Today, I would like to give a thought to Customer Experience in times of COVID-19. The objective of this post is not to delve into the concept of Customer Experience, as there is already too much information on it. I’d rather prefer to analyze the circumstances the world is going through and how the concept of CustomerExperience has taken a key role, based on the premise #stayhome.
Most of us are in voluntary or compulsory isolation, which means, managing a large part of daily routines through digital channels, such as, communicating with our beloved ones, studying, working, entertaining, etc. You may be thinking: “true, but that is relatively normal for me”. Even though, this may be usual for many of us, we must also accept that this context has increased and amplified our usage of digital channels. For sure, none of us used to celebrate their birthday via Zoom. Don’t you think?
The unprecedented increase in the adoption of digital channels, means, that people with different levels of digital adoption must now engage with it. This situation results, in much more interactions and, specifically, referring to our business an even larger audience to reach. Hence, we are facing different levels of digital adoption, in which, there are users who have joined recently the digital world, while others, may have some fears when it comes to carrying out transactions or performing other sort of tasks. Obviously, we can find those who consume a lot of digital media and feel represented by the younger generations. This turn of events, has certainly provided food for thought, it inspired me to evaluate where are we now in terms of CustomerExperience and digital embracing.
In order to keep our business running and even, successful, it is extremely important to provide a good service to all users regardless of their level of digital adoption. However, let’s be clear on this, it does not mean that we should treat all our customers equally. On the contrary, it means, understanding and assisting each of them as a way to increase our conversion rates.
On the other hand, a wide range of businesses, from small ventures to large stores, had to adapt to this reality as fast as they could. They had been forced to hit the ground running to get their business into digital and learn all along the way. In fact, we can now state, that COVID-19 has been the greatest booster on promoting digital transformation, from e-commerce platforms to social networks, everything is valid when it comes to bringing products and/or services closer to customers. However, it is worth asking ourselves, are we ready for it?
Not only us have gone into the digital world to offer our products and/or services, our competitors have done the same. The big question is: why should clients, or potential clients, choose our business over other ones? Where does the key differentiator lies?
This crisis has affected not only our business, but also the business of our competitors. In this context, our level of digital readiness and maturity will be crucial, for two simple reasons. First, we need our business to keep afloat, but above all, we need to continue adapting to what will come after the pandemic, thinking on a world that will be more digital and globalized than ever before.
I had read some posts that questioned whether investment in digital transformation should be prioritized in times when it is uncertain for any company to know if they will be able to survive this crisis. Certainly, the absolute priority must lie on subsistence, but once we assure the subsistence of the business we must begin to work in a digital plan, otherwise we will not subsist to the “new normality”. Maybe, the question now should be, why is digital transformation so important? The answer is simple, the “normal” of today will not be the “normal” of tomorrow. We will no longer be the same, we will not consume the same things or either in the same way and beyond the fact that this situation bears major challenges, it entails many opportunities too. We need to forge stronger ties for the post-COVID-19 era than ever.
Now you may wonder, what does all this have to do with Customer Experience? Well, it is a differentiating factor.
The Customer Experience has become essential to attract and most importantly, retain customers in the digital world.
In case our competitors are not part of the digital world, we may have it relatively easy. Generally speaking, to be successful we must make sure we reach our desired audience, correctly target our customers, communicate effectively and give our clients the confidence they need to become digital. If you are thinking that this is not an easy way to go through, I agree, but consider the alternative!
If any of our competitors are in the digital world, things can get a little more complicated, because we need to have a digital presence, with everything it entails, and also, we have to compete. I am not going to get into detail of what this competition means, or which types of competition are there. I will just mention that, we should either compete for price or we must differentiate ourselves somehow. Therefore, differentiation in the digital world becomes key. In order to achieve this differentiation, we have to work on our marketing strategy, and after succeeding in attracting the right audience, we must convince them that we are their best solution.
As a result of this, and adding the importance of digital channels today and for the future; UI, UX and hundreds of other techniques and tactics are very important; but what lies behind is the concept of CX, CustomerExperience. CustomerExperience is what makes our company completely focused on the client, it ensures that all the interactions and touch points that we have with our clients, or potential clients, are taken care of and worked on. Probably now, you might have realized that just being in the digital world was actually the easiest part of all this, right?
When I say taking care of, I mean presenting and communicating as a company in the best possible way, empathizing, and considering the context, the pandemic and its impacts. Yes, we must constantly evaluate and redesign, among other things, journeys and interactions. This is where, all the different audiences mentioned earlier must be contemplated. Since the communication strategy must consider the different characteristics of each audience, whoever receives that message should interpret it as one-to-one (personalized communication) and most importantly, perceives that we’re really focusing on them. Some examples to classify our customers are age and geography, which allows us to easily segment the audience. There are also other characteristics or knowledges that enables us to segment even further and therefore, achieve an even more effective communication. As I like to put it, the more and better I know you, the better the service that my business can offer you.
While the concept of Customer Experience goes far beyond this analysis. It is important to understand that, for this approach to work, our business needs structure, culture and organizational maturity. Additionally, this might be easier to achieve by smaller organizations, but no matter the size, the objective is crystal clear. Without that foundation, everything you build, is likely to fall apart sooner rather than later. That is why, it is very important to approach it responsibly, so then you not pay the consequences in the midst of this context.