Once upon a time the word ‘frictionless’ meant ‘achieved with or involving little difficulty’. Almost overnight, we now think of this instead as ‘lacking in friction’ from the definition ‘the action of one surface rubbing against another’.
In the coming months, much of our daily lives will revert to the old normal, but many of our new practices will be here to stay. Some of the new normal practices that emerged overnight in the wake of Covid-19 make sense for purposes of both safety hygiene and consumer convenience. Many businesses who had been slow to embrace digital channels had to take a big dose of medicine that tastes bad now but is healthy in the long run. Other businesses will pivot quickly to serve new audiences and to mitigate an onslaught of customer churn.
Here is a set of predicted changes that will stick and opportunities for businesses to leverage them.
Retail Pick Up- No Touch Zones
Consumers will embrace the idea of not making physical contact with strangers in public places. Retail locations will enhance the designated order pick up as part of a no-touch experience. An order pick up experience should be brand consistent and well thought out, not a corner of a counter where customers pick through bags and tags to identify their order. Space that previously housed cashiers and a line can be repurposed and aesthetically pleasing as kiosks and dedicated pick up zones. Smart retailers will use the experience to encourage loyalty sign ups, rewards recognition and promotions. These can be through digital signage, personalized 1:1 for each order/customer. Here is an idea of what CX leader Sephora could do: The company could leverage the same data that personalizes the app and online experience to greet the customer in a store. ‘Welcome Margaret- thank you for being a VIB Insider and we hope you enjoy the samples we selected for you of “xyz”. Your pre-selected Rewards Gift is in your bag and keep an eye out for our upcoming Spring Sale!’ in a designated pick up cubby.
No Cash Transactions
Cashless transactions will quickly gain adoption. The idea of cash as germ carriers will drive more and more retailers toward cashless transactions, credit card processing tableside and app payments. Organizations will need to work with their financial providers and POS vendors to ensure they are prepared to provide as many payment options as possible.
Reckoning of Consumer Delivery Services
Consumers have become accustomed to the idea of insta-delivery over the last few years. of anything. That is likely going to continue. But now there is an increased awareness of the health risk inherent in this. Drivers are transporting passengers all day and then also your restaurant food and your groceries.
Look for a new rating and certification to emerge around Sanitation. Drivers that invest in sanitation training and demonstrate health safety practices will be able to command a premium. Companies need to look at what requirements they place on the third-party providers they depend on to deliver their goods. They will need to identify how they set standards, measure them and convey this to their consumers.
On-Demand Communication via Text
Social distancing has forced many retail and service providers to limit waiting areas and places. As customers wait in their cars for their food, order, or service provider to serve them, text notifications will be the default communication tool. Companies will need to quickly integrate SMS into their omni channel experiences. This also creates a huge opportunity for companies to capture and communicate via consumers primary devices. Mobile numbers can now be matched up to existing customer records to provide a higher level of personalization. Organizations will need to exercise a higher degree of restraint than they have with email, but the ones that do will be rewarded. This will be a new opportunity to connect with consumers in a personalized way while delivering value and convenience.
In summary, 4 ways companies can better serve their clients are:
- Create an intentional pick up experience. Allocate the right amount of space, branding and promotion to offer recognition and appreciation of your customers’ patronage.
- Offer safety and convenience to your customers with a variety of cashless payment options.
- Delivery is an important part of the overall customer experience. Develop more control over third party delivery services, with an emphasis on Sanitation.
- Take advantage of the SMS channel to save your customers waiting time and exposure; and to improve your personalized communication value to them.
We’re working with our clients to update their Customer Journey Maps to incorporate and increase no-touch experiences and to leverage digital and personalization even more in their experiences. If you’d like to spend an hour thinking through what this could mean to your business, contact us to schedule time or go straight to our calendar and book a spot.