The New Normal. These words reverberated around the world at the height of the pandemic. It was almost impossible to consume media without coming across the phrase.
A phrase that has become synonymous with a global pandemic that overwhelmed lives and businesses alike. The new normal has altered every aspect of our lives and ushered in new behaviours – from how we work to how we socialise. In this reality, businesses cannot anticipate the return of the old normal. They need to look ahead and adjust customer experiences (CX) to the current times.
The pandemic rewrote the customer experience playbook. We take a look at the new normal customer experience and how the crisis influenced businesses to reframe their current CX models.
“Customer leaders who care and innovate during this crisis and anticipate how customers will change their habits will build stronger relationships that will endure well beyond the crisis’s passing” – McKinsey
Increase in digital experiences
When the pandemic hit, customer behaviours and preferences changed. COVID-19 drove customers to accomplish activities such as working, exercising, and learning in the comfort (and safety) of their own homes. As brick-and-mortar stores temporarily closed their doors during the hard lockdowns seen across the world, online shopping transformed from a nice-to-have into a newfound habit. Customers chose safety and sought businesses that offered touchless and digital experiences, altering how consumers purchased products and spend their money.
Suggested reading: How Digitisation has Impacted Customer Buying Patterns During COVID-19
Demand for convenience and instant delivery
When lockdown restrictions were imposed, in-person customer experiences took the biggest hit, decreasing foot traffic to physical stores. The demand for convenience and in-person experiences that were on par with a pre-COVID-19 world increased. With limited customer movement, brands had to transform service offerings in efforts to exceed customer expectations. Businesses reimagined operating strategies and implemented hyperlocal delivery services. YourStory defines hyperlocal delivery as a service in which the seller connects with the end customer through a digital platform, enabling quick deliveries that cover a short distance.
The rise of “phigital” experiences
COVID-19 altered consumer buying habits and influenced brands to use digital tools to efficiently meet new demands. The customer that brands serve today is socially distancing, making online purchases, or physically visiting the store now that lockdown restrictions have been eased. Forward-thinking brands are on top of these changes and innovating experiences to encompass both the physical and digital spaces, a strategy that has given rise to the concept of “phygital.”
Phygital refers to the blend between physical and digital customer experiences. According to We Are Marketing the notion behind the merging of the two experiences is to deploy a seamless omnichannel strategy and ensure customers get what they desire.
Providing a personal touch via digital channels
With every crisis comes an opportunity. The pandemic presented businesses of all sizes the opportunity to create new digital experiences. With the multitude of possibilities provided by technology, brands could deliver personalized customer experiences from a distance. Brands that innovated during the pandemic continued to nurture relationships with customers, ingrain trust and create that vital human connection. Modern customers are expanding their online presence to fulfil daily needs and protect their health and wellbeing, and brands are rising to the challenge by digitizing the human touch.
The year 2020 threw us all a curveball. Businesses can make the most of the present situation by being there for customers.
Will the new customer dynamics stay forever? Changes are constant and unpredictable. However, businesses can keep up with the shift and continue showing up for customers in times of need.