Customer Experience in the world’s “new normal” ?


This article was originally published on the World Federation of Advertisers website.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused considerable ripple effects on customer experience due to supply chain disruption, travel bans, preventative measures – but also individual & sectorial hardship.  Such issues inevitably lead to painful moments, including missing products, disputes on refund policies, closed facilities, longer waiting times, frustrating on-line journeys…  This has required some companies to undergo life-saving transformations, while also challenging the value chain of entire industries. The subsequent changing behavior of customers (and employees) in the light of the newfound economic and sanitary context is rapidly & dramatically reshaping the business landscape.

At the same time, there have been cases of substantial engagement levels from both front-line and back-office workers, as they support each-other to deliver essentials. A lot have managed to accommodate concerned clients, and take initiatives to solve issues beyond their call of duty. Leaders of firms both big and small have stepped up to offer their support to their respective communities. Furthermore, new digital forms of collaborations and socialization have flourished all over, demonstrating an unexpected level of industrial creativity and adaptative ability. While some pre-existing transformations at play have simply accelerated.

How can behavioral science help rebuild CX post-Covid times

At BVA Nudge Consulting, we believe this unprecedented period offers a unique window for brands to leverage human-centricity (Employee Experience as well as Customer Experience) as the foundation of their business’s bounce-back. We surmise that in times of crisis, brands become like people in that they are judged by their behaviors rather than their storytelling. Only those that adapt to serve their customers’ new expectations and constraints will survive. Behavioral science can help with this by engaging in the following endeavors:

1 – Reframe value, reshape habits: Understand the new needs of consumers, and new choice drivers to rethink your value proposition, adapt your marketing mix and reframe pricing. Onboard customers in “new normal routines” nudging the right contact channels. Re-engage employees, aiming for them to sustain the best of what was learnt over the work-from-home period.

2 – Make the invisible visible: Help manage the fears and irrationalities of customers and employees, managing expectations and new sensitivities, make hygiene efforts salient, show safety cues along the journey, reassure on health status, manage waiting lines, social distancing… A lot of new standards to nudge as new basic defaults of the service quality.

3 – Create positive peak & end moments: The peak and end effect posits that people judge experiences based on how they feel at its peak (positive or negative) and its end. These emotional moments disproportionately influence brand memories, (cf Daniel Kahneman in “Thinking Fast & Slow”) and can build experiences of brands that are perceived as human, caring, helpful, and reliable even in difficult times.

Create magic moments:  With more attention allotted to personal situations, reassurances, consideration for long relationships, empowering staff to facilitate “out of script” initiatives, showing effort & accountability to solve tricky situation.

Avoid tragic moments: Tone-deaf communication, self-serving initiatives, staff hiding behind policies, processes sending to dead-ends, and all cross-channels inconsistencies.

4- Build brand trust in accordance with society’s new aspirations: Brands that prove they prioritize the interest of their customer over their own are the ones that will increase their perceptions of trustworthiness and overall reputation. Brands must now ask themselves what actions they could take – that others won’t – to be truly helpful to their customers, employees, and communities in the coming months and years. Are there opportunities to “nudge for good” and demonstrate their contribution to evolving social norms? As brand purpose will only exist through measurable behaviors, it is necessary for brands to demonstrate their intentions.

Where to start?

During our Webinar (80 participants), we have seen that at the end of April, most participants (45%) were in the process of re-thinking their customer journeys and building a plan, only 15% were fully ready, while actually 1/3 never stopped trading and have continuously adapted.

Engaging front-line staff and customers for onboarding in the “new normal” is an essential first step for businesses, to ensure that resources are directed to keeping companies afloat in the short term. However, leadership teams should reserve some bandwidth to plan for the future, using behavioral trends and technological opportunities as an inspiration to evolve business models. It is also the perfect moment for brands to challenge their purpose in “a new normal.” In each time frame, relying on experts of customer experience with a deep knowledge of applied behavioral science and nudge techniques can help businesses operate faster, with bolder moves that secure new competitive positions “in the new normal”.

Interested in knowing more about how to improve customer experience by design? Get in touch.