What the Supply Chain Crisis Means for Your Customer Experience

The ongoing global supply chain woes have created massive headaches for both customers and the brands that serve them. One of the many products of lingering COVID uncertainty, the supply chain crisis has resulted in steeper prices, logistics chaos, and a markedly lower supply of everything from video game consoles to garden furniture. Today’s discussion covers three factors brands should be aware of as they consider supply chain issues within the context of customer experience (CX).

3 Supply Chain Crisis Factors to Consider for the Customer Experience

  1. Manufacturing
  2. Logistics
  3. Commodity Prices

Factor #1: Manufacturing

The manufacturing gap is not the only cause of the supply chain’s current state, but it’s certainly one of the most important. As I’m sure you remember during the early days of the pandemic, COVID lockdowns weren’t restricted to offices and restaurants—many manufacturing facilities were also closed due to a combination of quarantine guidelines and falling demand. Now, as the world reawakens after what is hopefully the worst of the pandemic, the manufacturing sector is struggling to match the speed of reemergent customer demand. As a result, many brands find themselves with insufficient stock to actually meet that demand, which poses an obvious threat to customer experience.

Factor #2: Logistics

We’re all hopeful that manufacturing will eventually catch back up to demand, but production capacity is, unfortunately, just one reason the supply chain is currently creaking. The second factor to consider here is logistics, and how both shipping queues and an enduring truck driver shortage are preventing what goods can be manufactured from actually reaching store shelves. Many ships find themselves idling in harbors the world over, which of course increases shipping prices, while the aforementioned driver shortage is an outgrowth of the mass-quitting phenomenon the media have dubbed The Great Recession. Both problems further complicate acquiring stock and providing the experiences that your customers expect.

Factor #3: Commodity Prices

This is a more subtle element than the previous two, but no less important to understanding the supply chain. As it turns out, the higher prices that coffee, sugar, wheat, and other staples command right now aren’t strictly a byproduct of shipping or manufacturing problems. Rather, the reason they’re so high is because, to put it simply, customers bought and cooked with them all while stuck at home! This phenomenon feeds directly into the higher prices you’ve no doubt noticed while grocery shopping, and, of course, brands’ ability to purchase and make use of those same staples for their customers.

How Your Brand Can Respond

The problems I’ve touched on represent significant obstacles for any CX programme. Almost every industry is somehow being affected by the supply chain crisis, and though we all hope that things will improve soon, it’s imperative for your brand to take meaningful action in the meantime. Taking action will help you not just make the best of this problem, but will also help protect your customer experience and to maintain the connective relationships you’ve worked so hard to create. This is what the supply chain crisis means for your brand: action is more important now than ever before.

Click here to read my full-length point of view document on how best to take action against supply chain problems. I go into each of the issues I touched on here (and The Great Resignation) in more detail, followed by solutions that will allow you to continue creating powerful experiences and achieving meaningful change even in these uncertain times.

4 Reads That Will Help You Prove CX ROI

At the end of the day, investing in customer experience (CX) is about more than just the score. Sure, it’s great to see a boost in CX metrics like NPS, CSAT, and CES, but what really drives impact? Creating tangible value for your business—and that means proving that sometimes elusive CX ROI. 

Historically, CX practitioners have struggled to assign a dollar amount to the value of their programs. And if that sounds familiar to you, that’s okay! Throughout our decades of experience helping the world’s top brands craft memorable, business-powering Experience Improvement (XI) programs, We like to call them the four economic pillars of customer experience (or the four pillars of CX ROI for short).

Curious about the pillars and how they support a foundation of bottom-line value? Look no further! We’ve packed this blog with information on each pillar, examples of programs who have found success in that area, and assets you can leverage to mirror that success in your own program. Let’s dive in!

Four Ways to Prove CX ROI (and Assets That Show You How)

  1. Customer Acquisition
  2. Customer Retention
  3. Cross-sell & Upsell
  4. Cost Reduction

#1: Customer Acquisition

A well-built voice of customer (VoC) program enables organizations to anticipate what new customers are seeking in a brand and thus be ahead of the curve. 

