Customer Experience News & Trends

COVID aftermath: 6 shifts in customer expectations

We’ve all changed since COVID-19. And research has just nailed down how customer expectations shifted as a result of the coronavirus. Here’s what you need to know and do now. 

We know customers have strong feelings about their experiences. They’ve always cared about how they’re treated – and they’ll voice their love and hate in person and online.

But attitudes have shifted since the world was affected by the coronavirus. And companies need to keep those changes – many uncovered in  Sitel Group’s COVID-19: the CX Impact study – as they move forward.

“The last three months have challenged consumers and brands like never before, and we are all faced with understanding a new reality. How do we shift from adapting to the crisis to driving a success strategy in this future world?” said Martin Wilkinson-Brown, Global CMO at Sitel Group. “In this quickly changing world, customer experience is truly one of the only ways for brands to stay competitive within their industries and now more than ever it’s critical to meet consumers where they want to interact.”

Here are six critical areas where expectations have changed – and customer experience-focused organizations want to respond.

1. The best experience wins

If you thought cutting corners on the customer experience will help your organization recover from the pandemic, think again. The customer experience is where you can get a leg up on the competition and regain your company’s ground, according to the Sitel research.

Almost 40% of customers said they’d  pay more for a product or service if they’d get a superior experience. And nearly 75% of customers say they’d quit a company after just one bad experience.

Takeaway: Invest in maintaining – or improving – the level of customer support, service and experience you provided before the pandemic.

2. Streamline shopping

Customers enjoyed online shopping experiences equally before and after the pandemic outbreak, with about 50% preferring it to shopping in stores. But post-pandemic, many customers plan to continue to buy products online they used to purchase in stores.

And their No. 1 priority for a great online shopping experience now is convenience, followed by speed.

Takeaway: Create more one-click or auto-fill experiences for purchasing on your sites. Also feature complementary items – or services you know customers will need with products they order – on each product page.

3. Power up email and social media

Customers called to connect with companies – ask questions, get help, find guidance, etc. – equally before and after the coronavirus breakout. The difference on this side of it: They’re using email and social media to make connections more now.

Takeaway: You still need to be ready to answer the phone. Customers want that personal connection. But if you want to make an impact where customers expect it most, take steps to improve writing – how your front line professionals interact in email and online.

4. Scale back on the app

One surprising change from the coronavirus: Customers placed mobile apps as their least favorite – or likely – place to connect with companies. This doesn’t mean apps are dead. Many large organizations still have success with apps when they’re engaging to customers.

Takeaway: Sitel researchers suggest focusing more on a strong, responsive and responsible social media presence over investing deeply in apps to improve the customer experience.

5. Maintain a robust self-service menu

More than half of customers want self-service options because they believe it’s faster than other options to get the answers and information they want. They were willing before COVID-19 to look for and use information – and they’re still willing.

Takeaway: Any well-designed self-service option is helpful – YouTube videos, FAQs, gated databases, account reviews, etc. Customers put the highest value on self service that’s available round the clock.

6. Keep it real

Customers still want a human connection – perhaps even more – when dealing with a company. They need to know there’s a person behind the email, social media messaging and chat.

Takeaway: Providing a human connection is most essential when customers face a critical issue. Listen, watch and monitor automated experiences for language that indicates a critical issue – and create alerts for people to lean in and give personal help, if it’s not already happening.

5 Essential Strategies for Managing a Multi-Generational Workforce in Your Contact Center

Take a couple minutes today and simply look out onto the production floor of your contact center. Chances are pretty great that you are seeing a diverse group of people that span across several generations.  Read more!

Subscribe Today

Get the latest customer experience news and insights delivered to your inbox.