While there have been many silver linings to the pandemic, one of the biggest and most positive advancements was digital transformation. Although digital transformation has been at the forefront of many organizations’ strategies for years, COVID-19 accelerated this transformation at a speed that no one could have predicted. With the necessity of virtual offerings during this time, consumers have come to expect the convenience of doing business with you whenever they want and wherever they are. Digital transformation has empowered customers to do business on their terms.
And while vaccinations are happening across the globe, and we know a post-pandemic world is in the near future, we are still navigating this unusual time. That’s why we want to share some tips on how you can be successful now and in the future. These tips are not only important to consider and implement now, but will continue to give your customers the experiences they have come to expect. By providing a blend of hybrid experiences, you will be able to build stronger customer relationships and improve customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Convenient curbside pickup and service options
Whether you’re offering curbside pickup or services, direct shipping, or click and collect - customers want options. One of the most successful and loved services (and the one we recommend you implement ASAP) during the pandemic has been curbside pickup. Why? Because it gives your customers a safe option while also giving them on-demand service, and instant gratification following an online purchase.
Why it matters now: At the start of the pandemic, curbside pickup skyrocketed. In fact, it increased by more than 208%. Right now, curbside pickup not only gives your customers the convenience they want and quick turnaround they expect, but it gives them a safe and easy way to do business with you. We know a post-pandemic future is around the corner, but many consumers still feel safer doing business via curbside options. Whether your staff are delivering orders to your customers curbside or your staff are providing curbside banking services, your team can deliver exceptional experiences by allowing customers to stay safe in the comfort of their cars.
How it benefits you in the future: The truth is, curbside pickup and service options are here to stay! Your consumers love it, and want to see it continue post-pandemic. In fact, 87% of consumers said they want businesses to continue to offer options like curbside pickup after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Another important thing to note is that even if you are already offering curbside services, there is always room to improve. One of the most important aspects of providing curbside is to have clear communication about how your service works. Telling your customers where to drive up, park, how to “check in”, and what to expect will continue to keep them at ease during these uneasy times and keep them coming back to do business with you.
Personalized, one-to-one appointments
After months at home, your customers are craving human connection more than ever. And guess what? That’s not going to change post-pandemic. As we start to embrace the “new normal” - the expectation for true, personalized services is likely to increase. After all, we are in the experience economy!
Whether in-person or remote appointments, you can drive value for your organization, improving customer satisfaction, increasing ROI, and giving your customers the personalized service they want.
Why it matters now: The time has truly never been better to deploy and rely on appointments to run a safe and efficient business. First, appointments help control and maintain safe capacity and social distancing. Additionally, they put control into your customers’ hands during an uncontrollable situation (this circles back to empowering your customers). Finally, appointments give the human-to-human experiences your customers are looking for. A recent study confirms that 47% of consumers find the human element an integral part of their shopping experience. Regardless of what industry you’re in, human connection matters.
How it benefits you in the future: Similar to curbside services, many consumers will continue to want the new service options they have become accustomed to during the pandemic. 63% of consumers say that given the choice, they would prefer to pre-book an appointment rather than wait in line for entry. Additionally, 57% of consumers say they are more likely to book an appointment than they were prior to the pandemic.
And as the world continues to change and technology evolves post-pandemic, we cannot drive home the point enough about the importance of offering human-to-human experiences. Appointments are the way to do this. Don’t believe us? These stats from a recent PWC study on customer experience might change your mind:
- 75% of consumers want more interaction with a real person as technology improves
- 71% of consumers would rather interact with a human than a chatbot or some other automated process
- 82% of consumers want more human interaction when purchasing products and services
Your customers want to build real connections. And you can use technology to build these types of personalized experiences at scale. We applaud all who are already building an experiential relationship management (XRM) strategy, and using technology to make it happen. Appointment scheduling in 2021 and beyond means delivering the personalized experiences your customers expect and need! Providing appointments is one of the best ways to exceed customer expectations and gain a competitive edge.
Ramp up your communication
Clear communication with your customers has always been important. That’s nothing new. But what started in the transaction economy as simply communicating your products, prices, and sales turned into a much more complicated world: social media, digital email communication, website messaging, and in-store or in-branch messaging. And now, in the experience economy and during the pandemic, communication - and a touch of personalization - could not matter more! Your customers want to connect with you, and feel like you connect with them. With proper communication, you can help your customers feel at ease and cared for.
Why it matters now: Since the start of the pandemic, people have had heightened anxiety surrounding how they interact with businesses. To mitigate customer anxiety, you should provide clear communication about your business operations, guidelines, and services, including:
- Your business hours
- Senior and essential worker hours
- How you’re managing crowds
- How customers can wait in line or join a virtual queue
- Contact information - phone number, email, and other ways they can get ahold of you
- Curbside, click and collect, and in-person service processes
- What types of payment methods you accept
- Alternative service options (are you providing remote appointments or video banking?)
Additionally, you should continue to communicate all safety measures with your customers. Through your social media channels, your website, email campaigns, and effective signage - you should remind your customers what you are doing to keep them safe. And thank them for being a customer! A thank you can go a long way!
How it benefits you in the future: Having clear communication is always going to be critical for a great customer experience. But especially as things begin to change again or become more “normal”, customers are going to want to know what to expect, and how they can continue to safely do business with you. They are going to want to know what’s changing, what’s staying the same, and what to expect from your business moving forward! Providing an open line of communication with your customers on a variety of digital platforms and in your physical locations will help improve customer satisfaction because they know exactly what to expect.
Provide self-service options
Providing a way for customers to choose how they do business with you AND to set it up themselves is truly empowering. This puts more control into the hands of your customers and allows them to do business on their terms, giving them an overall seamless experience.
Why it matters now: Offering your customers a sense of control during an uncertain time will help them feel a sense of security amidst the chaos. By giving them a way to schedule, reschedule, or cancel a pickup or appointment, they get to choose how and when they do business with you. This is another way to empower your customers, and will keep them coming back for more.
How it benefits you in the future: Giving your customers the flexibility to manage their experiences with you will continue to build customer loyalty. Whether booking a remote or in-person appointment or curbside pickup, your customers should be able to manage this process on their own. Having self-serve options creates a more personalized experience and allows your customers to take charge of how they do business with you.
Whether now or in the future, your customers will continue to expect omnichannel experiences and continual communication. By diversifying your offerings and delivering exceptional experiences, you will earn your customers trust, increase customer satisfaction, and improve your bottom line.
To learn more about how personalized, one-to-one appointments provide human connection and drive ROI, then download our eBook “The ROI of appointments”.
About the author
The JRNI team is made up of product, customer, and technical experts who are focused on driving personalized experiences - for our customers, and for theirs. The JRNI blog enables us to dive into how retail and financial organizations can use personalized experiences to grow profitability, build stronger customer relationships, and drive customer loyalty.
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