We’ve explored how COVID-19 has changed customer experience (CX) and behaviour in prior conversations, and how those changes are likely to leave the CX landscape altered for the foreseeable future. While the announcement and gradual deployment of a COVID vaccine is certainly cause for hope, it’s important to remember that the pandemic will be with the majority of us a while longer.
This is not the most welcome of news, especially for brands in hard-hit verticals like non-grocery retail and food service, but those organisations still have recourse for keeping their heads above water and thriving in the post-COVID world. Here’s how brands can stay ahead—how they can fight change with change.
Choose Your Transaction
Customers have enjoyed being able to choose how to transact with brands, but the rise of COVID-19 has put most of them on high alert in this regard. Customers are now especially wary of any threats to their health or personal safety, and take these factors into account when considering everything from in-person interactions with employees to touching a self-service kiosk.
As I mentioned in a previous discussion, contactless payments have skyrocketed during COVID-19 and will certainly remain the norm even after this pandemic concludes. There’s a more abstract shift underlying this trend, though, and it’s that customers are expecting brands to deliver greater transaction choice whatever its form. Foot Locker, for example, has continued to offer contactless payments, but has also begun offering Klarna as an online option. Customers have also come to expect these changes at a quicker pace thanks to COVID, and will continue to do so.
Tech’s Time to Shine
As difficult as this pandemic has been for many organisations, it also presents an opportunity to create new, oftentimes unorthodox solutions to the virus and other business challenges. Innovation has gotten many a brand through adverse times before, which is why companies must think outside the technological box as much as their resources will allow.
My favorite example of COVID-era innovation right now is Tesco, which has sought to address the rise in contactless payments by piloting its own drone programme. With this initiative, the grocer is using a fleet of drones to deliver groceries to customers in Ireland, satisfying those individuals’ desire for contactless payments and personal safety all at once. Tesco may very well continue the programme even after the pandemic subsides—after all, the innovations minted during crises rarely just go away after the fact.
A New World
That last idea is something that brands should bear in mind going forward. Not to sound indelicate, but crises come and go. Innovation, however, is forever. Organisations should remember that the tools they’re developing to combat COVID-19 now will likely serve as the foundation of a post-pandemic world. Fighting change with change is not just a stopgap measure; it provides a map for what brands can expect from their customers (and what customers will expect of them) going forward.
Click here to learn more about my take on this subject, the obstacles brands face in the age of COVID, and how they might find success for themselves and their customers as we transition to 2021.