4 ways to adapt your business to meet changing customer needs

Library | 10/29/2020

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The COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impacts have disrupted business as we know it and greatly changed consumer demand and behavior. Customer-focused organizations must work to understand and quickly respond to these changes to survive today’s uncertain climate and prepare for the future.


McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm, recently published an article that offers four customer experience (CX) practices that businesses should adopt to help them rapidly respond to change, build resilience, and forge a path to customer-centric success in the days to come.


Prioritize care & concern

  • Be supportive, not salesyCustomers today want to feel safe, understood, and heard. This is your opportunity to step up and provide them with the information, resources and support they need. Your goal right now should be to build trust and loyalty with your customers, not to actively sell or market to them. When customers know you care for them, the sales will come on their own.

  • Demonstrate care with customers, employees & communityShow you care by taking concrete actions that your people will value. That may mean extending payment options for customers, letting employees work from home or taking extra measures to ensure their safety, or offering a portion of your proceeds to help the community food bank. Taking steps like these will help you build positive relationships that will outlast the pandemic.

  • Stay true to your missionThis is the time to prove that your mission statement isn’t just for press releases. If you have built your business on social responsibility and putting your people first, your actions right now need to reflect that.


Meet your customers where they are

  • Be flexible and innovativeDon’t expect your customers to change their behavior to do business with you; it has to be the other way around. If your products or solutions are no longer addressing their needs, come up with new and innovative ways to do so.

  • Expand delivery optionsEven as restrictions may be lifting around the country, you likely still have customers that don’t feel comfortable going out – and may not for the foreseeable future. Offer home delivery, partner with a delivery service, consider curbside and contactless options, etc.

  • Redesign for contactless operationsWhether your business is a manufacturing facility or a grocery store, go through employee and customer processes and look for ways to implement safety measures at every step of the way.


Prepare for a changed world

  • Cut costs without sacrificing CXAs businesses struggle to recover from the initial impacts of the COVID crisis, it’s imperative to cut costs, but without compromising customer experience. Work on reducing overhead, simplifying your product portfolio, shifting processes from manual to digital, and increasing efficiencies.

  • Migrate to digitalEncourage your customers to move to digital channels to work with you. It provides them with safety and convenience and saves you money. Once they make the switch, they may never go back. In China, for example, they have had a 55% increase in people who intend to grocery shop online permanently. 

  • Re-imagine the in-store experienceAs more consumers get used to ordering online and “contactless” experiences, businesses will need to consider what role brick and mortar stores will play in the future. While they might not go away altogether, underperforming stores will likely close, and the stores that exist will have to offer elevated, integrated experiences that tie to digital channels and technologies such as touch-free checkout.


Adopt an Agile Mindset

  • Make faster decisionsIn a constantly evolving marketplace, you must make decisions based on real-time data – not from analyzing data that you got last month. Find novel ways to access real-time sentiment (think social media over surveys) and act quickly and responsively.

  • Experiment with solutionsThe Agile approach values an incremental, iterative approach to problem solving. Test variations on ideas with your customers and expand on what works and eliminate what doesn’t. Which leads to our final piece of advice…

  • Learn from your mistakesDon’t fear failure; learn from it. Look closely at initiatives that you’re rolling out and, if they show signs of failing, be quick to adapt and change course.


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