Over the past 18+ months, we’ve all had to adapt to a new way of living. We’ve found new ways to work, new ways to celebrate, and new ways to connect with each other. One thing that’s been on everyone’s mind is what will life start to look like post-pandemic. Just a few months ago, we got a taste of that as more and more businesses began to reopen and restrictions started to ease.
We started to picture what our lives back out in the world would be like and began to embrace the idea of what our new normal would be. And as meticulously as we planned what our new day-to-day might look like, the Delta variant had other plans. Return to office dates have been delayed. Restrictions have been reinstated. Safety has once again become top of mind.
Recent studies confirm that consumers’ comfort levels are dropping again. The number of people who said they had resumed pre-COVID behaviors fell from 39% in July to 27% in August. Additionally, nearly half say they expect a full reopening to be delayed until 2022 or later, up from 23% in July and from 18% in June. And this, for now, is our “new normal”. With all the uncertainty over the past several months, one thing is certain: there is no “business as usual” anymore.
The recent surge in the Delta variant has truly shown us that something like this can and likely will happen again. From a business perspective, it’s not about getting through this time - it’s about being infinitely adaptable. It’s about taking a proactive approach to ensure your business remains agile, resilient, and competitive - no matter what.
In an ever-changing world, this means putting the safety and happiness of your customers first. It’s about providing options and availability to accommodate their needs. It’s about giving them peace of mind as their go-to brand or bank. That’s why it’s never been more important to recognize how impactful technology can be in enhancing the customer experience. Rather than being a replacement for human-to-human connection, technology can help your teams build stronger customer relationships and personalize at scale.
Here are three ways you can set your business apart and build a strategy for long-term success:
One-to-one personalization: Appointments
One-to-one appointments are extremely effective in giving consumers the human-to-human connection and personalization they crave. In fact, customers have rated personalization as the number one driver for customer loyalty. Even though appointments were a key strategy for consumer-facing businesses prior to the pandemic, many have recently turned to appointment scheduling as a way to keep their customers safe and to provide human-to-human experiences. Through virtual video appointments and in-person appointments, you can provide customers the options they want to safely do business with you.
Virtual video appointments
Did you know? Globally, consumers are now using video calls to communicate with businesses and service providers 67% more than one year ago (Vonage 2021). This increase in video calls demonstrates how much consumer behavior has changed, and how many have adapted to new ways of doing business. Remote video appointments provide businesses a way to connect with their customers on a personal level, without the health risks. This has become increasingly important again with the Delta variant, as many people are choosing to do business virtually to reduce risk.
After the pandemic, many consumers will continue to expect the convenience and safety of virtual appointments. It has empowered them to meet when and where they want to, and has allowed many businesses to expand hours and reach a wider customer base than before. In addition, virtual appointments are extremely efficient. In fact, one top 10 bank in the US has reduced their appointment length by half using virtual appointments. This means customers are getting the same great service while getting valuable time back in their days. From virtual shopping consultations to video banking, video appointments are playing a key role in increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty in the retail and banking sectors.
As many people have adapted to a virtual way of life, there are many people who still prefer in-person interactions. In fact, 73% prefer having in-person interactions with experts when receiving financial advice and 48% of respondents said they prefer to shop in-person at a physical store when given the choice. This is where in-person appointments come in and can help serve your customers who want that experience. By implementing in-person appointments, whether at your store or your local branch, you’ll also be able to better manage customer flow and ensure social distancing.
Pre-arranged time slots eliminate the need for your customers to queue either in your store or branch, or outside if capacity is limited. It ensures they can meet with one of your employees at a time that works best for them and avoid waiting in line.
No more physical lines: Virtual queuing
Speaking of lines… crowd management and a healthy flow of traffic into your branches and stores is pivotal right now. People want to be able to maintain a safe distance from other customers when in your stores or branches. A virtual queuing solution helps with social distancing when your customers need to wait to be seen by an employee. Customers can wait in line without actually being in line, which doesn’t only help with social distancing, it’s a much more pleasant experience. Whether helping with lobby management at your bank or peak times at your store, virtual queuing can provide peace of mind and alleviate frustrations for both your employees and customers.
Plus, if customers aren’t quite ready to be seen, they can adjust their spot in the queue without issue. With estimated wait times and notifications, the waiting experience is vastly improved with a virtual queuing solution.
This will remain an important way to improve the customer experience, especially as more people venture back out to brick-and-mortar locations. No one wants to wait in a physical line - and virtual queuing will ensure your customers never have to again.
Increased engagement: Events
One strategy businesses have turned to throughout the pandemic is virtual events. By providing different types of virtual events, you can easily keep your customers engaged through innovative, interactive experiences. Whether you’re showcasing a new product line or hosting a financial well-being workshop, you can offer entertaining, value-driven events to keep your customers engaged - all while they remain safe in the comfort of their homes.
In addition, you can also provide in-person events to increase engagement. Right now, it might mean limiting the number of people who can attend, but still will provide the in-person experiences some of your customers are looking for.
Regardless of whether you’re looking to engage customers virtually or in-person, events are a great way to build excitement and provide one-of-a-kind experiences in a group setting.
Since the onset of the pandemic, JRNI has been committed to helping organizations build business continuity and long-term success by offering solutions that provide their customers frictionless, safe, and personalized experiences.
If you’re looking to implement appointments, virtual queuing, events, or all the above to increase customer loyalty and drive revenue growth, we can help you! If you’re interested in learning more, then sign up to speak with one of our experts.
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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