Consumers have been forced to change the way they work, shop, eat, travel, and even get healthcare due to COVID-19. They are re-thinking what matters most during their brand interactions – safety, selection, convenience, loyalty program, etc. All of this has inherently caused significant behavior changes and forced consumers to break normal habits, which opens the door to brand switching. This is evidenced by a recent survey conducted by McKinsey & Company where 36% of consumers said they had tried a new brand during the pandemic, and 73% plan to continue using that brand.
So, what should CX practitioners be doing? For existing customers, focus customer feedback and experience design efforts on new customers that are trying the brand for the first time. Also be aware of your competition because your existing customers are likely shopping and assessing the new contactless experiences recently put in place due to COVID-19.
1. Ensure a Positive First Brand Experience
Whether you are a retailer or a health insurer, you should be monitoring the experience for first time customers. Did they purchase or enroll, what was their feedback, and have they purchased again? Leading CX companies identify first time customers and present signature experiences or unique offers that can go a long way to increase brand adoption by first time customers. They also capture feedback from first time customers and measure their likelihood to come back. CX practitioners should spend time designing the ideal Welcome experience (first touch point thru onboarding) and put metrics in place to measure the experience to continuously improve.
2. Re-examine Your Loyalty Program
Are your Loyalty program benefits appealing and differentiated from your competitors? The answer to that question was no for a national outdoor retailer. Andrew Reise helped them with a CX strategy that included a future state ideation and design workshop focused on rewarding customers for their loyalty. Hundreds of new ideas were identified and prioritized based on value to customer and company. Several new concepts were implemented, including earning outdoor trips / adventures and receiving new gear as part of a consumer testing / feedback program. These more personalized loyalty offers have contributed to a 3x increase in average customer lifetime value.
Have the quarantines from COVID-19 impacted the ability for your members to participate in your Loyalty program? Southwest Airlines was one of the first to extend their A-List and Companion Pass status. They also credited flights to their existing A-List members to make up for the lost months of normal travel. This lets their loyal customers know they appreciate their business and gives them a reason to come back when they are ready to travel again.
3. Assess Your Contactless Experiences
Are the new experiences put in place due to the pandemic working for your customers? Companies should be collecting continuous feedback on new experiences and how they impact customers future decisions to do business with your brand. Are they easy, do they make customers feel safe and do they maintain as close to the normal high level of service as possible? In addition to customer feedback, companies should also be exploring innovative solutions to stay ahead of your competitors. As an example, American Airlines just received approval to use a new chemical coating that keeps surfaces clean from COVID-19 for up to 7 days. This could be a competitive differentiator for customers that have prioritized safety as their #1 criteria when flying.
Customer Experience is more important now than ever and companies need to go all in to attract brand switchers and retain their existing customers. If you are not focused in these 3 areas, it may be time to re-prioritize your experience efforts through the end of the year. This post was written with my colleagues at Andrew Reise – with more posts, insights, and case studies available at www.andrewreise.com