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Adapting customer experience in the time of coronavirus

McKinsey 02 Apr 2020 12:00

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In a short period of time, COVID-19 has overwhelmed lives and livelihoods around the globe. For vulnerable individuals and the customer teams that serve them, it has also forced a rethinking of what customer care means. Suddenly, examinations of customer journeys and satisfaction metrics to inform what customers want have given way to an acute urgency to address what they need.

Particularly in times of crisis, a customer’s interaction with a company can trigger an immediate and lingering effect on his or her sense of trust and loyalty. As millions are furloughed and retreat into isolation, a primary barometer of their customer experience will be how the businesses they frequent and depend upon deliver experiences and service that meets their new needs with empathy, care and concern. Now is also the time for customer experience (CX) leaders to position themselves at the forefront of the longer-term shifts in consumer behavior that result from this crisis. Keeping a real-time pulse on changing customer preferences and rapidly innovating to redesign journeys that matter to a very different context will be key.

1. Focus on fundamentals: Care and connection

Today’s industry leaders have demonstrated that genuine care should extend beyond the immediate customer base. Italian companies have donated hundreds of millions of dollars to local hospitals and the Civil Protection Agency to combat the virus spread. Many are stepping up to the plate to manufacture important supplies. Luxury-goods companies have refitted cosmetics and perfume production to help produce hand sanitizer. Remote conferencing services companies, who are benefiting from the shift to virtual meetings, have provided free videoconferencing for K–12 schools.

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Keep a real-time pulse on changing customer preferences

Customer experience has taken on a new definition and dimension in the overwhelming challenge of COVID-19. 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.

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ChinaCEO Arne SorensonCivil Protection Agency
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