How Will Customer Expectations Change Post-Covid?
In my last article I talked about the evolving role of customer service and how a combination of customer expectations, technology, and the changing customer journey have all led to a dramatic increase in complexity. Customer service now requires far more detailed planning than in even the recent past.
But the customer experience in general was evolving before the Covid-19 pandemic. We could see the growth in asynchronous chat years ago and the explosion in the use of social media channels, such as TikTok and Instagram, was also taking place before Covid. This digital landscape has transformed how customers engage with brands and created a much closer relationship and bond between customers and the brands they love.
But in some industries the customer experience has been entirely, or partially interrupted, by the pandemic. In some cases there will be a permanent change in the relationship between brands and customers or even a complete change in how they continue to interact. Have you already started planning for this change?
Here are a few ideas where I think we will see permanent change that needs to be factored into all customer experience planning from now onwards:
- Food delivery: a renewed focus on hygiene and the ability to exchange food from the restaurant to delivery rider to customer with nobody ever handling the food except the chef and customer.
- Retail: the ability to offer simple and fast delivery or pick-up when regular stores are disrupted, even if you don’t have a full-scale e-commerce facility.
- Entertainment: how to guarantee customer safety and hygiene when we are finally allowed to start organizing major shows and concerts again.
- Online banking: for many customers this is now banking - there is no online or traditional - any online service has to be full-service or they will move on to a rival.
- Travel: how to offer reassurance that, if plans need to change, then any advance bookings can be more flexible and not just automatically lost if travel is cancelled.
The most obvious effect of the pandemic has been the almost universal acceptance of work from home (WFH) as normal and safe, but as it is easy to see from these bullets, there is going to be a big change across many different industries before we see a genuine return to normal.
Many customer expectations have been reset or completely changed. What will convince customers to now book a long cruise other than flexibility on the booking itself and an assurance of safety on board the ship? Companies across many different industries cannot presume that the vaccine rollout will quickly lead to “normal” customer behavior - you need to anticipate the potential changes now. Customer experience has been sharply interrupted by the pandemic and now we need to consider how new expectations will be formed.
Our Transcom team in the US was already WFH before the pandemic, so our customer service operations here are naturally more resilient and distributed, but we have deep experience in digital services and a blended approach - we have contact centers across the world that can be blended with WFH agents. In fact, our US team has over 15 years WFH experience and a management team with over 100 years experience of leadership. We were the first work-at-home BPO to ever become COPC-certified.
If you need to think about how the pandemic will affect your customer service strategy in future then feel free to contact me here. Let’s talk. We have over 28,000 highly skilled agents working in 33 languages so I’m sure we can share some ideas.