Throughout this pandemic, businesses have been trying to get a handle on what the “new normal” needs to be for their customers’ experience today as well as tomorrow.
Add to this challenge the clear and present need for businesses to keep their customers and employees safe and healthy, while providing experiences which are in tune with a rapidly evolving landscape.
Unfortunately, the pre-pandemic customer experience tools and tactics – long surveys, interviews, complex journey mapping – are either too slow or simply unfeasible to administer given the current climate.
Businesses in the new normal world must revolutionise their industry by:
- Enabling new tools and new operations to be able to monitor, analyse, and improve customer experiences as they happen – in real-time.
- Providing customers with new, highly visible levels of comfort
- Giving customers new, unprecedented control over their own experiences
- And doing all this in a fast, innovative, always-learning, always-changing way
Businesses need to embrace the concept – now more than ever – that the time to improve a customer’s experience is while they are experiencing it! Surveys are helpful of course, but they do them far after the opportunity to make the current experience stellar has passed: it’s not real-time customer experience if it doesn’t help the customer in real time.
Collecting real-time feedback in a low friction manner while being accounting for the challenges posed by the pandemic e.g., understandable reluctance on part of respondents to touch things or spend more than a few seconds giving their opinion is the key to building an emotional connection with customers. However, collecting real-time feedback is just the start.
The next evolution in customer experience is to act on real-time feedback and improve the experience of that customer and others by addressing any concerns by making actual and immediate improvements to the overall operation.
Covid-19 has changed customers’ expectations and their behaviours. Instead of just showing up and experiencing what businesses offer, they’re probably for the first time consciously weighing in the health and economic cost of making a particular purchase.
Going above and beyond your competition is crucial now. For example, consider a typical grocery store experience today: just posting a sign that says ‘Please socially distance” or to have employees meter the queue into a store can simply feel like ‘COVID- theatre’ to your customers. What businesses need to do is deploy advanced systems automatically monitor and display the store traffic, gather customer feedback in a completely touchless manner, and alert employees to act on this information in real time, thereby demonstrating care and providing a level of comfort that customers are seeking.
Giving customers new levels of control is a hard thing to do – but very necessary. Covid-19 has introduced new anxieties, primarily driven by lack of control.
Control can certainly be given in direct ways, like a button that allows the customer to call for a table to be cleaned, or the check to be delivered. Control can be provided indirectly as well – anxiety from lack of control comes from a need for certainty in an uncertain situation. Therefore, control can also be provided by communicating more. The example of displaying when a particular area was cleaned – gives the customer the power to apply their own personal comfort level and see if an establishment meets their needs.
Just as software embraced agile development – a never ending cycle of design, test, learn, adjust, and iterate – businesses in the new normal must embrace agile customer experience. The customer obsessed companies that will survive and thrive in the pandemic and post-pandemic world will similarly be improving customers’ experiences individually and globally at blazing speeds every minute of every day.
We don’t know what the new post COVID world will look like, and if last few months have taught us one thing it’s that we are going through times of tremendous uncertainty and things can change on a very rapid clip. However, what we do know is that the businesses that will come out stronger from this will be the ones that re-engineer their processes and incorporate the input from the rapidly changing environment into their most critical operations.