When it comes to CX design, asking the right questions is more important than looking for a new approach, because any decision might be taken too soon; what we do know is that brands that will generate new paradigms and liturgies, maybe even resulting in brand activism, will be the ones able to adapt to the #newnormal.
The weekly studies conducted by BVA Doxa on Italians’ perceptions and habits during the lockdown, allowed us to identify the main elements that will contribute to the reboot of the customer experience from a research-driven perspective.
PEOPLE AND THE NEW NORMAL: THREE ARCHETYPES
Let’s start with people (yes, people, not “consumers”). We identified three main archetypes in terms of behavior that might lead to a #newnormal:
BACK TO “AS USUAL”: COVID19 is a par of the course; People in this group would prefer to remove any memory of the COVID19 and to relativize the whole situation. There is no “before and after”, but rather only a temporary barrier that needs to be forgotten as soon as possible. COVID19 is only a negative but short episode in a lifetime of peaceful moments that people are looking forward to go back to as soon as possible. What they are really looking for is to go back to what their usual life looked like, including the mistakes and distortions.
Possible behaviors:revenge shopping; regain the time lost; cynicism and being self-referential.
LOOKING FOR A NEW BALANCE: These people are well aware of the historical size of the event, and they’re looking for a change of rules. The emergency is seen as the occasion given by faith to change; there is a sense of optimism and a constant, even obsessive, research for new stimuli. However, there is also a complete lack of references and paradigms that would be needed to build new things. There is a high risk to be stuck at the beginning of the process, without actually acting.
Possible behaviors:sustainable consumption, satisfaction by feeling active part and builders of a new asset, display of one’s own social and generous side.
LIFE IS TODAY: Life is short and tragedies are unpredictable and unexpected; Hedonism and a “carpe diem” philosophy guides our choices because making plans is pointless. We were proven that as single individuals we can do nothing. Planning and making plans is very tiring and they can be easily wiped out, without the individual having a role in it. You may as well abandon yourself to effortless habits and to consumes and purchases that exalt everything.
Possible behaviors:purchases driven by instincts; exaltation of desires and self-realization
No matter which archetype prevails (provided that one will), brands need to take charge of the new requests, by working on common aspects shared by drivers that guide the experience and by those channels where experience develops.
THE EXPERIENCE DRIVERS’ CHANGE
In the retail realm (physical and digital), the CX will have new requirements and new drivers. In particular, three main CX design drivers will increase their importance:
What we can do (meaning, what we are allowed to do): the only limitations we had before were planning and design limitations (both physical and digital), while today we have to consider new important limitations, the normative ones, which are not always clear;
Embedded design: A channel logic is focused on the vision and the objectives that the brand wants to communicate through the experience. Now, planning the CX means to speed up the change between a channel logic and an embedded physical/digital logic (phigital).
Changing expectations and perceptions: Clients will change their emotional and cognitive expectations, so what will the goodwill be towards new ways of doing shopping? How will their priorities change? Clients’ models will change, and it will be impossible to plan a brand experience without taking it into consideration.
Satisfaction will regain its importance, after years of being prevailed by brand experience and by recommendations. But how will the importance given to the drivers change? We can outline a few hypothesis:
The product itself for quality and ability to fulfil the needs
Promptness and accessibility to products and services
Reliability and certified quality
The way in which a product or service is being produced (sustainability)
Value for money
The feeling of comfort and gratification that follows a purchase
The constant research of distinction
The “glamour” aspect of the experience, which will leave space to more tangible and safer aspects
CHANGES IN TERMS OF RELATIONS WITH THE CHANNELS
Before thinking about solutions, there are a few fundamental thoughts that need to be considered on the function of touch points, that every brand should focus on; it’s a real reboot of the CX design, with new rules. Before thinking about solutions, it’s better to ask the right questions.
The physical store becomes a gate to the brand experience; on one hand it becomes fundamental, while on the other its importance is under discussion:
Will it still be allowed to enter a store just to have a look, without actually buying anything? Will the client be allowed to be just a “visitor”?
How will the relationship with the street in front of the store be? And with the shop window and the impulse to buy something?
How will we interact with products? Will we be allowed to touch items, try them on (think about clothes and shoes) and then decide we don’t want to buy them?
How much time will we have to look at products?
What role will shopping assistants have? Will they be gatekeepers or guides? How will the relationship between client/visitor and shopping assistants be?
In which ways will we be allowed to go through the store and “explore” it?
How to create a comfortable environment for clients in a context that might create anxiety and concerns?
What will the new way of doing shopping be? (in the city center, in shopping malls and outlets)
Will a new system be established, for example shopping “on appointment”? And what effects will this have on curiosity and window shopping?
Properties, social networks and e-commerce (both personal and aggregators’) will face many challenges too:
Social Networks are brand awareness tools for less-known brands, but there will be a lot of confusion considering the mix of famous brands, unknown brands, homemade brands, premium or low-prices brands. How to distinguish themselves and communicate their own quality?
How will the drivers of quality perception of brands change? Besides creativity and UX, how much will the attention to functional features grow? For example, products’ descriptions, possibility to see and understand details, getting to know the product, shipping times, safety and quality for the delivery, certainty of delivering in time, integrity.
How much will the additional e-commerce features (the UX order, order tracking, quality and promptness of the delivery) count as driver to choose brand and engagements?