Last weekend I visited my favorite bookstore. There was a newly installed huge signboard at the entrance, declaring how they had the massive store squeaky-sanitized. The recently reopened store was busy but not even half full.
The sign wasn’t the only thing different about the place. As part of the new precautions to keep the bookstore a safe place, they had banned browsing. Strictly.
So, there were no more comfy seats and couches spread around the place where booklovers could browse their favorite selections and read a page or two. I left the store way sooner than I’d usually have, as my legs ached, and it wasn’t much fun strolling around when there was no option to pick an inviting book from the aisle and sit down to skim through it. It’s foolish to expect that nothing will be different, I know, but I did miss the experience.
And so have customers everywhere.
Customer experience is broken in the Active-COVID world, and unfortunately, gluing it back together is out of the businesses’ hands. Options are narrow. COVID is crippling many businesses, but we can’t just let it be, huh?
How to improve customer experience during COVID times?
Now that humanity at large is learning to coexist with the virus, businesses must find new norms and set fresh standards to provide an enjoyable experience to their customers without risking anyone’s wellbeing. Tough, but doable.
Conventional methods of engaging customers have encountered a roadblock during these times, and customer preferences have taken a 180° turn too. Desperate times need well-thought-out measures, and we have some helpful pointers for businesses seeking a nicer customer experience.
First, do what you have always done (or were supposed to do)
Got to set the basics right, people. Your customers know and appreciate your efforts to make their experience with you a pleasurable one, so you don’t have to try too hard.
Which is why listening to your customers is a great idea always. Discover customer problems, identify the gaps in their experience, and help them help you. Listen to your customer and take measures to resolve the areas that are drying up. Close the loop, each time.
Mirror your customers’ voice, uphold their expectations
Case on point. Brands are increasingly speaking up against racism in light of the recent events. It is no longer acceptable that corporates remain neutral or silent at times of conflict and be passive when something so regrettable happens. Customers take note of how brands respond, and the brand tone can make or break a lasting impression.
A recent survey reported that younger consumers surveyed are 3.2 times more likely to suggest that the movement is going to change their purchase behaviors in the future. As more and more people expect their favorite companies to make a positive contribution to society, it’s safe to conclude that consumer behavior drives brand activism.
You can never listen to your customers too much. Live up to their expectations and endorse the brand personality your customers wish for you to have.
Ensure your priorities are right. Nothing over people
Your customers, employees, the society at large… there’s never been a better time than now to prove that you care. People are suffering, and the world needs heroes. Make yourself one- not for the PR benefit, but because it’s the right thing to do
Explore ways how you can do your business without risking the wellbeing of anyone or anything you ought to care for. Earn the trust of your audience by offering support when everything else is uncertain and overwhelming. A lot of organizations are leading the way with genuine and real solutions that can help their customers and employees alike. Giveaways, CSR, and some special deals can help you build relationships with your people that can easily outlast the pandemic.
While at it, let’s not forget the planet too. As it is, images and reports of the planet suffering in the aftermath of COVID-care fill the social media feeds. A glut of coronavirus waste such as single-use masks and disposable gloves is littering the seabed as we speak. Discover workarounds that wouldn’t have any catch so we can plot for a nicer post-COVID world.
Be proactive in customer engagement
If one thing this pandemic has taught us, it is how empathetic most people are. Businesses shouldn’t stick out like a sore thumb by the lack of empathy map in communications. As this article on Forbes points out, customer experience during the pandemic has a rather obvious baseline: empathetic engagement.
It won’t be easy to restructure the existing customer journey you had painstakingly put in place in the pre-COVID universe. But if adapting it is what you ought to do, then that is precisely how you should go about it.
Bring in a human factor at all customer touchpoints and be humane. Already, companies in tech have been stepping up to the task by investing in technology to add robustness, speed, and agility future disruptors. Harvard Business Review urges businesses to stay present to what is happening now rather than worrying about what may happen to your business in the future. No one claims it is easy, but if past experience is anything to go by, people will remember the kind brands and want to reciprocate.
Plan CX strategies for the Post-COVID world
At some point, the COVID will be gone for good. But the changed consumer habits are more likely to stay. Already, a 55 percent increase has been noted in consumers intending to permanently shift to online grocery shopping.
Companies should take note of the ‘new-normal’ tendencies and plan accordingly. There is no better time than now to invest in some quality customer experience. However, that is not to mean that you should treat the pandemic as a Sales opportunity. Instead, this is a bonus time to experiment with customer relationship building and management.
Keep your customers at the center of everything you do and offer them meaningful real, value solutions. If you do it right, you can emerge from this crisis as a trusted, reliable brand worth doing business with. What more can we need!
Start following your customer’s journey.
QuestionPro offers some of the most advanced customer experience tools available. Gain valuable insights into your customers’ thoughts and feelings using QuestionPro CX today.