We’ve spent quite a lot of time discussing how brands can survive during the COVID-19 pandemic, but as shops reopen and governments begin lifting quarantine measures, it’s time to start talking about how businesses can thrive after this crisis.
Sure, COVID-19’s impact will continue to be felt for quite some time, but as customers return to storefronts and some semblance of normalcy is restored, it’s essential that companies consider how to effectively listen to those individuals in a post-COVID world. What follows are a few ideas for achieving exactly that:
- Listening to Customers
- Listening to Employees
- Listening to Non-Customers
- Employing Digital Strategies
Listening to Customers
It’s imperative for businesses to keep their customer experience (CX) and listening programs on during this pandemic, and doubly so as this crisis subsides. The COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed customer preferences, and tuning in to what these new desires are will make or break a brand’s post-pandemic success.
For that reason, organizations should not deactivate their listening programs as they reopen for business, let alone rely on insights gathered before quarantine measures took effect. Rather, organizations should tune their programs toward figuring out what customers want in their experiences as they emerge from quarantine.
Though these desires may vary somewhat from customer to customer, our research has identified a few common trends. For example, many customers want brands to maintain the safety standards they adopted during the pandemic, such as wider aisles for greater personal space and rigorous cleaning of self-checkout stations. Brands that listen for these and other preferences, then adjust their experience strategy accordingly, will find the success they need in a post-COVID world.
Listening to Employees
Employees have faced just as much uncertainty as customers in the age of COVID-19, if not more so. Between the threats of being furloughed or becoming flat-out unemployed, employees have had a lot of stress on their plate during this uncertain time. Brands that have spent the past few months listening closely to employee concerns and making adjustments wherever possible will emerge from this crisis much stronger than brands that don’t.
It’s key that brands continue paying this close of attention to employees as they return to work. Like their customer counterparts, employees care deeply about cleanliness measures, and will work much harder for managers and teams that they feel understand and sympathize with those desires.
There’s another reason to listen carefully to employees as quarantines subside. Depending on how they’ve been treated during this pandemic, many employees will hopefully return to work as brand advocates. Some, however, may return as detractors. Thus, it’s crucial for organizations to listen in not just to gauge how employees feel about their treatment during this pandemic, but also to address any disparities or negative sentiments.
Listening to Non-Customers
Maintaining relationships with existing customers is obviously important, but brands that want to aggressively regain footing they’ve lost during this pandemic should pay close attention to what non-customers are saying. This means expanding listening programs to cover multiple points of the customer journey, as well as giving non-buyers a chance to express their sentiments about a brand with tools like multimedia feedback.
This strategy can give organizations a heightened awareness of what potential buyers are looking for, and provide actionable insights with which to tweak experiences (within reason, of course) to better attract those individuals. This work can help businesses acquire and retain new groups of customers, which, again, is a must for companies looking to regroup and recoup after COVID-19.
Employing Digital Strategies
Listening to customers, employees, non-buyers, and other groups of individuals is important for gaining a holistic understanding of a brand’s experience and marketplace position. Knowing these things will be more important perhaps now than ever before as brands attempt to resume business as usual.
For those reasons, brands, again, should not deactivate listening programs or step away from digital strategies. If anything, companies need to adhere to both of those things more closely now than ever to find success in a post-COVID world. Multimedia feedback options, multi-point feedback, optimized survey design, and scanning for unsolicited feedback are but a few such strategies that brands can use to their advantage in a world after the Coronavirus.