Elements of this image furnished by NASA
In the past, customer experience was the only way to differentiate your brand from a sea of identity. Now the challenge is not only to stand out, but to rotate, innovate and transform. These three buzzwords are much easier said than done. This is not the time to tremble in fear and count our losses, but to be a leader in helping customers get back on their feet. We are now serving a client who has been financially affected by COVID-19, who wants to be a contactless and digital client and who will live differently for some time. In modern life, we have been fortunate not to have experienced a global catastrophe of this nature in over 100 years.
Even if we haven't had a pandemic for many years, we can look back on history assuming that there will be major lasting changes in the client's mind, as well as how we manage our businesses and governments.
The Black Death, The Spanish Flu, WWII, 9/11 And … COVID-19
In a recent podcast with David Mayer – Senior Partner at Lippincott Customer Strategy Consultancy – we thought about the pandemics in history to think about how life could change tomorrow. For example, in 1300 the Black Death in Europe killed 25-30 million people. Historians were credited with putting an end to feudalism by structuring society around relationships that stemmed from ownership of the land in exchange for service, work and servitude. The Death Star also ushered in lighting – a series of 1700 ideas – focused on celebrating reason. The new goals of rational humanity were happiness, knowledge and freedom. Here we also saw constitutional government and the separation of church and state.
The Spanish flu of 1918 had between 50 and 100 million lives (2.5% of the world population). Subsequently, many governments socialized health care for all, while the United States initiated employer-based insurance plans. In addition, countries have recognized the need to coordinate public health internationally.
During the Second World War (1939-1945) women came forward to perform jobs largely occupied by men (think of Rosie The Riveter – a cultural icon – who sports a red bandana, a strongly flexed biceps and generally a "We Can Do It!" quote). Efforts to temporarily reduce social and legal barriers persist after the war, leading to an acceleration of female labor force participation. So the men came home from the war, went back to work, got married and moved with their wives to the suburbs to participate in the "baby boom".
The attacks of the World Trade Center on September 11 have reshaped transportation and security policies around the world. There have been collective and permanent changes in society's attitudes about the compromise between privacy and personal security. People have accepted higher levels of screening and surveillance in the interest of collective security. Many toiletries – to date – are still thrown away at the airport and we hope you are not late for a flight and forget to have a disposable water bottle half filled in your bag. Some airports have you take your shoes off, others don't. Many of us are still confused by the rules 20 years later. But these rules – and greater safety in general – have made flying much safer in general. Today it is safer to fly than to travel by car.
Customer Experience Mentality in the COVID Era
COVID-19 – coronavirus pandemic – will have a lasting impact on the client's condition. Customers have lost loved ones, jobs and businesses. Even when life has somehow returned to normal, people around the world will have a new hyper awareness of getting sick from the daily activities of the past that they took for granted. Flying on the plane, eating a buffet or having a manicure is a distant dream for many. Customers are nostalgic for a time when we could simply live our lives normally, without the new tension that COVID has caused to everyday life.
"The future is here but it is not evenly distributed"
Science fiction writer William Gibson once said, "the future is here, but it's not evenly distributed." COVID-19 is the pressure companies need to start leveraging available technology to make life less complicated, and there are many benefits of taking advantage of this technology.
We have seen the approval of telehealth by insurance companies (insurers now reimburse virtual doctor and therapy appointments – but not for many years), a better supply chain for deliveries of all kinds, donation programs and donations much larger companies, and allowing employees to work remotely in areas that previously banned it. The digital and contactless customer was received in an unprecedented way. Pollution is very low. In cities around the world, residents can see mountain tops for the first time – emissions have dropped so significantly. Is this an alarm bell for emissions-producing industries and businesses that have the power to impact the environment? Another impact of COVID-19 is the exposition of how ill-prepared governments face global catastrophes.
Back to Normalcy customer experience?
When we go back to normal, it won't be normal. You will need to know the customer's comfort levels with all the shopping experiences. First of all, you may not see a customer in your shop until next autumn or winter.
And in-store purchase preferences have changed. For example, without a vaccine, shoppers will be less likely to want to try makeup from shared sample products or try food samples in stores. They may want to disinfect clothes between tests or be sure that touchscreens are cleaned frequently.
Below is an infographic that illustrates in detail the 7 ways in which COVID-19 has influenced the mentality of the customer experience at an individual and social level.
Customer Experience Mentality in the COVID-19 Era
Extended statistics on the COVID-19 customer experience mentality:
1. Traumatized societies
18% of people have a family member or friend whose health has been compromised by COVID-19, including 5% whose family member or friend died of disease * USA Today
In China and Italy, one third (31% and 33% respectively) have a family member or friend whose health was affected by the * Agility PR virus
COVID-19 has left millions jobless, has sent billions into solitary confinement and has forced almost everyone on earth to deal with the feeling that they or those they love are suddenly physically vulnerable – * CNBC
Anxiety and emotional impact
22% of people say they feel anxious about being confined to their home, 18-24 years are the most anxious 32.7%
-65+ less anxious by 16.4%.
