What Will Customer’s Expect Going Forward
As the end of the pandemic hovers on the horizon, we're turning our attention to what customers will expect from companies as standard. There are the obvious things, like virtual tours and product demonstrations, video meetings instead of in-person meetings, and more availability for delivery or click and collect items. These changes have happened as a direct result of Covid, but the benefits to all types of customers go a lot further than keeping people safe.
The convenience that comes with virtual meetings, product demonstrations or house tours will be hard to shake off. Many people will be trying to spend more quality time with their loved ones and they'll want to continue to access services from home. Trade has not ceased completely just because people can't travel, or have to work from home, so we should see less of the “meetings that could have been an email” problem in the workplace and a focus on flexible and remote working. This will open up employment to people who previously would have struggled to balance their home life, and health, with full time office hours. There will, of course, be many things that return to face-to-face conduct, such as doctor’s appointments, fitness classes and support groups, but we expect to see a blending of these traditional ways of working with the new normal.
Retailers and businesses selling to other businesses will need to ensure they maintain delivery and click and collect services for customers who may prefer this type of transaction, and it is incredibly convenient.It can also be convenient for businesses that will have advanced warning of orders placed and plenty of time to pick and pack an order for a set time, rather than reflexively dealing with every customer that comes through the door.
Take a look at how you were working at the start of 2020, and compare that to how things are now. There will be a lot of changes, but it's worth understanding how all these changes came about – for example, you may have had to change social distancing requirements several times when the first lockdown lifted but going forward this isn't something that will be kept into the future.
Understanding the trigger for each change, and the impact it has had on how you function as a business, is vital in the process of working out what to keep and what to discard. Some changes may need to be kept for a while longer, such as mask wearing and social distancing, but these will be relaxed as coronavirus becomes less of a problem. Changes such as a booking system to manage customer or visitor flow through the premises may be worth keeping, especially for peak times.
Once you understand these changes, and you have decided which ones may stay, it is a good idea to get input from your customers. It's easy to set up online surveys which can be emailed to your customer database, or you may ask customers verbally when you interact with them. If you have a physical premises that is open to the public, you could leave a stack of forms by the till or reception area for visitors to complete while they are there.
Combine the findings of your own research with feedback and insight from your customers to create a stable plan for your Covid keepers, and how to phase out changes that you won't be maintaining into the future.
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