For example, a major athletic company sought to capitalize on acquisitions by optimizing its surveys to find new types of customers. By targeting respondents between the ages of 18 and 35 with specific questions, the company was able to understand this demographic and expand to new cities and demographics.The practitioners who ran this initiative were able to prove CX ROI by tracking the new customer acquisition, increases in unique customers, and market share growth that it generated.

In “Four Customer Experience Tools That Fuel Your Customer Acquisition Strategy,” we highlight four CX solutions you can add to your tool box that will help you bring new customers through your doors. They include Key Driver Analysis, Competitive Benchmarking, Microsurveys, and Multimedia Feedback. You can read the full piece here!

#2: Customer Retention

Organizations should never underestimate the power of service recovery—70 percent of customers who have a situation resolved in their favor will return to a brand, while a 10 percent increase in customer retention can grow a company’s value by 30 percent. Truly customer-centric companies can easily reach and maintain these percentages.

For example, America’s largest cable and home internet provider leverages VoC technology in their regional customer care centers (and are able to prove millions in CX ROI). They discovered that 3% of all respondents requested callbacks, meaning the brand had 1,000 customer recovery opportunities a month (or a whopping 12,000 per year). By combining this insight with customer lifetime value, the company was able to identify $23 million in recoverable revenue—directly resulting from customer retention! 

Our eBook, “How to Improve Customer Retention & Generate Revenue with Your CX Program” is an all inclusive guide to everything you need to know to make your program a customer-keeping machine. Read it here!

#3: Cross-sell and Upsell

Given that it costs 25 times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one, brands stand to gain a lot from finding new cross-selling and upselling opportunities.

Organizations can leverage CX listening tools to identify what about a brand spurs trust and loyalty from its customers and take action to make those offerings even stronger. After all, nearly 50 percent of customers are willing to spend anywhere from 11 to 50 percent more with a brand they feel they can trust.

An example of this is a large cafe group that was able to capture feedback from its existing customer base, analyze their sentiments, and make fundamental menu changes accordingly. As a result, the cafe group saw a noticeable revenue bump that it was able to link directly to their program insights and subsequent menu changes.

Curious how your CX program can help you identify opportunities for cross-sell and upsell? Check out our white paper, “Understand and Predict Your Customers’ Needs with Customer Journey Analytics,” you’ll learn more about understanding your customer journey, identifying what matters most to your customers, predicting customer concerns and behaviors, and how that information helps you to drive business growth. Get your copy here!

#4: Cost Reduction 

Organizations can use CX feedback and employee feedback to both save money within operations and to simplify their provided experience. Are there ineffective processes that are costing more than they’re worth? Eliminating such costs can save companies time, resources, and revenue. (After all, training one employee can cost an average of almost $1,100!)

A top-tier mattress retailer used CX tools to install an exit survey for departing employees, giving them a greater understanding of employee sentiment. After implementing the necessary changes to reduce turnover and new hire training costs, the company was able to establish a clear link between its CX strategy and the ROI it helped to generate.
This infographic, “3 Ways Your CX Program Can Save You Money” lays out three areas where you can cut costs, lower cost to serve, and still deliver the same great experiences. You can access it here!

The Difference Between Customer Interactions and Customer Experiences

Recently, a client asked me what we at InMoment thought defines a “customer interaction,” as there had been some debate on the subject within his team. I pondered the subject and brought it back to my colleagues. Quickly, we were asking ourselves not only about the characteristics of an interaction, but beyond that, what falls under the larger umbrella of customer experience? Is there a difference? Today, we’ll be diving deeper into these questions.

What Is a Customer Interaction?

Webster’s defines “interaction” as:

  • Mutual or reciprocal action or influence
  • To act upon one another

From this definition, we see clearly that two or more parties are required for an interaction; for example, a company or brand and a prospect or customer.  

