It’s fair to say that most non-essential businesses were in survival mode for the last few months. With most of society unable or unwilling to leave their homes, consumers turned to making their purchases through digital.
Businesses were so focused on surviving the quarantine, most of them understandably so, didn’t think about what would be best long-term, but rather, what would enable them to stay operating. Conversion rate optimization, data gathering, and enhancing the customer experience weren’t the priority, can you blame them?
It’s never too late to optimize for the long-term; after all, COVID is not going away any time soon, governments won’t ease restrictions for a year or so, with that said, digital purchases and interactions with brands are going to skyrocket even more than we have previously experienced. So, what can businesses do now?
Businesses fell into three categories for us at Bold x Collective:
- Unable – companies that were unable to operate in a solely digital landscape.
- Survival – companies that were operating in the digital space, but never really invested much time or energy into optimizing their digital experience.
- Optimization focused – companies that have been investing in their digital touchpoints over the last couple of years.
Not every business can operate in a solely digital world, but thankfully they don’t have to anymore. With certain restrictions in place, a lot of businesses that were completely shut down can now reopen. Most service providing organizations found themselves in this category. For these businesses, research, data collection, and improving customer experience are priorities.
Just because a business is open, doesn’t mean consumers will flock to it. Businesses in this category need to focus more on ever on not just improving the customer experience on location, but also sharing content that showcases the elevated customer experience.
Consumers want to go where they feel comfortable and confident that they’re being looked after in a way that values their business and health. Distributing content that shows the customer experience is a great first step, but it should be refined via data collection. Get answers and feedback from real customers about how the process can become more seamless and efficient. If it’s a consultation someone is coming in for, can it be done digitally? How is payment processed? What is the wait time? Is your workforce optimized to handle customer relationships in-person in the new normal?
All key questions need to be addressed, or you’re simply operating to survive rather than thrive.
Small to mid-sized organizations that were retailers selling a product found themselves in survival mode, such as clothing brands, shoe companies, and the like. Most of these businesses have a digital presence and sell products through social media channels and their websites.
The problem for the companies in this category was unless you’re someone’s favorite brand, or you’re selling a product they just have to have/want, you’re competing with a ton of other companies online for your target consumers time, attention, and money.
When most of your target consumers have less money to spend, they’re going to be pickier about the products they purchase. So, what do you do? Do you go out and spend more on advertising? No, you look to your client base and gather digital data to optimize the customer experience for your audience.
With everyone sitting at home over the last few months, it was the perfect time to run CX testing, website variant testing, and really compare data from pre-quarantine to quarantine. Some questions that a lot of small to mid-sized organizations could have got answers to are: Who are our most loyal customers? How is our website traffic using our website and are they looking for something specific? Is there a specific geographical location that’s always demanding our products?
This data could have been used to refine customer persona development, customer journey mapping, content strategies, and future marketing campaigns. Quarantine may be over, but as mentioned, the restrictions, people’s concerns towards health, and their spending are not going away anytime soon. There’s still ample time for small to mid-sized organizations to gather data to enhance future operations
The bigger companies or the ones with more business strategies to juggle would be in our optimization focused category. These organizations get a mix of everything from the Unable and Survival focused businesses, but to a much greater depth. The ones who handled the last few months correctly will have looked to optimize and refine not just their marketing strategy, but also their product, HR, distribution, and business strategies.
Again, not all did so, but a lot of them did take the time to ensure they’re operating in the most efficient manner possible in the new normal. You hear about companies often changing how their employees will work from now on, how their products will flow through the supply chain, and even their in-store customer experience management will evolve.
Naturally, these companies have more money to spend on data, redefining and implementing their strategies. The ones who have not yet done so are risking falling behind. Larger organizations have a benefit over smaller ones in that, they have more manpower and financial assets to leverage. However, they’re also more complex and require more data, planning, and time to implement strategic changes on a functional and digital level, in a world where your target consumer expects almost instant gratification through purchases and customer support, even 4-6 months is an eternity.
The time for all businesses to gather data, optimize, and put their customer experience is now. Although it’s not possible for all businesses, the new normal should be used to prepare and implement for the future. Putting data and customer experience at the forefront of your strategy will organically improve conversions going forward and tell your audience you’re here to support them if they’re going to support you, it’s not too late to start.