The uncertainty is not just economic: behavior change among the people you serve is immediate and apparent. The most obvious is perhaps the shift to digital – anything that can be done online, is, and often for the first time.
Less clear is how people’s behavior and underlying values will change for the long term. COVID-19 has changed the experience of being a customer, an employee and a citizen. People’s behavior was already shifting – it’s just happening faster now, and it may never fully go back.
People are turning to brands that provide security, and that they can trust in a time of uncertainty.
While some have gone online for the first time, others who typically favor digital have been forced to visit stores when delivery slots were scarce.
Alongside emphasis on hygiene and handwashing, people are seeking fitness classes online and returning to the weekly “big shop” for the first time in years.
People’s expectations of businesses and brands are rising — working out the implications will be critical to businesses’ survival.
Which way will people go?
We need to consider how to create experiences that can navigate tensions, including:
- Will we be prone to self-gratification, or continue interacting with and caring for our local communities?
- Will we continue supporting our local shops, or will we return to casually buying globally sourced products?
- Where might we stand on an interventionist State that hands out benefits and monitors our health, versus market dynamics allowing rises in unemployment and bankruptcy?
- Will we turn back to celebrities and influencers to learn how things stand, or continue looking to experts for advice?
- How will we view brands and organizations that put ethics before profit?
The three lenses for creating experiences in uncertain times
Almost overnight, COVID-19 has upended both the customer experiences we want to create and the ways in which we go about creating them. This radical change demands radical thinking, and a coherent plan to act on it.
It’s always been best practice to gain a deep understanding of customer needs to inform your strategy, but COVID-19 has made it a critical step. Businesses that listen, learn and evolve with empathy will emerge stronger.
Continually seek to understand and empathize with people, putting them at the heart of how you design – and constantly evolve – your experiences.