For months, Americans have been adapting their consumer behaviors to accommodate the restrictions brought on by the pandemic.
And, not surprisingly, they’ve learned a lot of lessons along the way. Turns out, some brands have made it easier than others. Some brands have risen to the challenge and demonstrated exquisite levels of customer care. As a result, a growing number of consumers say they no longer intend to return to their “pre-COVID” shopping habits.
Kelly Ungerman, a senior partner with McKinsey & Company, identifies these shifts in behavior and other key findings from their ongoing consumer sentiment studies and points to 4 critical customer experience practices that can help brands “meet customers where they are” and thrive in a post-COVID market.
As I read her take on the situation, the message that leapt out at me most was how today’s customers yearn for ways to access human care and connectedness – but from the safety and convenience of home. You can read her article here.
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Key to retailers’ success post-COVID-19: 4 necessary customer experience practices
by Kelly Ungerman
In just a few months, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has overwhelmed lives and livelihoods around the globe. According to McKinsey & Company’s latest US Consumer Sentiment survey, conducted from July 7-12, 2020 of 1,923 adults, only a third of U.S. consumers are optimistic about an economic recovery in the next two-to-three months, with most Americans believing the economy will be impacted for more than six months.
In addition, just under half (41%) of consumers reported a reduction in spending in the last two weeks, and looking ahead, 28% of consumers say they will reduce their spending over the next two weeks.
“This new normal” has forced a rethinking of what customer care means. Suddenly, examinations of customer decision journeys and satisfaction metrics to inform what customers want, have given way to an acute urgency to address what they need.
Particularly in times of crisis, a customer’s interaction with a company can trigger an immediate and lingering effect on his or her sense of trust and loyalty. Millions have been furloughed and have retreated into isolation. Now, with economies starting to re-open, consumers have real concerns about safety and stability. A primary barometer of their customer experience will be how the businesses they frequent and depend upon deliver experiences and service that meets their new needs with empathy and care.
Now is also the time for customer experience leaders to position themselves at the forefront of the longer-term shifts in consumer behavior that result from this crisis. Keeping a real-time pulse on changing customer preferences and rapidly innovating to redesign journeys that matter to a very different context will be key.
With this in mind, following are four customer experience practices that can frame short-term responses, build resilience, and prepare retailers for success in the days after COVID-19:
1. Focus on fundamentals: Connect and care
Now more than ever, people need extra information, guidance, and support to navigate a novel set of challenges. They want a resource they can trust, that can make them feel safe when everything seems uncertain, and that offers support when there are so many unknowns. A baseline starting point: staying true to company values and purpose.
Our research shows that 64% of customers choose to buy from socially responsible brands, a figure that has grown significantly in the past two years, according to Edelman. The way retailers step up to play this role for their customers, their employees, and the broader community is likely to leave lasting impressions in customers’ minds.
Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing
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