Research Shows Customer Perceptions of Businesses During the COVID-19 Crisis

Research Report Background and Introduction

InMoment (formerly MaritzCX), conducts an ongoing study, CX Standards, tracking satisfaction with customers’ interactions with over 300 companies spanning 17 industries in the United States. Beginning on March 27, we added COVID-19-related questions to this study to track how well industries and businesses are doing serving customers during this crisis. Specifically, we asked:

  • When it comes to responding to the Coronavirus (COVID-19), how would you rate [COMPANY]’s efforts to date? [1 = Very poor …10 = Excellent]
  • You rated [COMPANY] a score of [SCORE FROM QUESTION 1]. Can you give some specifics on their effort that led to this rating? [Open-Ended Comment]
  • How much will [COMPANY]’s efforts during this crisis affect your likelihood of doing business with them after the crisis? [1 = Not at all ….10 = Extremely] 

What Does the Research Say About Who is Handling the Crisis Well and Who Isn’t? 

As the research shows, restaurants, shipping, and to a lesser extent, investments are the best responding industries, and customers are most satisfied by their COVID-19 responses. And, we’d like to congratulate these businesses.

Interestingly enough, customers are least satisfied by COVID-19 responses of companies in technology (online-only retailers, mobile, and television) industries. This may be a result of increased demand for these services while people are sheltering at home, and the difficulty of meeting said demand.

How Well Are Different Industries Dealing with the COVID-19 Crisis? 

When we plot how well industries are dealing with the COVID-19 crisis (horizontal axis) by how important their response to the crisis is in terms of determining future business from customers (vertical axis), we can see that several industries like insurance, bank and credit cards, and healthcare* ranked below average in their response to the crisis, but also ranked above average in customers’ views that their response is important. Companies in these industries are in jeopardy of losing customers due to their response, or non-response, to the crisis.

Other industries showing lesser COVID performance and relatively high importance are online-only retailers, television, retail grocery, and retail gas or convenience stores.

Customers Explain What They Want and Don’t Want

Examination of respondents’ comments explaining why they gave companies high or low scores revealed what customers want from companies during this time. On the positive side, the most often-mentioned topics were enforcing social distancing, keeping a clean environment, showing an effort to address the crisis, providing personal protective gear, taking care of their customers, and providing good communication.

The reasons for lower ranking or more negative feedback included insufficient stock, no communication, not addressing the problem(s), and no social distancing. Additionally, this feedback noted lower scores for perceived poor treatment of employees.

The Worst Reaction: Inaction

Our research clearly indicates that the worst reaction companies can have to the COVID-19 crisis is inaction. Customers are appreciative of companies’ efforts to enforce and maintain social distancing rules. Unsurprisingly, they want to feel safe during this uncertain time. Customers also appreciate clear communication about what companies are doing to address the crisis.

It is important to remember that, to date, this information was collected when many businesses in the United States were shut down or working on a very limited basis. It will be interesting to see how customers’ perceptions of companies change as economies are “opened up” and more face-to-face business takes place again.

About Author

Dave Ensing, Ph.D. VP, Research Consulting

David provides research design consultation to clients, facilitates continuous improvement of existing studies and manages InMoments automotive research services group. David has over 20 years of experience conducting and overseeing customer experience programs at InMoment.

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