What business leaders are saying about COVID-19 Impact on Your Business?
- ServiceNow CEO Bill McDermott said “the world will never go back to the way it was.”
- Microsoft 365 VP Jared Spataro said “we’re never going to go back to working the way that we did.”
COVID-19 will impact your business so depending on the type of business, the customer experience (Cx) priorities will vary. For example; organisations might focus on supply chain, employee safety, enabling remote work, data privacy & security, internal communication, supplier management, vendor relationship and external stakeholder engagement. However, customer focused organisations will also plan and prepare to respond to their customers’ needs and expectations by putting together pro-active measures like direct communication, FAQs on most pressing concerns, digital channel engagement, sensitive disruption to services, inability to commit to agreed service levels and standards.
Let’s look at a few dynamics in the COVID-19 environment affecting Cx.
Many employees especially customer-facing support and customer service teams are working from home. So without full-fledged access to resources normally available in the work place, will impact their productivity. Customer support employees, for the most part, have not been trained to work remotely and will impair their ability to cope with this new reality. Added to this, the volume of inquiries for support have also increased across the board as per feedback from Customer Support companies like ZenDesk and FreshDesk.
Product/Service Delivery in physical environment has changed. And how?
Brands with retail stores such as Apple, Nike, Starbucks and many more are directly COVID-19 impacted. Their response to managing key stakeholders of their business will determine what they stand for in these challenging times; employee engagement, customer experience, supplier relationships and investor expectations. Apple recently announced that it was closing all stores outside of China. Nike, have followed suit. This, unfortunately, will become more commonplace as closures will be the result of government intervention and companies wanting to protect their employees and customers.
In view of the social isolation arising from the COVID-19 impact, demand for some services is high while others low.
- How do e-commerce companies respond to huge spike in the demand?
- How do companies like Consumer Packaged Goods (CPGs) who offer their products through physical stores/retailers think of Direct 2 Consumer (D2C) delivery?
- And how do companies who solely rely on people mobility such as airlines, travel companies, on-demand rides cope with almost no demand for their services?
With increased demand for their products and services they have a great opportunity to serve the customer needs and further strengthen their relationship with customers. Example; Amazon, eBay, Zappos, Nordstorm and more…..
This is a great opportunity with D2C model, including Unilver, P & G and more. For example; D2C sales now accounts for 10% of Unilever’s revenues, with e-Commerce sales growing by 47% in 2018 to €2.5 billion, Nike Digital already generates a $1B in revenue. Many more have well established D2C delivery and more companies are adopting this model.
No wonder, Adobe reported 33% increase in eCommerce products since COVID-19 outbreak.
People mobility businesses
They have to re-think their business strategy and Cx strategy in view of fundamental changes to the external environment directly impacting their business. Example; Qantas, South-West Airlines, Ritz-Carlton, Hilton, Air BnB, Uber, WeWork and more…..
Change in Customer Journey – needs and expectations
In this heightened environment, emotions like confusion, frustration, pessimism run high and these emotions are amplified when customers are dealing with companies. Companies may notice customers part of the same segment exhibit different behaviors, needs and expectations given their personal circumstances. How do companies deal with such scenarios?
Different dynamics are at play such as customers personal circumstances, their location, local healthcare facilities, government controls, supply chain, mode of purchase/delivery of your products and services.
COVID-19 will impact your business. Cx leaders need to dig into research and data they may already have access to internally. Cx leaders can collaborate with cross-functional teams to envision how the understanding of COVID-19 impact on customer journeys. Identify potential changes in customer journeys and the touch-points that may be most important to customers in these unusual times, and prepare for likely shifts away from existing journeys and touch-points. Evaluating your customer data and forecasting shifts in future wants and needs is a customer focused way to prepare your brand to better serve customers. Your less-prepared competitors will scramble to react.
Customers are asking different type of questions now
Companies need to be prepared to respond to customer questions like;
- How do I keep myself and my family safe while using your product or service?
- Should I alter any behaviours, actions, or buying decisions to minimise my risk?
- How do I know your products are safe?
- How will the interruptions caused by COVID-19 impact your delivery and support?
- Does your brand recommend I do something today to prepare for the future?
Listen and Learn from your customers
Cx leaders are in a better position than others in the organisation to understand how customer needs and expectations are swiftly changing. Start shifting your customer listening strategy immediately:
- Use Voice of the Customer platforms to monitor for mentions of the virus and disease in your survey responses.
- Tune your social listening platforms to recognise broad trends among your customers and specific inquiries directed to your brand’s Twitter and other social media accounts.
- Work with your customer care team to capture and report changes in customer queries and call volume related to COVID-19.
As you can see, COVID-19 will impact your business. For most the impact is affecting companies/industries negatively while for fewer companies/industries they are witnessing a huge increase in demand. These companies have different set of challenges to deal with. In both cases, being customer-centric is the key to addressing needs and concerns of your customers today while preparing to meet their expectations in the future. After all, Cx is a journey and those companies who adapt to new environment and adopt new ways of doing business thrive, while others may or may not survive.