Customer Experience in Times of Crisis

Many analysts, including myself, have repeatedly written about us having entered a new normal, which is enforced by a so-called green swan event — an event that according to BIS is “extremely [financially] disruptive and that could be behind a systemic [financial] crisis” (brackets set by Thomas Wieberneit). Supply chains are broken, employees need to work from home, stores were forced to close for prolonged times, and so on.

This has the potential to seriously harm the base function of a business, which is helping their customers solve their problems. Looking at the pyramid of customer expectations, businesses are often barely, if at all, able to maintain its lowest level — the level of effectivity — and are far away from making it easy for their customers or even providing them with a joyful experience when interacting and engaging with them.

Hierarchy of Customer Expectations

Figure 1: The hierarchy of customer expectations

Yet, we are in an era where products and services themselves get increasingly deprecated and the experience becomes the main distinguishing factor for continued success.

Still not all organizations are set up to deal with this. Most are not resilient enough to fend off or at least mitigate the disruption caused by a crisis. Some organizations are affected more than others. So are the people who work in these organizations.

These are different problems that need different solutions. Not solving them results in both, employees and customers, not being satisfied.

However, looking at the examples above, two common themes emerge:

The good news is that they have two common denominators: culture and technology.

About the role of culture I have written a while ago: Employees make, and want to make, customers happy. Therefore, it needs a relentless focus on the customer and it is the role of management to make employees happy, so that they can do what they want to do.

Culture is the foundation for a business to be an integral part of the solution of the problem facing its customers.

Then, there is the question of technology. The ability of employees to provide customers with a good experience requires powerful applications, built upon a strong platform, which big companies like Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce or SAP, but also emerging players like Zoho provide.

Wisely selecting a platform and gradually integrating processes and data on it to serve people — employees and ultimately customers, is key to business resilience.

The Building Blocks of enabling Customer Experience

Figure 2: The building blocks of a customer experience platform

This platform provides four elements:

As said above, only few software vendors are capable of providing this platform, along with the relevant business applications and a culture that bases on being part of the solution, not the problem. One of them being Zoho, which recently invited me to their analyst briefing 2020. Many thanks again to Sandra Lo for inviting me to this enlightening event.

You want to learn more about how you can set your business up to be able to deliver the same high customer experience in a post Covid-19 world? Then join me in a webinar on June 4 at 2 pm CET and discuss how you can leverage the opportunities created by this crisis.

I am looking forward to discussing with you!

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Thomas Wieberneit

Helping businesses to improve in Digital Transformation, Customer Engagement, Customer Experience, CRM, Innovation