The past 18 months have brought unthinkable tragedies and uncertainty to the entire world and changed how most people live, work and interact with companies.
But according to Jon Picoult, author of From Impressed To Obsessed: 12 Principles for Turning Customers and Employees into Lifelong Fans, out of every crisis comes opportunity. Even with the chaos and uncertainty, there are opportunities to strengthen relationships and improve customers’ lives.
Engaging with customers in an uncertain world starts by really understanding them, including their new and emerging needs and fears. What matters to customers and what they look for in a shopping experience is likely very different now than it was just a few years ago. By listening to customers, companies can capitalize on these changes to mitigate customers’ challenges and improve their experiences.
Picoult says that more than shaping experiences, companies are shaping memories. Truly engaging with customers involves stirring emotion. Experiences that are laced with emotion are far more memorable than those that aren’t. By connecting on an emotional level, companies can take customers from a place of vulnerability to a position of strength and create a strong, memorable experience.
Picoult gives the example of the Australian grocery chain Woolworths, which was one of the first companies to offer early morning hours dedicated to elderly and at-risk shoppers during the early days of the pandemic. Woolworths talked to its customers and realized at-risk people were scared to be shopping during busy times when the store was crowded. So it created dedicated early morning hours, and the practice spread to retailers around the world. Woolworths understood customers’ needs and went the extra mile to connect its solution to the emotions behind the challenge. In the process, it endeared itself to customers.
In these times of chaos and uncertainty, customers want something they can depend on. They want to interact with brands that will listen to them, understand their struggles and then go out of their way to fix them. Engaging with customers during these challenging times doesn’t mean completely changing the customer experience—it means tweaking your current offerings to match what matters most.
Although these times are challenging, it’s also a chance for brands to strengthen their relationships and turn their customers into lifelong fans.
Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker, and author of the bestselling book The Customer Of The Future. For regular updates on customer experience, sign up for her weekly newsletter here. Join the waitlist now for the new Customer Experience Community here.