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Using Customer Experience to Thrive in the New Normal

In May, Stack’d consultant Sarah Damberger published an opinion piece reflecting on all the uncertainty surrounding the phased re-opening of retail spaces and workplaces. Months later, it’s safe to say that this summer hasn’t quite gone as planned for most of us. Businesses are still grappling with a high level of uncertainty and governments are navigating the prospect of safely returning kids to schools. But one thing is certain – what we thought were temporary protocols and precautions are evolving into a longer-term “new normal” for businesses.

While many establishments were quick to tack social distancing and sanitization protocols onto their existing health and safety procedures, these “temporary measures” are becoming increasingly infused into everyday operations.

How does the long-term need for these measures impact your Customer’s Experience? And how can you create more permanent, thoughtful solutions that not only meet health and safety requirements, but create experiences that delight your customers?

As we wrap up our summer “staycations” and face the next big transition of bringing kids back to school in the fall, it’s time to once again consider your customers. As we adjust the the “new normal” this fall, it’s important to consider how we can keep providing consistent, high-quality experiences to every customer we serve.

Here are some rules of thumb to follow and ideas to inspire you to start creating great customer experiences as you continue to navigate these uncertain times and beyond.

  1. Look from the outside in: Building a great customer experience requires looking at your business through their eyes and creating great experiences based on what they want and need (while still achieving your own business objectives). As you create new processes to stay safe and continue social distancing, think about different ways you can make those clunky processes smooth for customers. Look to examples from healthcare providers finding ways to show a friendlier face to their COVID-19 patients or making health and safety protocols more accessible to those with disabilities. Hospitality providers have also created new ways to improve Customers’ experiences and reduce risk for them including curbside pickup options, QR code menus / brochures, and care packages of pre-packaged snacks.
  2. Ask how you can help: Understanding your customers’ needs and challenges is key to creating an amazing experience for them. If you do everything you can to make things a little bit less uncertain for them, they’ll appreciate and remember it. Also, don’t just ask once, ask frequently – we are all continuously forming and reforming our opinions on what we need and what is and is not acceptable in this new normal. Your customers might also have some great ideas for different ways to offer your services that are more convenient for them – all you have to do is ask!
  3. Experiment: Come up with different ideas to improve the customer experience for all of your customer types and test them. See what works, and what doesn’t work by seeking feedback. What might create a great experience for a child, might be very different for an adult and that’s okay. Your approach to CX needs to be multifaceted or else you won’t meet the needs of every customer.
  4. Don’t Fake It: It’s pretty easy for customers to figure out if a company genuinely cares about their needs or if it’s all lip service and window dressing. If you don’t actually care about your customers and their experiences, your CX improvement efforts will fall flat. This is a marathon, not a sprint and you need to be passionate about driving CX forward.
  5. Do what works for you: Do what’s feasible for your business but focus your CX efforts on meaningfully adding value for your customers, not just generating “good press.” Great CX will look different for everyone as businesses operate in this environment, so don’t compare yourself to others – choose the path that works best for you and your customers.

Improving your customer experience is about showing your customers that you’re all in this together by providing a phenomenal experience when your customers need it most. If you do this, you can operate safely without compromising the quality of your customer’s experience.

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