In a short period of time, COVID-19 has disrupted Customers’ normal patterns of life around the globe. Almost overnight, the demand and customer experience (CX) journey has changed, and it seems like the playing field is shifting daily.

Examining customer journey and satisfaction metrics to learn customers preferences have created an acute urgency to address a new set of needs in almost every field including digital health, e-commerce, travel and more. As marketers know, a customer’s interaction with a company can trigger an immediate positive or negative effect on trust and loyalty.  Furthermore, personalization, when done well, improves customer engagement which can lead to higher lifetime value, revenue, and retention.By taking a holistic look at customer experience (CX) journey, leaders will be able to position themselves at the forefront of the longer-term shifts in consumer behaviour that result from this crisis.

While the pandemic has accelerated improvements in CX delivery, it’s also exacerbated existing problems, like the fact that customers don’t rate CX capabilities as high as organizations do. Although there is an acknowledgement by both customers and brands that personalization is important, the report warns of a lack of a shared understanding of what personalization really means.

There’s a disconnect between CX strategy and execution, and between what customers want and what organizations think they want. A typical process of a visit to a website is as follows: users will decline all but essentially cookies, close any support widget that offers help, stop any auto-playing video, and dismiss any newsletter subscription pop-up. So, what can companies do to stay ahead of the curve?

Back to the fundamentals: Care and connection – care for your customers, employees, and community

Digitization and automation are now fundamental to the operational elements of CX and it’s critical to get them right, but customers still want the option of human interactions.  Meet your customers where they are today.

According to the report, effective CX strategies must therefore nurture consumers from digital to human-led engagement – wherever their journey starts and however it progresses.Organizations may be doing what they think is right, but if they don’t involve their customers and employees in the process of customer journey design, and use their feedback to improve CX delivery, they won’t get the results they want.

Data to optimize the fundamentals

Tapping into innovative companies, like Namogoo’s hyper-personalization journey platform, companies such as Asics, Samsonite, the Dollar Shave Club, GlassesUSA and more are delivering customer journeys to fit every shopper.

With stricter privacy regulations, brands will need to skillfully maximize and leverage their first-party zero-party data so they can deliver the personalized experiences. But it goes beyond what consumers intentionally share.

Big data capabilities will play a major role in driving CX value. Organizations with a more mature data analytics capability are quickly moving to capture both structured data and unstructured data to go beyond what customers are telling them and understand what they’re doing. For example, in the healthcare space, Sweetch converts millions of data points using AI and EI (emotional intelligence) to deliver hyper-personalized recommendations.  Also, MDClone is working with major health systems to organize, access and protect fragmented data to deliver better patient outcomes. Similarly, K2View works with data driven enterprises such as AT&T, Verizon, Vodafone, Hertz, to elevate data and deliver personalized and profitable customer experience, in real-time.

Conclusion: Build capabilities for a fast-changing environment

As Plato famously wrote, “our need will be the real creator”, and it has accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Maintaining a strong customer “human-centric” experience in crisis requires an understanding of pain-points and a commitment to grow through innovation. This involves the whole organization - and leaders who can adapt and evolve quickly, will not only survive, but will usher in new opportunities for growth and create value for consumers.

Written By Kineret Muller, Director of Business Development of NTT Innovation Laboratory Israel