The 5 R’s of COVID-era Customer Care

You’re likely familiar with the concept of “React, Respond, Recover” as a framework for describing how businesses can successfully navigate and survive crises. As with so many things brought on by the current international pandemic, I find that model useful – but ready for some revision. If these past several months have taught me anything, it’s that “recovering” from a tough situation isn’t nearly enough. To ensure that your business, your employees, and your customers are set up to thrive in the post-crisis world, you’re going to need (at least) two more robust R’s. After reading John Aves’ recent article about why and how to approach CX strategy with a healthy reset mindset, I see practical wisdom in 5 R’s: React, Respond, Recover, Reset, and the Resilience to handle future crises more effectively than the last one.

Aves suggests that there are 5 critical steps to achieving the right reset. At the heart of all five, unsurprisingly, there is a total focus on customer-centricity. After all they’ve been through, consumers are weary, fatigued, and easily frustrated by poor service or a perceived lack of empathy. They’re also searching for a sense of connectedness. They want their brands – and the agents representing those brands – to be “local” to them. And they want reassurance that customer care agents have been hired and trained to deliver truly caring service and a superior experience.

You can read more here. At Skybridge Americas, we are committed to helping our clients achieve their brand mission by delivering superior experiences to their customers. If you would like to know more about how we can help you achieve your goals, please reach out. We would love to talk!

Planning for a post-pandemic future – why it’s time to push the CX reset button

By John Aves

Brands have now moved beyond the react and respond stages to recovery. For customer experience, let’s add a fourth stage here. Reset – because for every business the pandemic has rewritten customer experience in indelible ink. Even those brands that hard-wired a customer focus across the business years ago are working out how to decode what the CX future now looks like.

As Marketing Week says the Coronavirus outbreak ‘pushed customers to the brink financially, physically and mentally’. Businesses had to find solutions to the immediate and evolving needs of their customers whose behaviours and beliefs changed as quickly as the crisis deepened. Those brands with a CX vision came into their own during lockdown and were able to ‘… react quickly and meaningfully to the crisis. Many will no doubt become gold-standard case studies of an agile CX response in the future’.

But let’s get back to now. The scale and scope of behavioural change means that companies will need a robust transition plan to reset their customer experience to differentiate and thrive. The marketplace has changed forever and the ‘winners’ will be those companies that have the ability and the vision to get ahead of these changes. The status quo is not the route to market leadership.

CX: changing customer behaviour and new journeys

Out of necessity, changes in customer behaviour that can take years to influence took just days or months. Dyed-in-the wool beliefs that prevented consumers from trying alternatives quickly changed too. New customer journeys were formed and digital platforms were the first port of call. Research by Marketing Week and Econsultancy found that over half of marketers (53%) said that the pandemic had caused ‘radical’ or ‘significant’ changes to journeys. The change is regardless of the size of the business.

These changes will endure

McKinsey discovered that 75% of US consumers tried a new store, brand or different way of shopping during the pandemic. One of the headline findings was more than 50% of consumers believe they will stick with new brands and new digital journeys after the crisis. Research in April by Accenture adds depth to these findings. Its study found that new habits formed during lockdown ‘will endure beyond this crisis, permanently changing what we value, howand where we shop, and how we live and work’. Changed behaviours are likely to sustain. Accenture identifies three long-term trends that have been accelerated by the crisis:

  1. The ever-increasing focus on health– businesses will need to work out how they can support healthy lifestyles for consumers and employees.
  2. A rise in conscious consumption– brands will need to make sustainability and conscious shopping part of their offer.
  3. Growing love for local – consumers had to shop locally out of necessity during lockdown. The pandemic has accelerated the trend to buy locally to support smaller stores, local producers and growers. Businesses will need to work out how to customise their offering for local needs and connect with consumers through shared values.

Resetting CX – planning for now, planning for the future 

This major change will effect your CX design, and the way you evolve, communicate and deliver the experiences your customers want and need. You’ll need to push the CX reset button.

Change like this requires people throughout the business – at all levels from leadership to the frontine – to be equipped to deliver a new and different experience to customers. The changes are so profound and the stakes are so high that businesses need to reconsider their operating models. This requires a cross-business, integrated perspective and not a siloed, function by function, response.

Here are five key steps to consider in the redesign of your CX

#1 Use behavioural science to revisit and better understand new customer beliefs and expectations

What do we mean by behavioural science?

Put simply it’s understanding why people make the decisions they do. With such a seismic shift in customer behaviour, applying behavioural science to your experience and using insights to influence and shape this behaviour is crucial to designing and delivering renewed CX in the wake of the crisis. You”ll need to understand these changing behaviours to be able to position your offering.

As McKinsey asserts, many longer term changes in consumer behaviour are still forming, so companies have an opportunity to shape the new normal. The stickiness of this behaviour change will be dependent on customers’ reaction to new experiences. This is just one factor that will influence the strength and pace of behavioural change, according to McKinsey. Country, consumer segment and values are also important factors. Habits that were accelerated will also be stickier than new habits.

Understanding new and emerging behaviour

Companies will need to get even closer to customers – and the data they have on those customers– to fully understand the factors shaping customer attitudes and behaviour. Understanding customers and giving them what they want and need will be key to growth. Those organisations with robust VOC processes and strong data analytic capabilities will have an edge.

Many of the entries on Marketing Week’s newly compiled CX50 list features projects that executives spearheaded to help customers get through the crisis. There was also another stand out commonality among these leaders. Many of the executives were also driving business integrations long before the outbreak and had an integrated approach to data and cross-silo collaboration.

Read the entire article here >

-Bobby Matthews

Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing
Skybridge Americas

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