What Is a Customer Experience?

Harley Manning, VP, Research Director at Forrester, once defined customer experience as: How customers perceive their interactions with your company.  He went on to define an interaction as when you and your customers have a two-way exchange.1

Neither Here, Nor There

So what does that mean when a prospect or customer browses your website but does not make a purchase? Or a customer clicks a link in your brand’s email, but does not go any further? According to the definitions above, those are not interactions.  But there are a lot of people in companies working very hard to get these actions to happen (click through rate and time on website/app are very common marketing and ecommerce metrics).  

If they are not interactions, what are they? I would classify them as engagements.  A customer has engaged with your brand, but there was no interaction, because it was only unilateral. Thus, not all engagements are interactions.

And here is where it gets interesting.  If the examples listed above are not interactions, but engagements, are they considered part of your customer experience? You better believe it.  

The Intersection Between Customer Engagements and Customer Experiences

Customer experience is generally held to be the sum of all interactions someone has with your brand and the resulting feelings they have about your brand. But are experiences limited to interactions or engagements? Do customers have to interact with your people, products, services, or digital properties for their engagement to fall under customer experience?  

Today, a company’s policies regarding diversity and inclusion, for example, or the politics, causes, and charities they choose to support have an impact on people’s feelings about the brand. I would argue that these are part of the customer experience as well.  There are prospects out there that will choose to never do business with your company based on these issues and other customers who become more loyal for the same reasons.

Returning to the Question

To return to the original question, I would like to suggest that customer interactions and customer experience are concentric circles. An interaction is a subset of engagement, which in turn is a subset of experience.

Customer Experience versus Customer Engagement vs customer Interactions

And companies have to be attentive to all of the ways customers experience their brands, products, and services. Whether or not an engagement ever advances to the level of interaction is an integral piece of the CX puzzle.

Want to hear more from Eric about customer interactions, engagements, and experiences? Stay tuned for the next post in the series!

How to Humanize Customer Experience & Drive Meaningful Customer Relationships

There’s a problem with how many businesses view customer experience (CX) data: human beings cannot (and should not) be distilled down to numbers. For many years, experience programs have hailed numbers as a sort of holy grail, but the reality is that numbers are no substitute for genuine human connection.

None of this is to say that metrics aren’t important, but companies should remember that they can only reveal so much about why customers may be experiencing an issue or even why they remain loyal to the brand. With that in mind, we’re going to dive into a few things to bear in mind while creating more human and more connective customer relationships!

Numbers Alone Can’t Tell a Story

Before we get into how to humanize and improve customer experiences, we first need to understand why structured data can’t give us all the answers. For instance, it’s common to send out Net Promoter Score (NPS), Customer Satisfaction (CSAT/OSAT), or Customer Effort Score (CES) surveys after a customer interacts with a brand, but what do these scores actually tell us? A higher ease-of-use score, for example, doesn’t necessarily mean you made the customer happier or that you improved that customer relationship. You can speculate about numbers, but they don’t reveal the exact, organic reason why customers feel one way or another.

So, how can companies compensate for this lack of context? The answer lies in unstructured data and the Experience Improvement (XI) solutions that can turn it into actionable intelligence. That actionable intelligence, in turn, gives brands the chance to create a more organic, more connective, and more human customer experience.

How to Humanize and Improve Customer Experiences

Only when a business listens to human feedback can it respond with a more human customer experience. This means tapping into the voice of the customer by allowing customers to express feedback in their own words. 

Consider platforms like Instagram, Yelp, and YouTube. People can use these platforms to freely (and frankly) express themselves in a way that numbers cannot allow. The result is a form of unstructured feedback that your brand can not only use to trace the root causes of experience breakages, but also to empathize with your customers.

After accumulating enough unstructured data, the next step is to analyze and act on what you’ve learned. However, that’s easier said than done, especially if your CX resources are limited. That’s why it’s important to desilo data and share customer intelligence with your entire company. Then, you can get multiple departments to collaborate and act on their role in humanizing the customer experience (this approach also creates a single, holistic view of the customer for your organization).

