COVID-19 is changing everything. Many customer experiences are vastly different now than they were at the beginning of the year, and so too are consumer expectations as we slowly return to in-person interactions. As everyone adapts to doing business touchlessly, it’s vital to focus on delivering on brand promises for every customer transaction.
While advertising may promise a quality product or service, one constant through all this is that customer facing employees and digital interfaces must deliver on that promise. What was considered a highly satisfying experience three months ago may no longer delight your customers today. Businesses have had to expand digital transaction platforms, virtual call centers and touch-less branches. Staying on top of rapidly changing customer expectations remains vital for brands to sustain customer loyalty and trust. Here are a few ways to deliver on your brand promises during this unprecedented time.
The shift toward digital and social media communication has been ongoing for over a decade, but the pandemic has made this an overnight necessity for every brand. Failures are more visible and reaching a bigger audience than ever. Take, for example, the travel industry which has been besieged by guests seeking refunds for canceled trips. Or banks that are receiving the brunt of small business owners’ frustration as they struggle to apply for PPP loans. Or even state unemployment departments that are overwhelmed by 30 million applications in the first six weeks following the outbreak. These events and the corresponding brand responses are now highly visible and are being closely monitored and judged as consumers are more tuned into digital platforms than ever before. Be sure your responses are consistent with the promises you’ve made to consumers.
Many of our clients have added COVID-19 questions to their customer experience (CX) or brand tracking research to get immediate feedback on what their customers are feeling or needing. Using a CX feedback loop in this way becomes a vital opportunity for two-way communication. We have observed significantly higher response rates during the pandemic in both consumer and B2B surveys. Quickly implementing changes based on this feedback is helping ensure these brands fully meet their clients’ expectations. Where once a high-touch experience was often associated with luxury, today’s customer would shun such an interaction and potentially even post comments warning others to avoid the establishment.
We’ve been asked if market research could be perceived as insensitive at a time like this. Yes, care must be taken to tailor the outreach and the questions to the current environment. But, by adapting the invitation to acknowledge these ‘ever-evolving times,’ recruitment calls or emails can help reinforce a brand’s commitment to serving the customer as things are in flux. In some cases, we’ve gone so far as to ask Insight Community members if they want to continue participating in the coming weeks—close to nine out of ten responded that they saw the dialog as important and did not want it suspended.
We’ve also seen customer experience (CX) scores trend up as customers appreciate the service they are receiving from employees they know are themselves working from home, schooling kids, etc.
While it’s always important to measure how you’re delivering on the promises you’re making to customers to maintain your brand identity, it becomes imperative during times of disruption. Effective digital communication, monitoring shifting customer expectations and continuing to research and check in with customers will serve brands well as we all seek to find some normalcy.
For more about the impact of COVID-19 on the financial services industry, click below to read our market research perspective newsletters.