If you lived in Europe a few centuries back, you would have accepted the statement ‘all swans are white’ as a self-evident truth. If asked for proof, you could have pointed to the fact that every swan you or anyone else had ever seen was white. Of course, you would have been quite wrong. The first Europeans to set foot on the Australian continent were surprised to find the local swans were jet black.
In his 2007 bestseller ‘The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable’, Nicholas Talib uses this story as a metaphor to show how we fail to anticipate outlier events. In this context, a ‘black swan’ is an unexpected event with extreme impact.
The coronavirus pandemic is a classic ‘black swan’. Apart from epidemiologists and those with an unusual level of interest in their work, no one expected this. Yet, it’s turned our lives upside down.
Another typical characteristic of black swan events is that they often bring permanent change. Certainly, this looks likely with the current crisis.
Business, in particular, will look different in the post-pandemic world. Some of the ways in which things will change are already taking shape. Others remain difficult or impossible to discern.
Potentially, there are more black swans over the horizon.
As the way we do business changes, CX will also change. From what we know today, there are five major trends to look out for.
An increasing need for agility
In uncertain times, it pays to be light on your feet.
Some businesses have coped better with the current crisis due to their agility. Those that had the technology in place for remote working and selling to or servicing clients online were able to adapt to the changing circumstances more easily.
The need for greater agility will remain.
While the current lockdown is likely to be eased from next month, there’s huge uncertainty over how quickly it can be rolled back, to what extent, and whether restrictions will return if there’s a second wave of infections.
In short, it’s impossible to predict how things will unfold. If you can stay agile, you’ll cope better than most.
In this climate of heightened uncertainty, companies will be expected to become more resilient.
In part, this comes down to agility.
But there’s more to it than this. Shareholders and customers alike will expect reduced exposure to vulnerable global supply chains, greater investment in local communities and contingency plans to deal with future crises.
Consumers will forgive businesses that are unable to deliver their products or services during this first phase of the crisis. They’ll be less forgiving of those left unprepared for future disruption.
Changing customer touch points and the digitalisation of everything
If your business is already online, in whole or in part, you’ll be coping better than most.
If not, you have some catching up to do. The world’s getting a crash course in e-commerce as we speak. Many of those who hadn’t already migrated online inevitably will.
While the lockdown lasts, the only way to communicate with customers for many businesses is online. Even once restrictions are eased, customer touch points will have changed. Far more of your interactions are likely to be online. Your presence here, especially on social media, will become ever more critical.
Changes in what people value
Margaret Thatcher famously quipped that ‘there’s no such thing as society’. Well, it turns out there is. When it came down to it, people chose to prioritise each other’s health over the economy.
As former Bank of England Governor, Mark Carney, put it this week: ‘In this crisis, we know we need to act as an interdependent community not as independent individuals, so the values of economic dynamism and efficiency have been joined by those of solidarity, fairness, responsibility and compassion’.
This is a fundamental shift in thinking. It suggests that a trend that was already apparent before the crisis is set to accelerate dramatically – companies will no longer be judged solely on the quality or desirability of their offerings. More and more, their fortunes will depend on a broader reputation for corporate social responsibility.
Being perceived as authentic will be more important than ever.
How do you achieve this? Be authentic, of course! Fake it and today’s increasingly savvy consumers will see right through you.
First and foremost, you need to understand who you are and what your values are. What’s the purpose of your organisation, aside from making money?
Next, get yourself out there. There are limitless opportunities to engage with your customers given the ubiquity of social media. Let people know who you are and what you have to offer.
Also, get to know your customers and find out what they like about you (and what they don’t). That way, you can serve them better.
Once you really know who you are, the rest will come naturally.
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View the previous nlighten article by Nathalie Schooling: Customer experience in a brave new world for business
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