Prepare for unknowns with assured CX tactics


To learn more about CX fundamentals, watch our webinar, “Key Customer Experience Principles That Will Drive Business Success During the Rebound.

I just ran a web search on “Covid” plus “everything changed” and got 665,000 results. That’s a lot of things that have changed, but not everything. The human brain is still wired the same way, though consumers are still feeling uncertain. As marketers, we need to think about customer experience (CX) more than ever. What adjustments should we make — and what can we still depend on to work?

Most of the customer behaviors that have driven CX in the past are still true. People’s past experiences shape their future behavior and that will still impact your bottom line. The elements of a good customer experience haven’t really changed, and customers will still judge your brand by seeing if they got what they wanted or needed, if the process was as easy as possible, and if you left them feeling better — or at least no worse off — than they were at the start of their experience with your brand.

But uncertainty breeds anxiety, and people have been living through a lot of uncertainty. Should they wear a mask and what kind? Will there still be hand sanitizer and food in the store when they get there? People want to know what’s going to happen as much as possible, and right now no one can completely offer that. It’s harder at a macro level, so it’s important to create as much certainty as we can on a micro level. Smart marketers can anticipate sticking points and concerns to help guide their customers. For example, you might tell them, “You’re on step 2 of 5,” or explain why you’re asking for certain information during the check-out process.

There are changes, though, that could be permanent. Old assumptions and relationships are being questioned. Most consumers didn’t used to think about or talk about supply chain. When they hear it now, it means they can’t get something they want. Promises that marketers could make before might be harder to keep now because we can’t depend on partners in the same way.

With the new uncertainty in supply chain and access to markets, business models might have to be shifted drastically. How you make money — the very economic dynamic of your business — might change. That could make the “right” experience for a given situation different from what you’ve delivered in the past.

Since some employees are on the front lines, they’re now more visible than ever. There’s always been a link between employee experience (EX) and customer experience (CX), but now the employee might be seen as a hero and needs to be visibly supported as they serve and support their community.

Given all the stress, consumer attention spans can be even shorter than before and frustration levels even higher. When we’re stressed, humans get tunnel vision. We focus on (or maybe obsess about) factors we perceive as threats. Anything else is more likely to be missed or ignored. Focus on your key marketing messages and keep them clear. 

There’s also the economic situation to consider when building your brand’s CX. Many people are hurting financially as well as emotionally. They might be more cautious, and less likely to have discretionary income to spend. This happened during the 2008 crisis, too. People cut expenses down to the bare bones or avoided purchases they didn’t really need (even if they could afford them right away) in order to save for the rainy day that had arrived. 

All of these factors raise the stakes for CX. Missteps in communication or strategy now could be disastrous. The more emotionally charged a situation is, the more people remember it. The current environment makes it very easy to lose a customer that you worked hard to find and spent years serving faithfully. Think through what you say and how you say it.

No one knows exactly how this will all shake out — how long this will last, how lockdowns and social distancing will change consumer attitudes, or which businesses are going to survive. So how do we prepare for these unknowns? By listening. Hear what your customers are telling you about how their expectations are changing, and adapt your marketing to be able to meet them in new ways.

To learn more about how to prepare for the unknowns, watch the webinar “Key Customer Experience Principles That Will Drive Business Success During the Rebound.

And for more tips on marketing fundamentals, check out the rest of our Brilliant Basics series.

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