Customer Experience News & Trends

How to build your new normal customer experience

Everything is different in the post-COVID-19 world. Your customer experience will have to be, too.  

“To succeed throughout the rest of the pandemic and whatever comes next, you need to proactively develop a customer experience strategy that will serve both your customers and your business,” says Kerry Bodine, author of Outside In: The Power of Putting Customers at the Center of What You Do. “What parts of your experience can or should stay the same? And what do you need to do differently?”

Bodine suggests you work through these three questions to create your new, exceptional customer experience:

1. How have our internal operations changed?

As the economy shut down, nearly every company changed how it operated – some stopped, some slowed and a few increased. The changes will impact the future even if things look like they’ll be as they were before the coronavirus. Consider these major factors:

  • Products. Did you pivot production away from your primary product to something else that was needed?
  • Services. Did you have to eliminate or alter some because of public health restrictions? Or did you need to provide more service because new products weren’t available?
  • Personnel. Do you have fewer people because there’s less demand? Or did you ramp up because of an increased demand, and now things are leveling off?
  • Workspace. Have you or will you need to change layouts for social distancing? Or are more people working from home?
  • Processes. What are you doing differently? What works better now and what needs to be improved?

Interview your customer experience pros to find the answers for each factor. You might even talk to customers to see how changes impacted them. Then separate the changes into positive and negative lists to determine what is absolutely necessary, what has been a blessing in disguise and what you need to improve.

2. How have customers’ needs and expectations changed?

If anything should have an impact on the new customer experience, it should be the customers’ evolving needs and expectations. You’ll need to find out how those have changed to direct your next steps. Rely on your existing systems to track customer behavior. Beyond that, you’ll want to:

  • Interview customers. Talking to them will help you recognize the emotions (fears, worries, frustrations, excitement) behind their decisions to buy more, less or differently. You can also get a better understanding of their expectations when they have time and space to explain where they’re coming from and where they hope to go.
  • Build a new customer profile. Based on what you learn about customers’ changing needs and expectations, you might build a different customer profile to reflect the change.
  • Map the new journey. You can lay out a new, tweaked or similar customer experience by mapping your customer journey through finding, buying and working with your products or services. You might find there are more areas for digital interactions or crucial times for high-touch, high-attention interactions.

3. How have our competitors’ experiences changed?

You need to know if you’re ahead, behind or up against the same situation. So look into what your competitors have done with their customer experience in response to the coronavirus.

Here are three ways:

  • Talk to their customers. Some of your customers may do business with your competitors and you can ask them about recent experiences. Or your salespeople may be talking with competitors’ customers, trying to win them over. So work with Sales for insight, too.
  • Scour social media. Keep a close eye on what they put out on social media and how customers or followers react to get an idea of their triumphs, challenges and ideas.
  • Secret shop. Work with a vendor that mystery shops the competition for insight.

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