If your brand can offer experiences that are far more human, that’s far more valuable than achieving any high metric score. And it goes hand in hand with customer loyalty. When a customer feels empathized with and known as a person, that customer will return to your brand—even if there’s a lot of competition—because their relationship with you has transcended mere transactions. This is the heart of Experience Improvement—answering customers’ search for meaning while strengthening both your bottom line and your marketplace leadership!
To learn more about what makes doing business so dehumanizing and why brands need to challenge themselves to humanize and improve customer experiences, watch this video!

5 Steps to Improve—Not Just Manage—Your Experience

Since the inception of customer experience (CX), the conversation about feedback and listening tools has largely revolved around data collection. Many brands have emphasized turning listening programs on immediately, gathering feedback from everyone, and using that feedback to inform both metrics and strictly reactive experience management.

Is there not a deeper layer to experience, though? Top-tier analyst firms like Forrester certainly seem to think so. That conversation about gathering feedback, about experience management, is being taken a step further to a new paradigm: Experience Improvement (XI).

Rather than being about reactive management and just watching metrics like NPS, experience improvement encourages brands to amp things up by creating meaningful, emotionally connective experiences for each and every customer. What follows are five steps to getting your program to that level.

Five Steps to Improve Experiences

  1. Design
  2. Listen
  3. Understand
  4. Transform
  5. Realize

Step #1: Design

Until now, most experience program frameworks encourage brands to turn listening posts on immediately and use gathered feedback to shape eventual goals. However, with experience improvement, this model is inverted to great effect. Rather than getting feedback first, forming goals later, brands should carefully think about what objectives they want their program to accomplish and design their listening efforts around those goals.

For example, does your brand want to reduce customer churn by a given percentage? What about increasing retention or acquisition? Whatever your company’s goal, your experience program can help you get much further toward it if you spell out concrete, numbers-driven goals before turning any listening posts on. Frankly, some audiences are also more worth listening to than others, and completing this step can help your brand better decide where to tune in and why.

Step #2: Listen

Once you’ve established your experience program’s goals and audiences, you can then turn your aforementioned listening posts on. Having determined which audiences to listen to before doing so can help your brand consolidate experience program resources toward much more helpful groups. For example, if you’re looking to boost customer retention, it makes more sense to focus on your established customer base than anyone who interacts with your brand in any context. This approach saves your brand time and resources hunting down helpful intel.

Step #3: Understand

After gathering more focused, relevant feedback through your program, take time to carefully digest it and sort out what might need improvement. An experience platform armed with capabilities like sentiment analysis can be a huge help here.  Additionally, it bears repeating that understanding your feedback means more than scoreboard-watching NPS—it means diving deep into customer feedback to understand common themes, praises, problems, and possible solutions.

Step #4: Transform

Understanding your customer feedback is one thing; using it to meaningfully transform the business is another. This is arguably the most work-intensive step of the experience improvement framework… and one of the most important. Meaningful transformation means sharing CX intelligence with leaders across the business (especially in the departments most relevant to the feedback) and working closely with them to outline and implement process improvements. Desiloing data is always a good idea because it gives employees a holistic view of the brand’s purpose.

Step #5: Realize

Realizing experience improvement means circling back to the goals you set forth in the design stage to ascertain how things shook out. Did you meet your program numbers? Perhaps more importantly, have the improvements implemented as a result of your program resulted in positive cultural changes? Having an initial goal to compare your outcome to is vital to realizing experience improvement… and simplifies proving ROI to request more resources for additional efforts.

By following these steps, organizations can transcend managing experiences and start meaningfully improving them. As we mentioned up top, Experience Improvement leads to the sorts of deeply connective experiences that keep customers coming back no matter what, leading to fundamental brand success.

To read more about these five steps—and brands who have found success with them—check out this article for free today!

