The Key to Who Survives the Economic Crisis
What will the “new normal” look like? That’s the big unanswered question. There may be some who still think that life will gradually revert to what it was B.C. (Before COVID). But the realists among us understand that any major crisis leaves a permanent mark on our culture. We saw it after 9/11 when our airport experience was transformed almost overnight. What changes to consumer behavior in the current crisis will carry over into the future? What adjustments will you need to make as the “new norm” begins to take shape?
How Has COVID Affected Consumer Habits and Perceptions?
Consumer researchers are working hard to determine what new consumer habits will continue forward in shaping the economic landscape. Even more important than their actual spending habits are the significant changes in perception developing within consumer groups.
The COVID crisis has transformed consumer culture in many ways. High-speed internet in homes has suddenly become a necessity rather than a nice perk to have. Online shopping for groceries grew so fast that local stores couldn’t keep up with the demand. Curbside pickup is suddenly available everywhere from the local pharmacy to corporate giants like Best Buy. Companies are battling to out-do each other in their customer care and expressions of appreciation to the “front-line heroes.” It’s easy to ramp-up customer service for a temporary crisis, but how do you move away from that to a sustainable model as the crisis becomes an accepted way of living?
The heightened concern over exposure to health risks is one of the other big impacts on consumer culture. This is one area that has us all guessing. Will we still be wearing face masks in public places a year from now? What about social distancing and disinfecting protocols? Will the fear of health risks make a permanent change in consumers’ expectations and behavior?
Listen to the Heartbeat of Your Customers
Data collected on consumer behavior six months ago is no longer relevant. Everything has changed. What are your customers saying and doing now? How many of their current practices will continue into the future?
People who had never ordered groceries online have now made it a routine. They’ve discovered that having local purchases delivered to their door saves them time and the hassle of entering a store. Prosper Insights and Analytics found that 30% of those surveyed said they were doing more shopping online and expected that to continue in the future. The most surprising was that those over 65 almost matched that percentage, with 28.3% planning to continue their new online shopping habits.
With more people than ever working from home, the convenience of online shopping is magnified even further. Picking up groceries or dinner “on the way home” no longer applies. It remains to be seen how much of the workforce will transition permanently to working remotely. A significant percentage, 36%, have indicated that they would prefer to continue working from home after the pandemic no longer makes it a necessity.
Remain Responsive to Their Needs
Confidence in the private sector’s ability to meet the needs of citizens has risen. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, 55% believe that businesses are responding faster and more effectively to the crisis than the government.
At the same time, expectations put upon known brands and companies is higher than ever. On the positive side, 62% believe that brands must play a significant role in addressing challenges resulting from the crisis. On the other hand, brands that appear to be placing profit over people have permanently lost the trust of at least 71% of those surveyed.
As helpful as these new statistics may seem, we are still in a state of flux. What reopening will look like and how it will affect the pandemic infection rates remains to be seen. Similar surveys two months from now may prove these statistics invalid due to unforeseen influences.
Be the Brand That Customers Brag About
So, what does all this mean for you? First of all, it means that you need to be paying closer attention than ever to what your customers are saying. Where do their biggest frustrations lie? What service has been the biggest help to them?
Secondly, they need to hear and see your response to their expectations. That means quick, positive responses to their inquiries, suggestions, or complaints. It means supporting local causes and demonstrating concern for employees in tangible ways. They want to be proud to be associated with your brand.
Guest-Note understands how critical customer communication is during this time. We want to be your partner in delivering a customer response experience that is as quick and personalized as possible. We want your customers to brag on you, so you, in turn, can brag on us.