The future of CX in a post-COVID world
CX will have to move beyond its traditional form, according to Richard Owen, CEO OCX Cognition and leader of the team that developed the Net Promoter Score (NPS).
Businesses will increasingly be looking at how they gather and analyse CX data to gain insights, he said at Wednesday’s ‘The Future of CX in the COVID-19 Era’, which looked at how businesses can keep customers at the centre of their decision making in the post-COVID world.
The relationship with the customer has changed
Mr Owen said the COVID19 crisis has caused stress, instability and “extreme volatility”.
“Things we considered normal… seem upended”, he said, and there is a “high degree of anxiety and instability.”
“Most businesses will find they don’t matter to customers as much as they did previously,” he said.
Businesses have been forced into “quite amazing” situations, such as moving call centres with thousands of workers to work remotely. Paycheck protection programs (PPP) in the United States loaned as much in three weeks during the pandemic as they had in the previous 14 years. Banks had to establish the programs in a matter of days.
Yet there have also been spectacular failures, such as in the area of travel.
Crisis has upended normal patterns
In good times, businesses generally operate with shareholders, customers and employees in general alignment, but during the crisis, that all went “out the window”, Mr Owen explained.
Shareholders prepared to take a haircut, and employees became concerned with immediate matters such as job security, safety and health.
Customers most wanted to feel from their vendors that ‘we’re all in this together’. At times like this, there is a “moral imperative” for vendors to “do the right thing”, Mr Owen said.
“Customers are very forgiving” if vendors show they “really care” and that they’re working with customers and genuinely doing their best, he said.
Good customer relations a crisis ‘shock absorber’
Mr Owen said the greatest determinant of how a business will survive the pandemic is how it entered the “period of turbulence”.
“If you have good relations with customers, it’s like a ‘shock absorber’; you will have an advantage, and customers will be patient, to a degree”, he said.
“Laggards will find customers will be unforgiving,” he said.
‘The new normal’
Mr Owen said we are beginning to emerge from the immediate crisis. “Stability is beginning to emerge… but not as we knew it.”
Customer retention and development will be the focus now, he said, rather than customer acquisition.
Companies are going to want to do more with less, he said, and CX data will be valuable in that context.
“We’re going to see this big shift. Customers are going to become more precious. Businesses that grew with lousy customer retention, say with a lot of advertising, are going to find it a lot more difficult to grow than businesses with very high levels of customer retention.”
“Creativity” and “flexibility” will be needed to win under the ‘new normal’. “Our ability to… be agile is going to be more important than ever,” Mr Owen said.
CX journeys are becoming more complex as data is increasingly recognised as a corporate asset.
‘The new strange’
CX will have to move beyond its traditional form, Mr Owen said. For example, businesses will increasingly be looking at how they gather and analyse CX data to gain insights.
“CX has to be more than surveys” he said. Those who fail to adapt “will be left behind”.
Businesses should pick customer segments they believe will be most valuable, and build CX strategies around those customers, Mr Owen suggested.
CX data can also inform decisions about where to cut costs.
“Businesses that understand their customers best will outperform others,” he said.
In the past, businesses that understood their customers and what it took to delight them, were the ones that really capitalised on CX.
That won’t change, Mr Owen said.
“Ultimately, the winners a decade from now are likely to be those that make the right strategy choice; what segments to focus on, which customers to delight, and how to delight them,” he said.
The webinar was hosted by CXforum, and chaired by Jaakko Männistö, co-founder of CXforum and CEO of Feedbackly, and Lauren Todorvic, CEO and co-founder of CarePage.