Customer Experience (CX) professionals, while already under the burgeoning stress of dwindling bottom lines were dealt a sucker punch with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic . The pandemic is a major ‘black swan event’ that impacted businesses and lives around every conceivable corner of the globe. Unlike previous events such as the Ebola or the SARS outbreak, the COVID-19 pandemic is much more impactful in terms of its widespread effects on human lives and behavior.
The rise of the new-normal consumer
Perhaps as its defining feature, the pandemic forced humans into the confines of their own homes. All personal and business interactions are now carried out remotely and nearly all traditional methods of engagement are rendered obsolete. As a result, new methods and technologies were leveraged to enable employees to work and consumers to shop. Whether your business is consumer facing (B2C), or business facing (B2B), processes, practices, and workflows are drastically re-conceptualized and redrawn in alignment with the prevailing paradigm.
As consumption patterns changed, a new league of consumers emerged in the new normal. The new-normal consumer expects a blend of digital and physical mediums to experience safer and seamless business engagement. They prefer products and services related to both work and leisure which can be enjoyed while being at home especially digital-communication methods and ecommerce-based retail activities.
The crisis has renewed focus on health and consumers are going the telehealth and telemedicine way to ensure self-care and immunity. Meanwhile, a near compete lack of outdoor activities (even though slow resumption is in progress) is pushing consumers toward television, social media, radio, and the internet to consume news and entertainment. This means businesses must also base their customer- centric modeling on the new consumer persona. It is critical that they understand the persona well enough to offer curated products and services.
Business imperatives at the forefront
As more and more organizations build their business model around customers, we will experience significantly different strategies aimed at connecting with, enticing, and retaining customers. And the trends already indicate the same. A majority of the companies (84%) are already experiencing an increase in their revenue by focusing on the new-normal customer and targeted customer experience management. It’s just not the companies themselves but reports suggest that a large percentage of the consumers (86%) prefer differential digital customer experience and are willing to spend more on such products and services .
However, this is not without precedence. Even before the pandemic, the quest to build differential consumer experience was on an upswing. The pandemic and its associated fallout have only served to accelerate the pace of re-strategizing and re-aligning processes and practices. Organizations today are making newer investments specifically aimed at improving customer experience.
However, building successful and engaging customer experience is a gargantuan prospect and businesses have barely scratched the surface so far. Experts have claimed that customers of only 17% companies report consistently engaging CX even though 84% are prioritizing exceptional CX. So this raises the question - where are companies falling short?
Challenges in building meaningful CX
Surveys conducted across CX leaders reveal several underlying reasons why organizations are struggling to offer a uniform CX. One of the primary reasons revealed was the lack of sufficient information about the customer that translated to CX professionals not understanding the target group to build personalized experiences. In many cases, even when the customer persona was available and understood, 42% organizations still reported an inability to create meaningful experiences for the individual customer.
Being unable to build customer experiences is one thing, but what about after devising an effective CX? Organizations find it hard to gauge their CX performance and extend on their efforts. This was certified by more than half of respondents who reported a lack of knowledge on what metrics to measure and how.
And finally, the lack of technological knowhow is another major aspect of CX that organizations are failing. Most respondents reported not having invested enough in newer technologies and thus failing to stay on top of innovations. This also hampers their ability to provide seamless omnichannel experiences to their customers.
Countering future challenges in CX
So what can businesses do to stay abreast of the challenges and propel their CX initiatives? Perhaps the most important part is to align objectives internally and plan to attain a single, overarching organizational goal. It is more important than ever to build a customer-centric mindset to create engaging customer journeys. Moreover, adoption of modern technology and data-driven decision making will also go a long way.
In the new normal, creating memorable customer experiences will be the only way to build customer retention, brand awareness, and business growth. Businesses can thus take a leaf out of the Customer Experience Whitepaper by HCLTech for more in-depth understanding of the challenge and definitive strategies they can adopt to counter them.
If you wish to know more, please download the extended POV on Re-Imagining Customer Experience in the New Normal.