider the factors which they can still control. One of which is their CX strategy and how they can use these initiatives to further engage with their customers and employees. 


Decision Making in Critical Times

With Covid-19 being the most widely discussed topic at the moment, and with many countries in a state of lockdown with no certain end in sight, making decisions about the weeks and even months to come has become a rather difficult feat.

The COVID-19 virus has proved to be an ever-present threat that looms over the entire globe. As human beings, we are wired to focus on these threats as a means of survival, particularly in the face of adversity or uncertainty (Markam, 2020). Hence our relentless fixation on this virus. Individuals are, therefore, left in search of areas in their lives where they can reassert control, and ultimately prevention. This is where deliberate, rationalised and logical decision making comes in and often works best in conjunction with substantial data. 


Managing Your CX During a Crisis

Informed decision making becomes particularly important when assessing your CX strategy during a global crisis. It is easy for companies to get swept into the chaos and lose sight of their CX objectives. Especially as companies look to be the first to comment on COVID-19 content or attempt to remain relevant during this pandemic. We are all in ‘survival mode’ and this time is about prioritising what is important … and it isn’t toilet paper (Abbot, 2020). 

A common misconception is that companies will have to suspend their CX programs during this lockdown period. Those that choose to do this have since realised the detrimental effects that this has. This includes only further distancing and isolating your company from its customers. It is therefore crucial that companies recenter their attention back to their customers and making the shift (though temporary) from a growth mindset to a ‘retention’ mindset.

Now is the time to change the conversation from trying to get existing customers to buy more, but rather further showing them how they can get more value from what they have already invested in (Abbott, 2020). According to Abbot, it is essential that companies bear in mind that even their customers are changing – as we all have – in the face of a global downturn.


Looking to the future 

Furthermore, research and experts in the field (MaritzCX, 2020) advise that this is the perfect time to take the opportunity to look to the future. Since we have all been catapulted into a new dimension and way of working, it is time to think about the potential of the future. 

If we think of this time as a means of great opportunity and potential change and actively implement strategies that we only hoped for in ‘normal’ circumstances, what would that strategy look like? This is the time to follow through on these ideas. But remember, listening to what your customers have to say, and considering their needs forms an integral part of this plan and will be the best way to guide how you adapt your CX strategy, in conjunction with your own company goals. 


Communicating with your Customers

Communication strategies have since been adjusted following the nationwide lockdown, where face-to-face social interactions are no longer allowed. Communication with customers, therefore, needs to be fairly well thought out if it is to be well executed. 

It is in times like these where companies are differentiated – from their direct competitors – by the actions and steps that they have chosen to take in order to retain their customers. It can be easy to forget that your customers are also in a ‘state of emergency’. They too are going through a crisis, as such, how you handle this tough time and the decisions that your company makes will decipher whether or not your brand is able to establish true customer loyalty. 

Organisations need to ask themselves, ‘Are we communicating with our customers at all?”. If so, “are we doing so effectively and with meaning?”, and further ask the question, “are we, as an organisation, taking this situation seriously without feeding into the panic?” (Linville & Ratekin, 2020). 

When a crisis strikes, addressing the issue at hand is part of the first and most critical task, but it is closely followed by, or perhaps coupled with, communicating effectively with your customers and stakeholders (ZenDesk, 2018). Poor communication, on the other hand, can destroy the trust that you have worked so hard to establish with your customers (ZenDesk, 2018).

We suggest continuously showcasing empathy and care during this crisis. This will help your organisation build a foundation of goodwill. This will further establish a long-lasting emotional connection with the communities that your company serves which will in-turn build the customer’s loyalty (Dore et al, 2020).

It is also advised that you use both verbal and visual means of communication including short videos, text messages and informative emails that direct your customers back to your website. This is the best time to make use of the increased screen-times as individuals are still self-quarantining. 


Maintaining Employee Engagement During a Crisis

With the majority of organisations in South Africa being forced to close their doors and take up remote offices in their homes – having to invoke emergency ‘work-from-home’ policies, staying connected with your entire organisation and managing teams remotely is a new challenge within itself.

As with customers, having the right tech tools in place is essential, however, you do also need to have a plan in place to keep all employees engaged and focused on their work (Fallon, 2020). To help you keep operations running smoothly as you and your team navigate this “new normal,” we suggest employing the following tips to maintain employee engagements:

1. Keep people updated

It is important for successful remote-working that your team communication remains consistent and transparent. Make use of digital platforms, like Microsoft Teams and various other online software systems to ensure that all parties are well-informed and updated at all times.

2. Get everyone on video

With video conferencing tools like Zoom and Google Hangouts, it is easy to keep your regular meeting schedule. This face-to-face focus will also mimic much-needed social interactions.

3. Avoid micromanaging

As an employer or team leader, it is important that you do not micromanage your team. Building and displaying a culture of trust is essential during these unorthodox times and will further improve the work ethic and even working relationships that employees and employers have going forward.

4. Show your appreciation

Studies suggest that workers are less motivated by money and more by the acknowledgement of their ideas, suggestions and subsequent growth potential (Alcajan, 2020). With all the complexities surrounding remote working, having a supportive and encouraging leadership team will do wonders for your employees.


How to be a resilient leader in a global pandemic

Part of the responsibility of good leadership teams is to observe and identify the opportunities for improvement and further offer a helping hand to the employees who may be struggling. Engaging leaders produce engaged employees. By simply showing your team that you care, open for discussion and communication, and are there for them and treat them with respect and trust, you will encourage the same kind of behaviour within your team (Alcajan, 2020).

According to Renjen (2020), these are the fundamental qualities of a resilient leader:

  • Designing from the heart … and the head: Resilient leaders always remain empathic to their employees whilst simultaneously take a hard, rational line to protect the financial performance of the company.
  • Put the mission first: Resilient leaders are able to stabilise their organisations to meet the crisis at hand while still having the ability to find opportunities amidst difficult constraints.
  • Own the narrative: Resilient leaders seize the narrative at the outset by being transparent about current realities.
  • Embrace the long view: Resilient leaders stay focused on the horizon, anticipating the new business models that are likely to emerge and sparking the innovations that will define tomorrow.

Crises are unexpected and can wreak havoc on companies but having a plan in place to seamlessly communicate with customers and employees can make all the difference and turn a potentially chaotic situation into something that is calm, organised and with minimal impact. This starts with readjusting your CX program. 

Should your organisation need further assistance with re-strategising your CX initiatives, get in contact with the Genex team, where we will facilitate the entire process. 


  • Abbott, L., (2020). How to Retain Customers in a Time of Crisis: A CX To-Do List for SaaS Companies
  • Alcanja, D., (2020). Best Practices to Keep Your Remote Employees Engaged. Time Doctor.
  • Dore, F., Ehrlich, O., Malfara, D., & Ungerman, K., (2020). Connecting with Customers in a Time of Crisis. McKinsey. 
  • Fallon, N., (2020). Managing from Home? Here’s How to Keep Your Team Engaged During Coronavirus. U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
  • Linville, B. & Ratekin, M., (2020). Customer Experience in Times of Crisis: Covid-19. Confirmit.
  • MaritzCX (2020). Managing the Customer Experience in a Time of Crisis – EMEA
  • Markam, A., (2020). Slow down to Make Better Decisions in a Crisis. Harvard Business Review
  • Renjen, P., (2020). The Heart of Resilient Leadership: Responding to Covid-19. Deloitte Insights
  • ZenDesk., (2018). How to Manage Customer Satisfaction in a Crisis.

Download the white paper on How to Manage CX During a Global Crisis