Marketing and CX during a National Emergency: Getting Real About Customer-Centricity

Customer journey management, from mapping to travel planning, is based on the idea that understanding your customers – their needs, preferences, and behaviors – can help you create a positive and lasting customer experience for them.

At the same time, however, your efforts are not altruistic – you strive for a positive customer experience, as this leads to things like repeat purchases, positive feelings, and long-term loyalty.

But what happens when a major crisis occurs, like a century-old pandemic that affects hundreds of millions of people around the world?

Focusing on customers in these circumstances may not mean maximum value for the customer. Instead, it must be about how you can support them during the crisis.

In fact, it’s time to really know what the customer’s focus is.

The constant, even in uncertain times

As the world responds to the COVID-19 epidemic, all organizations are faced with existential questions about how to resist not only the immediate changes needed to prevent the wider spread of the virus but also the accompanying economic consequences.

In answering these questions, organizations have the opportunity to go beyond formal services and use their in-depth knowledge of their customers to help them in meaningful ways.

The proactive measures you take are not just the right thing to do, they will help your customers in a time of turmoil, gain confidence and build relationships.

Three questions to ask and answer

Now, to really appear in front of your customers, you need to use data and understanding to answer the following questions.

  1. What are the consequences of this crisis for my clients?

While everyone was affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, it affected different companies in different ways. Any type of business that depends on personal or pedestrian interactions – from restaurants and bars to hotels, physical stores, and the travel industry in general – has taken a big hit. In turn, there are consequences for the companies that serve them.

Dive into your customers’ data to see what they can say about the specific challenges your customers are facing. Of course, you will not be able to face all of these challenges and that leads to the next question.

  1. How can we help specifically?

If you run the event business, there is nothing you can do at this point to enable personal events. What can you do?

Well, do you have customers with a 30-day payment term? Extend to 90 days to give them room to breathe and reevaluate the condition at the end of the three months.

Do you offer limited free trials of your product? Remove the edges for now.

That said, every opportunity you have to help is an opportunity to demonstrate your commitment to the customer’s success. This effort will not be forgotten; in fact, it will be of great importance when the crisis is over. This brings us to our final question.

  1. Can the help you provide to customers become your new standard practice now?

Like you, your customers are discovering how to adapt to a new reality. Even those who have not experienced the impact of the crisis so strongly are still trying to navigate through a new set of experiences, including experiences with their own brand. Personal interactions are giving way to digital, and where customers interact with a person, it is now likely a website, chat, or another digital interface.

Some of the changes that we, as a society, are making in response to the COVID-19 outbreak will have lasting power beyond the point at which the virus will finally be reduced. Broader discussions about the newfound profitability of the dispersed workforce or the accelerated digital transformation are already underway in all sectors.

In other words, how much does it cost to go back to the old way of doing business after redefining customer expectations by helping them?

Conclusion

While everyone is adjusting to a “new normal”, some of these new realities are significantly more difficult than others. Using the data to discover your customers’ problems and determine how to help them specifically demonstrates your overall commitment to success.

The path to meaningful change depends on you, but asking the questions above will help you understand where you can make the biggest difference and how to adapt your business in the short and long term.

Customer centricity has always been the key to a meaningful customer experience, but brands now have the opportunity to demonstrate this in ways that go well beyond financial results.