Good customer experience now centred on safety

22 September 2020 Consulting.ca

A positive customer experience (CX) is now twinned with personal safety, according to a recent report from TMG International, a Toronto-based CX consulting firm. The report, which was co-authored with market research firm Phase 5, polled 83 Canadian organizations and 1,000 Canadian consumers in February and March, with a follow-up survey in June.

As the pandemic hit, survival became a top priority, followed by keeping customers safe. The report found that this forced many to shift focus away from CX, which aims to deliver on customer needs and expectations while aligning with the brand promise to generate customer loyalty.

“When the coronavirus struck in March, and many businesses and provinces went into lockdown, companies struggled to maintain or improve their customer experience – with some even deciding it was not a priority in the face of the challenges of keeping their business afloat or dramatically and quickly changing service delivery," explained the report.

Organizations said the pandemic shifted their focus to the basics of running a business, such as accuracy, product quality, and technology issues. Both customers and organizations said that basics are having the greatest impact on customer experience in 2020.

2020 satisfiers and dissatisfiers

E-commerce companies, however, have been lucky to innately join CX with personal safety. Customers have prioritized safety with all interactions, with retail e-commerce almost doubling to $3.9 billion in May from $2 billion in February, according to Stats Canada. 

The TMG report notes that consumers will gauge business interactions through the lens of personal safety, with customer fear perception (CFP) driving their level of desire to consider a product or service.

Though physical retailers can also twin CX and personal safety, it’s obviously a great deal more difficult than for pure-play e-commerce firms. “It will take a consistent focus, however, to succeed. If bricks and mortar are not able to provide a great customer experience, especially around safety, they may not win back the hearts of Canadian shoppers,” John Bardawill, managing director, TMG International, said.

As firms focus on basic core services, some may feel that wider CX strategy presents too many obstacles at the moment. The report relates that many companies decided that senior CX executives should be among the first to be furloughed when the pandemic arrived.

The inability to quantify the benefit of CX investment makes it more difficult for businesses to prioritize it. CX leaders said they find it difficult to tie CX and employee experience investment to growth and retention. Only 7% of respondents said they calculate the return on investment of CX, with 73% of them saying the calculation is a major challenge. 

Axing CX spending is a “huge mistake,” however, according to Bardawill. “How will companies survive the pandemic if not by providing standout customer experience? A loyal customer base will help a company survive almost any crisis. This pandemic is one of the worst crises companies can face."


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