Customer Experience and COVID-19; Catching our Breath

Consumer behavior has changed forever, on that point almost everyone agrees. Brands are being forced to adapt their marketing and touch points real time. We first saw this with the messaging from nearly every company that had some version of “it’s going to be okay”, “we are all in this together”, “let’s stay strong and healthy at home”, “Stay six feet apart”, “these are unprecedented times” … etc. etc.. These messages made a lot of sense because that was about all companies could say due to all the fear, uncertainty, melancholy, and even anger that surrounded our “new normal” with COVID-19.  But companies did (and still do) need to take action, and not just pay the new normal lip service.

 

For agile, adaptive companies, we quickly saw the reintroduction of various omni-channel capabilities that, whatever their level of maturity, were being rolled out and promoted as the only way to conduct business under quarantine.

 

Companies like Best Buy and other large retailers were hugely impacted by the loss of foot traffic but were still open for business due to existing omni-channel capabilities. We saw banks close their lobbies but remain open through digital capabilities like remote deposits and online banking.  These companies were fortunate to have made investments in omni-channel and digital capabilities over the past few years. Others like the local pizza shop and mom-and-pop bakery were scrambling to enable online take-out orders while we do our best to support them and hope they make it through the next few months.

 

So now that we’ve had a moment to catch our breath, what are the game changers that Covid-19 forced us to adopt and will impact us going forward?

 

Consumer Behaviors / Expectations – This pandemic has forever changed how consumers expect to interact with companies. A new expectation of safe and clean is now a core value that companies are required to adopt. If customers were not already a bit germophobic, they are now! Nearly every company will need to continually convince its customers that doing business is safe and will not promote illness of any kind, let alone COVID-19. In addition, all self-service, digital, and omni-channel efforts will take center stage as the social distancing requirements override any in-person product and service delivery.

 

Company Communications and Measurement – Marketing messages are changing by the day. This rapid amount of change has the communications team undoubtedly working overtime. Every company should be placing measurement programs in place to understand the effectiveness of new marketing, communications, and experiences being put in place. Without measurement, it is impossible to know if the shifts in communications are resonating with customers and will help drive long term loyalty, or missing the mark and alienating them.

 

Employee Experience – Work as we know it will never be quite the same and the pandemic will fundamentally change how companies do business in the future. The employee experience has been significantly impacted with furloughs, salary reductions, and remote work environments. Executive leaders have reacted to the revenue impacts, but we need to now plan for the future culture of the business. For CX leaders, it is time for a Customer and Employee Experience program refresh–both near term and long term. This includes the broad range of efforts including adopting employee friendly scheduling practices, enabling a new culture that addresses a remote workforce, and the enacting updated employee satisfaction measures that fully take the pulse of employee experience and engagement.

 

Despite these enormous changes, we know that with great change comes great opportunity.  We intend to be your partner as you work through what’s next.  Certainly, there is a lot to unpack and analyze, along with a mountain of decisions to be made.  Over the next few months, we will be taking a closer look at many of these challenges that will be important to you as you reassess your business strategies, marketing direction, and operating model. The topics may change as the situation is and will remain fluid, but we would like you to stay connected with us as we continue to provide more insights and advice through these posts.

Dan Arthur
Dan Arthur

Dan is VP Customer Research and Analytics with Andrew Reise Consulting and has over 16 years of consulting experience in the Telecommunications and Health Insurance industry verticals. His specific expertise includes customer and employee experience strategy, consumer insights research / analysis, CX design, CX capability analysis, call center transformation, billing system implementations and sales / customer service operations.

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