What Retail Customers Are Saying About Black Friday in 2020

We’ve all seen videos of customers flooding through retailer doors in the small hours of Black Friday. While many of us are still asleep on the day after Thanksgiving, these shoppers are getting their Holiday shopping started with doorbuster deals—but what about this year? Will those shoppers still be rushing to stores? Or will the concerns of COVID-19 encourage them to stay home and snag deals from their laptops?

Not the type to leave anything up to guesswork, our Strategic Insights Team asked 5,000 future holiday shoppers how they expect to spend their Black Friday. Here’s what they learned:

Most Customers Will Do Their Holiday Shopping in November

One of the questions our team asked customers was when they planned to do their holiday shopping. More specifically, in which month did customers expect to begin their holiday shopping? More than half (54%) responded that they would start shopping in November.

Here are some other important results to note:

  • 42% of respondents are planning to make purchases on Black Friday (in store)
  • 39% plan to purchase on Cyber Monday (online)
  • 19% plan to make purchases before Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Most Customers Will Shop the Same Ways They Did in 2019

Because 2020 is a year unlike any other, our experts wanted to know if customers would shop more, less, or about the same this year.

In a somewhat surprising twist, respondents noted that they were even more likely to shop on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday in comparison to last year. They are also more likely to save shopping until December.

Black Friday or Cyber Monday?

One of the biggest questions retailers have on their minds is whether customers be participating more in Black Friday sales or Cyber Monday specials?

Well, many retailers have expanded their online sales to be more of a Cyber Week, with the full week of Thanksgiving offering opportunities for customers to save on holiday gifts. And it’s a good thing, because the majority of shoppers say that they will be shopping both in store and online.

No matter where customers are this Black Friday, there’s no doubt that they will be grateful for the brands that prioritize their safety!

For more details about our findings on in-store versus online holiday shopping, check out this infographic! We outline:

  • How many shoppers will be in stores and online
  • What customers are saying about their experiences
  • What matters most to them in both places.

What Holiday Shoppers Expect In Store & Online

Do you know what holiday shoppers need from you this season? What about what matters most to them in store? Or what is most important to them when it comes to their experience on your website?

If you’re unsure, don’t simply guess what your customers are looking for. Instead, check out this infographic we created based on a study we did that surveyed 5,000 North American customers about their expectations for the holiday shopping season!

What Holiday Shoppers Expect In Store & Online

3 Ways an Improvement Success Framework Can Supercharge Your Experience Program

These days, it’s not uncommon for brands to take the term “listening program” to mean a series of listening posts set up across multiple channels.

Yes, those posts are an important part of listening, but experience programs can be so much more (and do so much more for your business). They can go far beyond listening in across channels and reacting to customer comments only as they come in.

Listening for, reacting to, and measuring customer sentiment in this manner is what’s commonly known as experience management. And honestly, it rarely moves the needle for brands or creates a better experience for customers. Experience improvement (XI), by contrast, allows companies to achieve both of those goals by connecting to customers in a very human way. Essentially, it pays for brands to have an experience improvement success framework.

Today, we’re going to touch on three ways a success framework can add unbridled power to any improvement effort:

  1. Proving ROI
  2. Listening Purposefully
  3. Owning The Moments That Matter

Key #1: Proving ROI

ROI has been a notoriously fickle element of experience programs for years—but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, the difficulty of proving ROI stems less from experience programs being a financially elusive unicorn than many companies not tying their program to a quantifiable objective.

This is why it is crucial that brands establish hard, specific goals for their experience program. An objective like “be more customer-centric” isn’t going to cut it, especially when it comes to proving ROI. Rather, experience practitioners and stakeholders need to work together to hash out program objectives that can be tied to financial goals.

Whether it’s acquiring X amount of new customers or lowering cost to serve by Y percent, creating goals like these and gearing your program toward them will make establishing ROI much, much easier.

Key #2: Listening Purposefully

ROI isn’t the only area a success framework can help companies stencil in. This setup can also help brands better identify who to listen to and why.

