As it appeared in the Daily Nation on May 5th 2020
Dr. Lucy Kiruthu
In the last few months, some businesses have evolved amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. At the core of this evolution has been the need to adapt to changing consumer behaviours. Since time immemorial, consumers have been changing their behaviours. In particular, today, they have changed how they interact with businesses especially how they buy and how they make payments. Further, customers’ expectations have risen; they have become more demanding, yet less loyal as they look out for the best value for their money. Because of the changes in consumer behaviour, some businesses have had no choice but to adapt others have had to slow down or completely shut down. During the ongoing pandemic, the change in consumer behaviours has been escalated by the need to take precautionary measures to stop the spread. In response to this, some companies have redesigned their customers’ journey.
A customer journey represents the path that our customers travel through when doing business with us. It encompasses the sum of the customers’ experience when interacting with our businesses from the start to the end. This journey has various points of contact. Various channels and personal interactions aid the contacts or even make them painful. Most customers’ journeys have been recognized as having five phases namely; awareness creation, consideration, purchase, service, and loyalty. Other businesses simply consider three phases namely; pre-purchase, purchase, and post-purchase. Smart companies do not leave any of these phases of the customer journey to chance; they are intentional not only about a single phase but more importantly they focus on the overall experience.
In redesigning the customer journey, we must ask ourselves several questions. What has changed about how our customers act or react? What do our customers expect of us during this pandemic? What are our customers most concerned about today? What will make our customers want to continue doing business with us? What has changed in how businesses interact with customers? How should we start and end every interaction? What adjustments have we as a business already made? What further adjustments do we need to make? How soon do we need to make these adjustments to how we interact with our customers?
Today, customers expect that businesses will be more empathetic than ever before. I believe customers expect businesses to show that they care about what is going on globally and especially about their wellbeing. Customers also expect that businesses will introduce new channels that are in line with the changing times. For example, they expect businesses to move away from physical interactions and provide a seamless online experience where possible. Customers expect that businesses will be more accessible through multiple communication channels
The redesigning of the customer journey will require a customer-focused leadership able to show the way towards meeting the unique needs of customers. In some businesses, a new strategic direction may be required. In others, redesigning the journey will require a complete overhaul of the organizational culture. It is tough for every business trying to make it through the pandemic. New possibilities exist as businesses adapt to the changes in consumer behaviour. When this global crisis is finally over, our customers will remember the adjustments businesses made for them.
Dr. Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer. Connect via twitter @KiruthuLucy