How can brands use behavioral science to re-invent their customers’ experience during and post COVID-19? In the light of massive changes in consumer behaviour happening globally, Richard Bordenave, CEO of BVA Nudge Unit Singapore, decoded during a WFA webinar earlier this year some of the trends that may reshape businesses in a soon future.
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The COVID-19 pandemic has had a considerable impact on customer experience due to supply chain disruption, travel bans, preventive measures – but also individual and sectorial hardship.
Such issues inevitably lead to painful moments, including missing products, disputes on refund policies, closed facilities, longer waiting times, frustrating online journeys.
Behavior has been transformed among both customers and employees. The newfound economic and sanitary context is rapidly and dramatically reshaping the business landscape.
Both front-line and back-office workers have in many cases responded to deliver essentials, accommodate concerned clients, undertake initiatives to solve issues beyond their call of duty. Leaders of firms, both big and small, have stepped up to offer their support to their respective communities.
New digital forms of collaborations and socialization have flourished all over, demonstrating an unexpected level of industrial creativity and adaptative ability. While some pre-existing transformations at play have simply accelerated.
How can behavioral science help rebuild customer experience post-COVID?
This unprecedented period offers a unique window for brands to leverage human-centricity (employee experience as well as customer experience) as the foundation of their business’s bounce-back. In times of crisis brands become like people and are judged by their behaviors rather than their storytelling.
Only those that adapt to serve their customers’ new expectations and constraints will survive. Behavioral science can help with this by engaging in the following:
1. Reframing value, reshaping habits
Understand the new needs of consumers and new choice drivers to rethink your value proposition, adapt your marketing mix and reframe pricing. Onboard customers in “new normal routines” nudging the right contact channels. Re-engage employees and sustain the best of what was learnt over the work-from-home period.
2. Making the invisible visible
Help manage the fears and irrationalities of customers and employees, managing expectations and new sensitivities, make hygiene efforts salient, show safety cues along the journey, reassure on health status, manage waiting lines and social distancing. There are a lot of new standards to nudge as new basic defaults of the service quality.
3. Creating positive peak and end moments
The peak and end effect decrees that people judge experiences based on how they feel at its peak (positive or negative) and its end. These emotional moments disproportionately influence brand memories and can build experiences of brands that are perceived as human, caring, helpful and reliable even in difficult times.
They should seek to create magic moments, with more attention allotted to personal situations, reassurances, consideration for long relationships, empowering staff to facilitate “out of script” initiatives, showing effort and accountability to solve tricky situations.
The opposite behavior will build tragic moments via tone-deaf communication, self-serving initiatives, staff hiding behind policies, processes leading to dead-ends, and cross-channels inconsistencies.
4. Building brand trust in accordance with society’s new aspirations
Brands that prove they prioritize the interest of their customer over their own will increase perceptions of trustworthiness and overall reputation. Brands must now ask themselves what actions they could take – that others won’t – to be truly helpful to their customers, employees, and communities in the coming months and years. Are there opportunities to “nudge for good” and demonstrate their contribution to evolving social norms? Brand purpose only exists through measurable behaviors and they need to demonstrate their intentions.
Where to start?
Engaging front-line staff and customers for onboarding in the “new normal” is an essential first step for businesses to ensure that resources are directed to keeping companies afloat in the short term.
However, leadership teams should reserve some bandwidth to plan for the future, using behavioral trends and technological opportunities as an inspiration to evolve business models. This is the perfect moment for brands to challenge their purpose in “a new normal.”
For each time frame, relying on experts of customer experience with a deep knowledge of applied behavioral science and nudge techniques can help businesses respond faster, with bolder moves that secure new competitive positions “in the new normal”.
WFA members can access the recording of the Customer experience in the new normal webinar with BVA Nudge Unit here.