Conventional wisdom holds that companies should listen for feedback from anyone, but that isn’t necessarily true. Callous as it may sound to some, the truth is that some audiences are just more worth listening to than others. A success framework can help companies identify which audiences they need to listen to to achieve program goals.

This approach is also handy for cutting through the mountains and mountains of data that experience programs inevitably rake in. They also help programs get to the heart of providing a great experience, which leads us to our final topic:

Key #3: Owning The Moments That Matter

The moments that matter are the instances in which the needs of customers, employees, and businesses all connect. They’re the moments in which a customer journey transcends a transaction and becomes a profound emotional connection. Owning the moments that matter is vital to creating connections and inspiring transformational success across your business.

This final key is a culmination of establishing financial goals, listening purposefully, and taking action—ultimately creating meaning for customers. That capacity to create meaning is what sets the best brands apart from the competition and carries them to the top of their verticals. And it all starts with building an experience improvement success framework.

Click here to learn more about how to create a success framework and why doing so at the very start of your experience improvement journey will guarantee success for you, your customers, and your employees.

The Most Important Conversation You Can Have About Your Customer & Employee Experience

One of the most important pieces of advice we give our clients as they dig into their customer or employee experience strategy is to “design with the end in mind.”

This is really just our way of saying that when you map out your listening posts, choose your text analytics approach, or designate internal teams to lead program governance initiatives, you need to know what you are working toward. 

And that brings us to the most important conversation you can have with your customer experience (CX) and employee experience (EX) stakeholders. It starts with this one question:

What business challenges are we trying to solve with our experience initiatives?

Because that’s really the goal, isn’t it? It’s not just to measure the state of your experience. Not just to deliver insights from your data (regardless of if they’re actionable or not). The point of a CX or EX program is to improve your experience to improve your business!

For some, that might mean acquiring new customers or retaining existing customers. For others, it might look like reducing costs and increasing cross-sell and upsell efforts. Whether you fall into one or all four of these areas, your experience program can help you deliver value. 

Solving for X with Experience Improvement

This principle, what we call Experience Improvement (XI), is why InMoment exists. Our mission is to help our clients improve experiences at the intersection of value—where customer, employee, and business needs come together.  

Ultimately, our clients are able to move the needle and go beyond managing their experience to actually improving it. With the right intelligence, businesses can empower the right people to take transformative, informed action in the most effective ways, achieving better results for the business and better experiences for their customers and employees.

And it all starts with one conversation: What is the “X” your business is trying to solve for?

If you want to learn more about how your experience programs can solve for X, you can learn more here. You can also reach out to our knowledgeable experts to see how experience improvement can benefit your business today! Reach out and talk to us here.

The Shortcomings of Comment-Based Surveys

Comment-based surveys can be effective for immediately gathering feedback from customers. And when it comes to customer experience (CX), timeliness can make or break an organization’s ability to act on that feedback.

However, there are several arenas in which brands use comment-based surveys when another survey type would yield better intelligence. Today, I’d like to dive into several shortcomings that can make using comment-based surveys challenging for brands, as well as a few potential solutions for those challenges. Let’s get started.

Outlet-Level Analysis

As I discussed in my recent article on this subject, comment-based surveys are often less effective than other survey types for conducting outlet-level analysis. In other words, while brands can see how well stores, bank branches, and the like are performing generally, they usually can’t determine where individual outlets need to improve .

The reason for this has as much to do with the feedback customers leave as the survey design itself. From what I’ve seen across decades of research, customers rarely discuss more than 1-2 topics in their comments. Yes, customers may touch upon many topics as a group, but rarely are most or even a lot of those topics covered by singular comments.

What all of this ultimately means for brands using comment-based surveys to gauge outlet effectiveness is that the feedback they receive is almost always spread thin. The intelligence customers submit via this route can potentially cover many performance categories, but there’s usually not that much depth to it, making it difficult for brands to identify the deep-rooted problems or process breakages that they need to address at the unit level if they want to improve experiences.

