Colin Shaw is an official LinkedIn Influencer where he has recognized as one of the ‘World’s Top 150 Business Influencers.’ Colin’s company, Beyond Philosophy LLC, has been selected by the Financial Times as one of the best management consultancies for the last two years. Colin has written seven bestselling books on Customer experience is the co-host of the highly successful Intuitive Customer podcast.
In the 1945 general election in Great Britain, everybody thought Winston Churchill’s victory was a foregone conclusion. Churchill led Britain through war and won, after all. However, Churchill lost the election. Post-war British citizens had endured many hardships and made many sacrifices for 5 years for the greater good. British citizens didn’t want to return to the old world, and they voted for a new world. Post-World War II, the victorious Labor government implemented many sweeping changes, including the institution of the National Health Service, and changed a nation’s culture. The world post-war was very different.
This post-war election story has learnings for what we can expect post-pandemic. Citizens worldwide have endured many hardships and made sacrifices.
From a customer perspective, many people don’t want to return to how things were pre-pandemic. Customers want something different, and organizations that give it to them will succeed, those that don’t will loss like Churchill.
Let’s look into this in more detail.
Disruption to the usual changes people’s habits. Habits are a cycle. Our minds perceive the cue which triggers a response for which we feel a reward. When you disrupt the cue, you can change your behavior.
For example, having children changes your entertainment and buying habits—as well as everything else about your life! Moreover, these changes to your habits and values happen quickly.
How Customers (and Their Expectations) Have Changed
The pandemic forced us to change habits, but changes to habits provide opportunity. For example, many people freed up commuting time by working from home. Many have begun running and biking. The stay-at-home orders changed mine in many areas. For example, now I:
- Exercise at home using an app on my Apple watch rather than going to the gym.
- Pay for everything digitally and haven’t paid with cash for five months.
- Enjoy grocery delivery and haven’t entered a grocery store since March.
We are currently in that grey area between pre-and post-pandemic. Are you going to make Churchill’s mistake and think everything will go back to normal? If not, what changes are you making to your customer experience?
Our values have changed during the pandemic, so we want different experiences. Moreover, all your customer research is out of date, even if it’s from 12 months ago. It is incumbent upon you to figure out what drives value for your customers now, post-pandemic. That is vital.
However, there are some identifiable traits about what people will want.
- Customers will want empathy. They want you to listen to their story and appreciate their hardships.
- People will want to keep their new ways. Recognize people created efficient new systems during the pandemic they want to keep and build your experience to accommodate them.
- Hybrid Experience. People will want the advantages that the digital world provides and a seamless integration with the face-to-face world.
- People have new expectations. People will not return to the old ways of doing things, like paying in cash. Also, people expect efficient delivery to their house and easy returns as the standard, not the exception. Rise to the occasion.
- Customers want to feel safe. Cleanliness is crucial. Customers want a safe, sanitized physical experience, so communicate how you are doing that.
So, how should you respond? The answer lies in the area called Customer Science, the new bedrock for customer experience design.
Using Customer Science to Inform Your Customer Experience
Customer Science is the fusion between artificial intelligence (AI), data, and the understanding of behavioral science. The AI and the data work to give you the metrics of customer behavior. Customer behavior is essential to categorize because it shows what drives value for customers. The behavioral science concepts help you interpret that behavior, to understand why customers do what they do.
Behavioral science also explains why they want what they want, which is critical because what customers say they want and what they do often don’t match.
Customers have changed during the pandemic, and many organizations haven’t realized it. Those companies returning to the normal ways of doing business will continue to see a decline in market share.
However, those that adapt to the “new normal” will see advantages.
The new normal post-pandemic will require new ways of doing things. Customers will also have new priorities and values for their experiences. Organizations have to change their path to get where they need to go. The old way that leads to what customers wanted pre-pandemic heads into oblivion. The new approach leads to new areas of prosperity.
Which path is your organization on today? Are you setting yourself for victory post pandemic or inevitable failure?