Customer experience in turbulent times

Oct 23, 2020

I’ve been a knitter since my second son was born, in 2011 —

but at no point did I have such a deep need to knit as I have in the past six months. Stuck at home for much of spring and summer, working full-time with three kids distance learning, not much else offered that kind of meditative solace.

Others have similar stories – we’re baking, gardening, woodworking, reading more than we have in ages. When our world shrinks down to the tiny bubble of home & hearth, you seek experiences and consolations that fit into that bubble.

Brands have not had the opportunity to provide such balm since World War II. Within this turmoil, we are looking for warmth, escape, novelty, understanding, and distraction.

It can be challenging to do this in a way that still acknowledges our present reality, but the brands that accomplish this are resonating—like AirBnB offering Zoom experiences with chefs and bartenders so you can travel virtually if not physically.

The link between comfort and novelty isn’t always intuitive, but it’s the restrictive nature of our circumstances now that is causing discomfort. Experiencing something new helps us feel more alive and engaged with the world around us—and provides a small reminder of what normal felt like.

What can your brand do to provide reminders of what normal felt like?

Be human.

For the first time in a long time, consumer sentiment is sympathetic to businesses. We’re now very conscious that companies are made of people. Lifestyle images aren’t quite enough to tap this nerve – authentic voices on social media, storytelling about how your brand is coping in the new world, and inventive ways of supporting your customers need to go above and beyond just a graphical approach.

Try stuff.

Take a frank approach to test and learn in ways that might not have felt right in the past, when an unassailable brand image was more important than grit and humanity. Tell your customers that you’re trying some new approaches – digital, marketing, communications, product, service – and see if they’re willing to help you out. Come to them as contributors; it goes a long way in this environment.

Offer comfort.

If you don’t sell yarn or cooking lessons, there are ways to provide some small comfort to your customers. Maybe it’s a new way for groups of friends to shop online, or a virtual shared experience. Perhaps it’s a gift or a coupon. Your customers may be interested in learning something from you that might have felt heavy-handed before, but intriguing today.

All other tenets of customer experience are still core. Your customer must be at the center of your CX efforts. What can you offer in the way of comfort and novelty to take advantage of the current unprecedented good faith for brands?


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