As all of us contend personally and professionally with the effects of a global health crisis, Metric Theory sought out stories that we can share with our community of marketers of how our clients are shifting their strategy in response. Like you, each is experiencing the current environment in a different way – surging or plummeting demand, supply chain disruption, messaging challenges, and more. We hope that by sharing these stories, you’ll find motivation, solidarity, and ideas for your own teams and brands as we all adapt to this time of great uncertainty. If you like this story, read more in this series.

Supporting brands like lululemon and Grubhub is nothing new for Five9, but the undertaking created by the coronavirus pandemic was, like all businesses, something you can’t really prepare for. With the onset of stay-in-place orders and the shuttering of non-essential businesses cascading through the US, suddenly their cloud contact center software was not just useful — it was urgently needed.

With the speed of change, businesses were in an impossible position. The number of people looking for answers from businesses of all shapes and sizes was higher than it had ever been, but contact center workers needed to stay home and healthy. “Our CEO set us on a mission to make customer service a more human experience,” says Paul Cowman, Sr. Director of Digital for Five9. “During times like these everyone has questions, and customers specifically need to talk to companies. Five9 has a product that can help customers and brands connect and get answers. That’s a real human need.”

Visitors to Five9’s website were presented with this message to highlight their FastTrack program.

That mission is something that guides Five9’s actions both for the businesses they serve and those businesses’ end customers. It’s what drove them to serendipitously schedule an all-staff work-from-home trial just before stay-in-place orders began cascading through the country. Knowing their product and their staff was ready, everyone steeled themselves for what was ahead.

The Five9 team has some experience with spikes in demand, helping customers prepare for events like healthcare open enrollment and Black Friday/Cyber Monday in retail. “We weren’t flying completely blind, but nothing matches this scale,” explained Michael Rose, Sr. Director of Brand & Corporate Communications at Five9. “We do this routinely, but now it’s all day, everyday.” The Five9 marketing and sales teams jumped into a Zoom call room, figuring out what product needed to do to support the surge, what messaging sales needed to deliver the right expectation and empathy to businesses, and how to scale the entire effort globally.

“There have been cases where the team has worked through the weekend to get a contact center stood up in 48 hours,” says Cowman. Five9 created a FastTrack Program late last year intended to solve rapid deployment needs for new customers, and he worked quickly to boost the visibility of that program on the website and in Five9’s marketing. “We knew people were looking for answers. We worked with Metric Theory to switch all our messaging to how Five9 could help you support your customers, to make sure your business isn’t disrupted.”

To be able to serve all the businesses in need, Cowman recalled, “We needed to skate where the puck was headed. We really leaned on Metric Theory for data on where things were going.” That included trending data that told Five9 what businesses were seeing load challenges that would precipitate surges in demand. “We saw a ramp up on food delivery, and then what was coming next was probably financial companies, and then staffing agencies.”

“The execution timelines immediately changed,” says Barbara Munin, Five9’s Account Lead for Metric Theory. “Launch timelines that would normally be weeks moved down to hours.” Metric Theory and Five9 both had to sacrifice process for speed, but the stakes for businesses in need made that an easy trade-off to tolerate. “Five9 operates performance marketing across geographies, time zones, industry verticals…big changes that happen this quick are a major challenge for everyone,” she continued. Five9’s Metric Theory team began reporting brand search data on a daily basis. “We’d never done a video call before, but now we’re always doing them. It’s been so huge to band together like this.”

Beyond pushing the business to the limit to take on the new demand, Five9 is looking for more ways they can help businesses in need. One of those ways is in sharing customer stories of how their businesses are changing and how they’re adapting, using their branded podcast “That’s Genius,” which Rose hosts. “We have five hundred people just in our customer service group, the largest in the industry” he says. “Those are all directly employed by Five9, too. We’re in a customer service industry, so we have an obligation to do everything we can right now.”

As for what has guided them over the worst of the pandemic while the team has stepped up to this unprecedented challenge, Rose says, “Marketers need to be authentic.” Cowman added, “You’ve got to listen to your customers, and be empathetic. It’s about filling gaps where people have needs and doing that in the most human way possible.”

You can read more stories and strategies on Marketing Through Uncertainty here.