By Satish Dave, executive director, customer experience, Kantar Middle East
Customer experience is even more critical in these times due to the consumer behaviour changes that have resulted from the Covid-19 pandemic. Brands that are succeeding in these difficult times are doing so by keeping their customers engaged and entertained – with online games and how-to videos; by responding to customer anxieties; with payment deferrals and increased in-store hygiene; by reducing customer effort, such as with automatic extension of flight ticket validity; and by contributing to the community, in feeding the poor and protecting wages.
That said, Kantar’s CX+2020 study in UAE shows brands need to work harder to build lasting memories and reinforce brand choice. Life during Covid-19 and beyond offers new challenges, and what brands say and do now will be remembered long after the crisis has passed.
Here’s how brands and retailers in the Middle East will need to adjust to better meet and exceed these customer expectations.
The following five CX pillars remain the blueprint of excellent customer experience:
-Clear brand promise:What the brand stands for needs to be clearly articulated and understood.
-Empower employees: So that they provide proactive, responsive and empathetic service
-Empowered customers: Let them ‘do it their way’ through frictionless and relevant digital and omnichannel excellence.
-Lasting memories: Ensure positive emotional moments are created throughout the customer journey
-Reinforce brand choice: Deliver experiences that exceed expectations to generate loyalty, advocacy and greater customer lifetime value
The global Kantar Covid-19 Barometer study shows that e-commerce has grown significantly in the past month as physical shopping dropped both in UAE and KSA. Whether this will remain post-Coronavirus depends on brands delivering great CX. With more categories experiencing first-time online buyers, it’s imperative for brands to ensure their digital and omni-channel experience is seamless and safe.So these consumers return to shopping, as many are yearning to return to physical touchpoints as soon as it is safe to do so, and others are choosing to shop online yet pick up in-store.
That’s why there’s focus on omni-channel and creating good overall experience to keep customers sticky, as the likes of Netflix and YouTube have made it easy for consumers to log in on one device and continue the experience across others. We now expect this from all brands. There’s also an opportunity to move towards cashless payment and to retain contactless behaviours post Covid-19, with close to 70 per cent of respondents saying they will prefer these methods.
In the new normal, factors of trust and empathy for people, customers and employees will be more important than ever before, as seamless and delightful customer journeys remain key.
Customers will want you to be where they are, so brands will need to go virtual with video incorporated where possible, to maintain human touch even when working remotely, and blend approaches and offer truly rich CX. This means that many brands will need to invest in new technology, digital and AI options in order to offer the best possible customer experience, as these new avenues of engagement play a role previously unimagined with empowered employees and customers post-lockdown.
These are tough times for all of us but hopefully we will come out of the other end stronger.
In sum:If we were to revisit Simon Sinek’s How Great Leaders Inspire Action,it is clear that brands need to revisit the WHY (the brand promise and brand purpose) and also the HOW and WHAT. The 5 CX pillars shown above do provide a good blueprint of what needs to be done during and after Covid – brands will need to reimagine, restart and refresh many things – and keep in tune with the fast-changing times and consumer needs.