(Un)helpful Feedback

Another reason that brands can only glean so much from comment-based surveys at the outlet level is that, much of the time, customers only provide superficial comments like:“good job”, “it was terrible”, and the immortally useless “no comment.” In other words, comment-based surveys can be where specificity goes to die.

Obviously, there’s not a whole lot that the team(s) running a brand’s experience improvement program can do with information that vague. Comments like these contain no helpful observations about what went right (or wrong) with the experience that the customer is referring to. The only solution to this problem is for brands to be more direct with their surveys and ask for feedback on one process or another directly.

How to Improve Comment-Based Surveys

These shortcomings are among the biggest reasons brands should be careful about trying to use comment-based surveys to diagnose processes, identify employee coaching opportunities, and seeing how well outlets are adhering to organization-wide policies and procedures. However, none of this means that comment-based surveys should be abandoned. In fact, there’s a solution to these surveys’ relative lack of specificity.

Brands can encourage their customers to provide better intelligence via multimedia feedback. Options like video and image feedback enable customers to express themselves in their own terms while also giving organizations much more to work with than comment-based surveys can typically yield. Multimedia feedback can thus better allow brands to see how their regional outlets are performing, diagnose processes, and provide a meaningfully improved experience for their customers.

Click here to read my Point of View article on comment-based surveys. I take a deeper dive into when they’re effective, when they’re not, and how to use them to achieve transformational success.

What Customers Say the 2020 Holiday Retail Season Will Look Like with COVID-19

Summer has passed, school is back in session, and Halloween is just around the corner. You know what typically comes up next: the holiday shopping season.

The only thing is that 2020 is anything but typical. There were very few summer road trips, kids are wearing masks or taking classes from home, and trick-or-treating might be off the menu to limit COVID-19 spread. So what can retailers expect—if anything—from the holiday shopping season?

Well, at InMoment, we believe that asking customers is the best way to understand their expectations and perceptions, so our Strategic Insights Team is here with the answers! Enter our brand new report, “What Retailers Can Expect from Customers in the 2020 Holiday Season.”

In this study, we asked over 5,000 North American customers all about the 2020 holiday shopping season, including:

  • When they will shop
  • What they will be shopping for
  • Whether they will be shopping in store or online
  • If they expect to attend Black Friday doorbusters
  • And more!

Typically, you’d need to download the full report to access the findings, but we’ve decided to give you a sneak peek into our findings! Keep reading for insights that will get you prepared for the upcoming season.

How Will the State of the Pandemic Affect Shoppers Feelings and Habits?

If it’s one lesson we’ve learned so far this year, it’s that we need to expect the unexpected. When many of us started working from home at InMoment in March, we never imagined that we wouldn’t be able to work in the office for months. Customers know this, but they are still feeling optimistic that circumstances with the pandemic will improve in the next few months according to our research.

In the unstructured data accompanying these questions, customers went into their feelings in more detail:

  • “I don’t think it will get better until 2021…but that will not stop my [upcoming holiday shopping].”
  • “I think things will remain the same for a while…we just have to get used to this [new normal].”

Though we all hope that we will see improvement in the next few months, we have to face the reality that there is a possibility COVID-19 will be with us through the new year. With that in mind, we asked how this possibility would affect likelihood to switch from in-store shopping to online.

In this case, customers were especially wary of their personal safety and health if the pandemic is still among us in the holidays, with the majority (65%) stating they are more likely to shop online. Still, 35% said they would still shop in stores; these customers described:

  • “I think [brands] are doing enough right now to make sure I’m safe when in their stores.”
  • “As long as the [COVID measures] are still in place, I will be going to the stores.”

It should definitely give retail brands a boost to know that they are making their customers feel safe, and that the in-store experience is so important in the eyes of their customers. 

Looking Forward

Preparation is key, especially in such a busy season. But add in a global pandemic and being prepared seems to be almost impossible. 

