Let’s face it: 2020 was a year like no other. Many of us are happily waving it goodbye, reminding it not to let the door hit it on its way out. But as excited as we may be to see the old year come to a close—and for a potentially close end to the deadly pandemic radically altering our world—it’s important to reflect on the ways this year may have changed our typical marketing, customer service, and business plans.
Take a look at your analytics. At this time of year, you’re probably used to looking back over the year and making numeric evaluations. Did you hit your goals? Did you see as much of a profit as you’d like? What did your cost of goods look like? It’s important to use your previous numbers in order to make goals going forward. But that’s harder than ever this year. Your year likely didn’t look how you’d envisioned—or if you did hit your numbers, you possibly hit them in a different way than you’d planned, like by pivoting to an online sales strategy.
It’s tempting to think that 2020 was a “wasted” year and that the analytics behind it don’t really matter. But in actuality, analytics matter more in 2020 than ever before. The past year’s numbers are vital to helping you understand how you can move forward with your company into a brand-new year. If you don’t look back in an effective way, it will be tricky to move forward, and it’s also essential to acknowledge ways your company did well and fell short during this difficult time.
How can you account for COVID in your customer service metrics?
Consider Your Individual Business
First, you need to take a look at how your particular industry did as a whole through the pandemic. If you’re in the travel industry, COVID was likely a constant challenge—many of your competitors may have even gone out of business. If you’re an online retailer who is used to very little or no in-person store traffic, perhaps you’ve seen a bit less of a change. Depending on the industry, you may have had more customers calling in than ever before, or you may have seen a pretty average number. But attempting to evaluate just how difficult things were for your business means taking a close look at the numbers. How far off from the end of 2019 are you—and how far off from your 2020 goal? Try to look at those analytics in light of how the rest of your industry seems to be doing.
Note Key Dates
Doesn’t it feel as if 2020 was one long slog? However, in January and February 2020, the country was not yet reacting to the upcoming virus. Make a timeline by mapping out key dates, like the time in mid-March when most of the country began to react; the 14 Days to Slow the Spread, when people were encouraged to isolate; and any factors that may affect your individual neighborhood (mask mandates, times when executive orders caused you to close, etc.). There may also be some days that affected your unique business (if you sell school supplies, for example, the day schools announced they were going virtual would be an important date for you). This can help you see how you did when things were slowly approaching some kind of normalcy and how long it took your business to effectively pivot. It can also help you understand why some statistics look less than great—like if you had an especially long call-waiting time on a day when a stay-at-home order was announced.
Create an Average Customer Experience
You may be used to doing this in non-COVID times, but doing it during the pandemic will be helpful, as well. Look at your “average customer” profile—how much did they spend? How did they interact with your company? How many times did they purchase with you? Creating an “average COVID customer” for 2020 will help you see how well your business was able to perform this year. Perhaps the average customer spend was down, but customers tended to order from you more often. That kind of information is very useful when trying to look at a bigger picture of your customer analytics.
Look at Where Things Went Well
Even in such a difficult year, there’s probably a place where things went better than you expected. Maybe your customer care numbers went through the roof because your employees went above and beyond for your clients during the pandemic. Maybe you gained a ton of new social media followers due to your pivot to an online marketing strategy. Maybe you cultivated some influencer relationships that will serve you well in 2021. Maybe you just stayed in business—that in and of itself is a major accomplishment! No matter your circumstance, try to find the bright spots in your 2020 analytics and celebrate them. Better yet, try and figure out how to replicate that success in the coming year.
Consider Quarterly Goals
Looking forward to 2021 goals, it may be tempting to make gigantic plans that will blow your 2020 numbers out of the water. But the unfortunate truth of the matter is that we have no real idea when this pandemic will be over. Even if a vaccine is soon available, it’s hard to say how many doses there will be or if it will work properly. It may be wise to make your goals focused on Q1 instead of the entire year. That way, if things majorly turn up in May, August, or October, you’ll still have plenty of room to adjust course. Remember, you want to strike a fine balance between goals being firm enough to have some staying power and flexible enough to actually be meaningful. Short-term goals are probably a better way to go in the uncertain times we’re currently inhabiting.