-The Northeast in the United States is the most anxious to be confined to their homes 24.9%
19% worry about running out of money, with 18-24 among the top concerns of 32.4% and 65+ lower than 10.3%
44% now (April 2020) claim to be very or somewhat pessimistic about the fact that the government will be able to solve the coronavirus problem, in March 2020 pessimism was 35.4%
* All the statistics reported above by Prosper Insights
2. Consumer confidence
In the absence of consistent government information about the virus and amid growing skepticism about fake online news, people trust businesses more than they trust their governments. They want companies to take care of employee well-being in moving products and prices to create a sense of community.
62% say that their country will not be able to overcome this crisis without brands playing a fundamental role in facing the challenges
– In the United States, 51% of respondents say they trust that their employer is well prepared, while 43% say they believe the country is
55% say brands and businesses respond faster and more effectively than the government.
71% say that if they perceive that a brand is generating profits on people, they will lose trust in that brand forever
* All the above statistics from Edelman Trust Barometer
3. Consumers are spending now
Consumers plan to be cautious, even when the spread of the virus subsides, with substantial implications for economic and social recovery Currently, 37% of consumers prefer to satisfy their main needs while indoors, including work, virtual socialization media consumption and making retail purchases essential.
"Aside from necessities, I don't shop for any dealers until this pandemic is over." (Female, 55–59 years old)
* Above Forrester statistics
95% of consumers want companies to implement physical protection and spacing measures to keep them healthy
65% are currently postponing their purchases and travel and 52% intend to continue making changes to their purchasing behavior
34% are postponing the most important life decisions and 26% will take the planning of the most important decisions after the pandemic more seriously
27% are currently saving more than usual and 26% plan to save more than normal
Online shopping is the new normal and 30% expect to buy more online in the future, even 28.3% of the 65+ say so and 33.8% of the 18-24
* Above Prosper Insights & Analytics statistics
4. Employee expectations in the future
36% of those working from home said that they would like to continue working from home after the pandemic is over. Men 40.7% and women 32.5% * Prosper Insights
The states where unemployment rates are expected to be highest in the coming months are based on leisure and hospitality, travel services, transportation, storage and extraction of oil and gas * USA Today
Investing in a "work from anywhere, anytime and on any device" model and implementing best practices such as these benefits companies in the midst of a crisis. It generally makes it easier for employees to be productive and effective every day. * Autodesk
5. Technology, acceleration of digital transformation and adoption of the robot
Companies that provide digital transformation services are doing well
Organizations that excel in CX are investing in methods to centralize analytical and decision-making approaches and scale them exponentially, across all connected channels. CX leaders are investing in customer data platforms (53%) and real-time decision engines (45%). * Pega
Companies that sell remote work tools and video conferencing platforms are doing well
Technology is hiring
Facebook, Amazon, Google and Apple all take on technology assignments including engineers, data scientists, software designers and cyber security experts * CareerBuilder
Amazon is advertising over 20,000 open technology jobs in addition to the 175,000 new shipping and logistics roles it recently announced to meet the growing demand for home deliveries in the midst of coronavirus.
Facebook will hire 10,000 new workers in product and engineering teams by the end of the year * Business Insider
Instacart is hiring 300,000 new full-service buyers * TechCrunch
Absorption in robots
The 13% increase in average use of brain-powered robots has increased since January 2020 in retail stores, e.g. floor washing robot in Walmart
Robots in South Korea have been used to measure temperatures and distribute hand sanitizer
McDonald is testing robots such as cooks and servers
* All the statistics reported above by the BBC
6. Companies that thrive among COVID-19
Peloton – the home gym equipment company – shares have risen by more than 50% since mid-March, when the coronavirus started spurring blocks that have emptied office buildings nationwide. Tuesdays were recently raised 0.6% to $ 31.25. * NY Post
Netflix added 15.8 million subscribers in the first quarter, more than double the expected 7.2 million, an increase of over 22% year on year. Netflix now has 182 million subscribers worldwide. The company also reported quarterly revenues of $ 5.77 billion versus the estimated $ 5.76 billion * The Verge
Amazon shares have risen 40% since mid-March. Jefferies estimates that it could almost double in the near future * Geekwire
An analysis by RBC Capital Markets, which has just conducted its fifth annual user survey of online food trends. He concluded that Amazon's online food arm could produce $ 70 billion in gross volume of goods by 2023 – more than 3 times since 2019 – becoming a material part of its total revenue * Geekwire
Walmart shares rose 11% in 2020 * Investor Place
Walmart's U.S. sales reportedly increased 20% in March, when people stocked up on staples, further boosted by a 190% increase in monthly downloads of its online food app, according to 39; Annie * Fortune data monitoring app
7. New appreciation for normal life
Today, a third of consumers fully agree with the suggestion to reevaluate the things he appreciates most and not take certain things for granted * Ernst & Young
In conclusion, COVID-19 has infected nearly three million people, with 875,000 recoveries and 207,000 global deaths (55.5,000 in the United States alone) since April 27, 2020. COVID-19 has traumatized millions of people and will have a permanent impact on how in which to perceive our environments, the way we work, the way we involve customers and the way governments plan the future. One thing has been clarified; not being agile – or ready for anything – can be a big danger. We must learn to move quickly and in understanding the new customer mindset experience, we will continue to have customers.
Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, lead speaker and author of the hit book The Customer Of The Future. Sign up for his weekly newsletter here.