The world has drastically changed due to the COVID 19 crisis. The massive disruption caused by the global pandemic has led businesses to cope with the newly emerging reality, but more importantly, it has left a mark on customer behavior. At a time like this, customer expectations from businesses are in the process of being redefined, and positive customer experience during and post-COVID 19 is gaining attention as a differentiating factor between businesses.
Why is Customer Experience important during the pandemic?
Due to the pandemic, customers are now deeply concerned about the impact of COVID 19, not just in the context of health, but on their everyday functioning. Businesses are now meant to serve a different customer, one that has been emotionally and economically impacted by the pandemic.
Customer priorities are changing, and at a time of a crisis, a customer’s interaction with a business can trigger an immediate effect on their sense of trust and loyalty towards the business. Customers expect their experience with the business to be honest, transparent, and convenient. Customer experience has become a benchmark of differentiation, and the real challenge during the pandemic is to maintain the quality of customer experience.
Customer behaviour is changing
Consumer priorities are now centered on basic needs, demand for hygiene, cleaning, social distancing, and most importantly convenience. Customers prefer their interaction to be contactless and digital. Even after the end of the pandemic, there will be a sense of heightened awareness about whether or not to go out and take part in social activities.
Companies that show care and concern will forge even stronger relationships with their customers that will lead to customer loyalty.
52% of US online adults prefer to buy from companies that show how they are protecting customers against the threat of COVID-19. This is exactly why businesses need to prioritize customer experience during and post-COVID 19.
Below is an infographic based on customer behavior and how to enhance customer experience during the COVID 19 pandemic.
According to the Annual Digital Trends report conducted by Econsultancy and Adobe, B2B companies stated that the experience was an exciting opportunity to connect with your customers in 2020.
Due to such lasting impacts of the pandemic on customer preferences and behaviors, the customer experience that your business is offering has to change.
What do Customers expect and How do Marketers need to respond?
The Customer Experience your business offers is empty without the empathy factor. It is important to put yourself in the shoes of the customer, in their mindset, and take clear action to meet their needs before they even express them.
The presence of emotional intelligence as a skill in the demeanor of your support team is essential to great customer experience. Reaching out to your customer about a mishap, reassuring them from time to time, letting them know that you are working on what they need is key to empathetic engagement.
Make Digital more Human
Businesses interact with their customers across multiple channels through live chat, social media, SMS, and more. However, customers expect quality assistance through these channels consistently.
As seen in the infographic above whether the conversation is via email, chat, or on the phone, 87% of consumers feel that connecting with a live customer representative is the best way of resolving an issue.
Proactive and personalized engagement on your website via Live Chat makes the customer experience more convenient. Live chat has gone from being the channel of choice for 19% of consumers from before the pandemic to being the preference of 28% of consumers, during the pandemic.
Engaging with customers and providing them with all the information they need is one way of adding the human touch to your customer experience.
Tech Vs Human Interaction
The surge in customer service interactions is leading businesses to determine what can be answered via AI or chatbots versus which issues or queries must be escalated to a person. Prior to the pandemic, 59% of consumers already felt companies had lost touch with the human element of the customer experience. The immediacy of having a query answered was also missing in customer experience strategies.
In comparison to Live Chat, businesses use Chatbots on their website. Imagine a customer has a complicated query. A chatbot will simply match the keywords of the question and provide the answer in the form of links to the customer. A visitor will not want to rummage through pages of content to find an answer. A chat agent on the other hand can provide an answer immediately.
22% are looking for a service or solution that’s always available, day or night, rather than during typical business hours. Adding Live Chat to your website can help your business be available to answer customer queries 24X7 and 365 days of the year.
Importance of Informing
People are concerned, and confused. Utilize the immediacy of SMS or Whatsapp by informing your customers about delivery updates and schedules, product updates, a new way to reach out to you, upcoming offers, etc.
Now that customer behavior, regardless of the generation, has not only shifted to online buying for essentials but has also adapted to the online system for nearly everything beyond the basic necessities, it is a good time to seize the moment. Send your customers weekly newsletters, even though it is a small one, about updates on how your business is coping with the pandemic, whether with new systems or services, email campaigns, special offers, etc to keep them in the loop.
Marketing experts know that emotional marketing is effective. It has been predicted that by 2025 60% of major brands and retailers will improve customer engagement by detecting and managing emotions to influence purchases.
COVID 19 will accelerate and concretize the shift into a digital reality, molding customer expectations as time passes. The pandemic will influence customers and businesses to redefine the notion of customer experience as well as what consists of positive customer experience, and marketers will have to keep up with the demands of the customer based on their changing behaviors, through innovation, and transformation of the digital tools at hand.