Customer Experience in the New Reality

Published on 2020-08-25

Global Customer Experience Excellence research 2020: The COVID-19 special edition

The impact of COVID-19 on customer behavior was immediate and widespread across all industries, countries and demographics. Expectations have heightened as priorities have shifted to health and safety first, which have in turn changed decision making and buying behavior.

As a result, what was previously considered to be a great customer experience has no longer been good enough and almost all businesses have been thrust into reorganizing their approach to customers.

organization and the money they spend is the oxygen that enables the business to exist, grow and thrive. There is a commercial cadence - a rhythm - associated with how the customer and organization transact and interact with each other over time. With this cadence comes the opportunity to deliver experiences that in turn establish and sustain enduring relationships and drive value for both sides.

This is KPMG’s 3rd Global Customer Experience Excellence report. It brings the need for commercial cadence to the fore. Looking at the research findings in the light of COVID-19, we see that companies that were able to maintain this commercial cadence with their customer were ranked higher than those who did not.

Their success emphasizes the application of The Six Pillars of Experience Excellence: Integrity by acting ethically and demonstrably in their customers best interests; a focus on Resolution and proactively addressing customer problems; the accurate setting of Expectations; reducing the Time and Effort customers need to expend by enabling frictionless interactions and then delivering a Personalised experience with Empathy and compassion.

COVID-19 has brought forth a consumer that is more thoughtful and selective in their decision making. Part of this is a result of customers seeking out businesses that demonstrate and build trust. Additionally we are seeing a shift towards ‘buying into companies’ rather than simply ‘buying from them. Factors such as brand, purpose and reputation are coming into the decision-making process in equal measure to safety, security, convenience and certainty. These are all now parts of a new value equation that customers hold to account within the price of a product or service which has changed the economics of experience delivery.

Many purchases have had to shift from in-person to online channels, creating a more digitally savvy consumer that demands easy and effortless interactions. Consumers of all ages have discovered that the internet makes their daily routines more efficient and these behaviours are likely to stick. Many organizations had to accelerate, augment and promote their original customer interaction investments. For the leaders in our research this was a minor adjustment to existing operating models allowing them to maintain continued transactions and commercial cadence with their customers. Indeed, the shift to digital enabled greater value to be created by lowering costs to serve.

The migration to these digital relationships poses something of a challenge for organizations even those with a strong digital presence. Online experiences in the new reality need to be immersive, emotive and, above all, safe.

The CX leaders in our research lead from the front to support their colleagues in these extraordinary times and build an organization which is connected - where every part of the business is symbiotic and aligned, from the front office through to the back office, to deliver an intentional customer experience.

I encourage you to review the findings of our research in this report to help you to decide how to adapt your approach to customer experience and align to a new reality. A dynamic economic environment, a shift in values and newly expected standards of customer and corporate behaviour are rapidly changing the rules of the game. Firms will need to know this new customer intimately if they are to succeed in the new reality. Our global network of KPMG consultants is here to help you navigate the challenges ahead.

-- by Julio Hernandez, Head of Global Customer Center of Excellence, KPMG International, US Customer Advisory Lead, KPMG in the US

Please download the full report below.