However, if retailers are armed with information directly about their customers about what they will do in the event that the pandemic worsens, whether they’ll be shopping in store or online, and more, they will know where they need to dedicate their time and resources to succeed. 

Looking for even more detailers on what your customers are expecting this holiday shopping season? You can download the full report for free here!

3 Ways COVID-19 Has Already Changed Wealth Management

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on many working- and middle-class families’ finances. However, these are not the only groups whose income, savings, and assets have come under threat from this crisis. As I discussed in my recent Point of View article on this subject, many affluent families and audiences have also seen their own financial ecosystems gravely affected. 

Based on a recent poll conducted by InMoment, most affluent consumers expect the market to be quite volatile throughout 2021.  While most are not planning to change their investment style or their firms, COVID-19 has influenced or changed what wealth management clients expect of their advisers, as well as how their financial institutions must manage their business and relationships for the foreseeable future.

Here are the three biggest changes I’ve seen COVID-19 force upon the world of wealth management, as well as some advice and insights on how these firms and consultancies can rise above them.

  1. Hungry for Advice
  2. More Frequent and Proactive Interaction
  3. A Heightened Need for Protection

Change #1: Hungry for Advice

This tip may seem gratuitous, especially since every wealth adviser has that client who talks their ear off after hours, but COVID-19’s impact on these customers’ desire for financial advice cannot be understated. If the data I’ve studied is any indication, the Coronavirus’s penchant for disrupting normalcy has worked its way into affluent clients’ financial fears. So, wealth management firms should be prepared for an ongoing influx of questions about everything from investments to retirement.

Because of this, wealth advisers should tune their experience programs toward opportunities for providing more advice on these and other topics. Unfortunately, it seems the pandemic will be with us for quite some time, and so wealth management firms can count on this influx to sustain itself for about as long. Advisers who continuously focus their listening efforts on the topics customers have questions on and why, though, will be able to keep their heads above water.

Change #2: More Frequent and Proactive Interaction

Because COVID-19 has brought about rapid, large-scale change, wealth management clients have come to expect their advisers to react to new developments with 2008-level speed. This means that wealth advisers can expect their customers to both demand quick responsive action and to be proactive before new changes can adversely affect them.

This demand for faster action has manifested itself in two ways already—first, COVID has made clients much more hawkish when it comes to demanding fast, flexible account management. Additionally, these clients now expect wealth management firms to be much quicker when it comes to business and financial reviews, among other advice. Wealth management companies can rise to these challenges by making fast, proactive action a hallmark of their overall brand experience. Getting to and maintaining that level of reactiveness is no small task, but COVID-19 has made that responsiveness a dealbreaker for many clients.

Change #3: A Heightened Need for Protection

Coronavirus has thrown massive uncertainty into our society, which has many wealth management clients keen to protect their assets against any additional loss. This point meshes with both of the changes I talked about earlier, but the need to aggressively protect assets is worthy of its own mention—as is clients’ expectation that that be front-and-center in any wealth management firm they do business with.

Wealth advisers have always protected their clients’ assets and sought to minimize losses. That’s a given. What hasn’t been a given until COVID, though, is clients’ strong desire for more direct access to their managed wealth than ever before, as well as a relatively newfound need for any resources that make them feel more self-reliant. This is why wealth management advisers must make asset protection as prominent a cornerstone of their provided experience as possible, lest clients think that the competition offers stronger defenses and is thus worth going to instead.

The common theme that threads all of these changes together is clients’ urgently heightened need for a wealth management firm that is both proactive and reactive. Whether it’s speedy account management or ambitious loss prevention, the consultancies that can act fast and make that quick action the bedrock of their customer experience will win out against their peers. More than that, though, clients are seeking reassurance on a human level, which means that those aforementioned late nights on the phone have taken on a renewed importance not just as a source of wealth management expertise, but of meaningful connection in uncertain times.

Want to learn more about how COVID-19 has changed and will continue to change financial services? Click here to read my in-depth Point of View article on the subject.

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