Across almost every channel, be it a digital publication, fireside chat, webinar, podcast, or social media buzz, we hear about how to prepare for a return to normalcy (normal means conforming to something usual, expected, and typical).
There is nothing typical about what has just happened to the world in the past month or two. Our economies have turned over on their heads. We are witnessing the highest levels of unemployment across industries, with some harder hit than others. We have seen a dramatic change in our work culture: working from home has surfaced challenges we once could only imagine.
Most people are working from home. They have to adjust to new balances with dual employment, young children, pets, parents, and others in the mix. We are practicing social distancing resulting in decreased interactions with colleagues, customers, and other stakeholders.
So, there is nothing typical about our current state of affairs.
Because we are organic creatures relentlessly adapting to our circumstances, we become creative. Customers in the future will have new and different needs and expectations. Let us peek into one real-life solution that invites us to consider how the future will unfold.
I offer a couple of examples to show how touchpoints we have touted, studied, and adopted in our practices have more or less disappeared.
“Make my life Easy” is no longer a top of mind touchpoint. It is replaced by “Safety.” A hardware store that has been in business for well over one hundred years immediately recognized this new expectation, this new touchpoint.
Customers must wash their hands before entering the store, and the store also provides a dryer to ensure hygiene. Notice the additional hygiene element in the store response to safety expectations. They built a pedal to avoid touching the faucet handle.
Entry in the store is governed by a greenlight, “Enter when the green light is on.”
Say goodbye to speed as a vital “do it or lose it” business practice. Many CX experts assert that to win customer loyalty, we should not only make it easy, but we should also improve the speed – of resolution on a call, checkout line, response to complaints, and other vital issues relevant to customers.
That is not typical any longer. Note the lines in a retail store that keeps people socially distant. They are not concerned as much about getting to the checkout and exit quickly; they are only concerned about doing so safely. Safety then has trumped speed! I am in line like others; I don’t complain at all about how fast I can get in and out of a retail establishment.
The above are simple but early examples of a future, a future that is journeying through a new script. The pandemic is re-scripting our discipline and will do so in ways we could not have imagined. CX consultants and practitioners will have to innovate and rethink how we will acquire, retain, and create loyal customers.
In some ways, the re-scripting is not new. The new script is emphasizing what we already know. People are driven by fear from the CONVID-19 plague and want to be able to feel they can trust their safety to businesses. Customers have always felt the need for trust but now are more aware of their emotions and expect that enterprises will recognize their feelings.
I have previously written that empathy is the most critical soft skill and has been for a century. The current state of our reality has reinforced the enormous awareness of this vital skill.
This lockdown is the time for CX folks to unshackle themselves from past practices. It is time to innovate and explore new realities that are being defined by an invisible enemy. This hidden enemy has redefined behaviors. These redefined behaviors will redefine our CX practices.
Let us journey on! These are painful, but exciting times.