Coronavirus had a significant impact on clients. Last months set many people on a digital journey to their… grocery shop. E-commerce competition grew rapidly and consumer behaviors changed in a blink of an eye. As a result customer experience will become key brand differentiator by the end of 2020. Are you wondering how to stay competitive in the new reality and make your customer experience stand out? Have a look on this puzzle – entrepreneurs, employees and clients.
Coronavirus impact on entrepreneurs
Among business owners there were cases of entrepreneurs who tried to make the most of this situation. Some did it in an unethical way – basing their activities and sales on fear. Their key motivation was to earn as much as possible as long as people still had money.
We also observed a sudden flood of experts. Those specialized in crisis and online business rarely carrying the experience of 2008. Others started offering ‘new’ services (i.e. rewriting CV) due to the assumed new customer needs.
On the other hand some were:
- carrying on with activities (sales and promotions),
- supporting front line, quite often linking this with a change of business profile or line (i.e. masks sewing),
- sharing ideas for spending time at home (DoubleTree by Hilton shared their famous chocolate chips recipe for the first time!),
- going online,
- looking for ways to overcome the situation (i.e. offered home delivery),
- setting cooperation with other brands (i.e. in pharmaceutical industry),
- facilitating services for reduced price or for free.
First three points turned out to be reactions that the clients perceived best. Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs had to close their businesses. And even despite government support (regardless of the country) won’t be able to reopen.
Coronavirus impact on employees
Especially those scenarios take our thoughts from business owners to the employees. And every employee plays an important role in building customer experience. Lock down, work from home and different family situations… All impacts mental and physical health.
There were employers who had to fight for their own survival and there were ones who took care of their people. Some initiatives could have been as simple as:
- keeping employees informed about company’s situation,
- allowing expenses for office supplies or furtniture,
- facilitating video meetings that improve bonding,
- involving employees in idea-generation for overcoming the crisis.
Current challenges prove how well the companies operated in reality. It’s company culture and customer-centric commitments verification. Usually when the company is consistent employees are more likely to provide additional support.
Coronavirus impact on customer experience
Recent weeks demonstrated that noticing human in an anonymous customer allows change. That kind of simple reflection is required to develop or increase empathy. And this is where the customer experience magic begins! Have a look on this article if you want to refresh what customer experience is.
Empathy towards clients could have been demonstrated in various ways. I hope everyone received at least one kind and caring newsletter.
Along with the newsletters clients started to be overwhelmed with sales campaigns. After this tremendous shift to online it affected social media as well.
But it’s more than ads. Now it’s about building communities as a way of building your potential customer portfolio. The feeling of belonging, being part of a group with the same interests decides about time allocation. From there sales is only one step ahead!
Changes in (digital) reality
It is possibly retail and gastronomy that changed the most so far. In response to social distancing and health considerations those sectors introduced:
- contactless payments,
- biometrics for delivery riders (China),
- hygine procedures (i.e. hand sanitizers by the entrance, shopping cart disinfection),
- Augmented Reality to try their products (i.e. IKEA and Converse; you may remember YouCam Makeup App from L’Oreal),
- own and dedicated applications,
- chat bots,
- extended return policies (consumer rights).
Digital experience became a condition for remaining competitive. Whatsmore, due to the high demand for online services and employees in key sectors (i.e. medical services), as customers we had to dive into self-service. Wherever it was possible new campaigns promoting such solutions went life (i.e. banking and medical services).
But in relation to the overwhelming number of offers it also became crucial to stand out in the crowd. That’s why responding to daily trends became more important than long-term planning. You will remember the time when everyone was baking bread all of the sudden?
Nevertheless, shopping in a physical shop turned out to be an attraction. Not only a way to satisfy basic needs. As a consequence of these new consumer behaviors, brick and mortar businesses will be developing its entertainment function. Taking into consideration that customers spend now less time at shops than before the pandemic, it’s a great opportunity to design post-pandemic customer experiences. Creating added value that will make them stay.
Beyond retail and gastronomy
Tourism is heavily affected. And this sector is very strongly linked with other industries, and a huge number of jobs. From cleaning services, transportation to catering and events. But there is solidarity. And only few weeks ago CEO’s of those companies claimed unfair treatment by Google in comparison to support offered to the education sector and demanded a revision.
Other solidarity behaviours also manifest themselves in cooperation aimed at introducing policies facilitating crisis communication with customers (due to cancellations, resignations). Though summer gives a hope. However, even despite the wave of domestic travels, at least a few more months are needed to make up for the losses. Coronavirus impact on customer experience will certainly be painful. Yet it is the most difficult to predict the consequences here.
In entertainment sector, wherever it was possible, virtual events were held (i.e. visiting a museum). Artists were giving their concerts online. Conferences used commodity of streaming services. However, a part from movies and gaming, up to what degree satisfying self-fulfillment needs compensates lack of physical presence?
Participation and presence are one of the most valuable elements in broad term of entertainment. To be precise – sensory experiences and engagement impact the perceived emotions. And these – about memories. Just think about the architecture of emotions in Disneyland.
Coronavirus impact on customer experience
Digitalization will be impacting personalization positively. In-person gathered data will be integrated with digital profiles and behaviors. It will be happening in analogy to the online analytics. Companies will be able to manage better their logistics and even the distribution of delivery centers.
On the other hand, some of the solutions or new laws may cause security concerns. For this reason cloud solutions for remote work aim to protect not only interests of the companies but also should prevent leak of personalized profiles.
As the integrations of online and offline worlds proceeds, there’s something more. An uncomfortable feeling of not being anonymous in physical space anymore. At least missing the still existing illusion.
For this reason, among other things, transparency in actions becomes extremely important for customers. It is a way to ensure a sense of security and build trust. What is more, with the multitude of digital solutions, transparency requires communication with customers. And thanks to it, we build relationships, which are primarily in customer experience. If that’s not enough, Forbes cites statistics indicating that this customer experience will be the key brand differentiator by the end of 2020. It will be more important than price or product quality.
How to easily improve customer experience these days?
- In case you have your own website check how it is performing on mobile. Google will index your website using this version. Nowadays it may cost you loss of customers. Up to 57% of Internet users declare they won’t recommend a business if their mobile website is poorly designed and slow.
- Update your Google Business. Make sure your opening hours and operating details are up to date across all social media.
- There’s a need for seamless and consistent experiences across different channels. Make your clients feel safe – planned communication is the key to success.
- Remember that there’s still a lot of customers looking for contactless services. Some could have developed new consumer behaviors (i.e. shopping online). Have a look if your product or service satisfy those needs.
- Observe current trends among your customers. Have a look on Facebook groups, read e-mails and comments. Discover Google Trends. Try to include burning needs in your plan. Pay attention to the change of preferences of your customers in relation to the communication channels.
- Pay attention how you customers’ preferences have changed in relation to communication channels. It’s possible they’re looking to speak to a person but there’s no phone number on your website. Or, they’re trying to send you an e-mail but there’s no way to find the address! Observe and adjust 🙂
Related news highlights:
- Google used Augmented Reality for users to be able to place 3D tiger in their living room while “Tiger King” was trending on Netflix.
- Instagram introduced new feature (stickers) in stories to support local businesses.
- Twitter announced that their employees will be allowed to work from home permanently. In fact it opens possibilities for employers (access to global workforce). On the other hand it questions the in-office employee experience.
- Uber announced reduction of their workforce and launched website with listing of their talented people that become available. The employees identify themselves with the company a lot. Despite losing their job the gratitude expressed for the time at Uber was huge.
I am curious what are your observations. What you will remember the most? Let me know in the comments or send me a message using your preferred communication channel. 😉