How Data Can Help You Understand Evolving Customer Expectations In The New Normal

How well do you understand your customers? Whether your brand is B2B or B2C, your customers expect seamless, omnichannel experiences. Especially during the Covid-19 crisis, customers expect brands to offer value, relevant products and services, and to grow with them as their needs evolve.

The pandemic has taught businesses that staying relevant in a time of crisis requires a deep, holistic understanding of the customer, and an openness to new ways of doing business. To stay ahead of such rapid change, customer intelligence and data is more important than ever. From remapping and re-creating customer journeys, to developing more accurate forecasting models, all businesses need a data and analytics strategy that allows everyone in the organization to see customers needs in real time and build scenarios, identify gaps, stress-test ideas and improve results with actionable insights.

Your customer is expecting you to lead, and it’s never been more important for your brand to address their pain points and deliver exceptional experiences.

Meeting the customer where they are

While the long-term economic and societal impacts of the pandemic are yet to be fully understood, customer attitudes and behaviors have already shifted in profound ways, and some of these changes are predicted to continue into the future. Recent consumer surveys reveal how rapidly behaviors are evolving:

  • 68% of people report that the pandemic has changed the products and services they think are important
  • 75% of people using digital channels for the first time will continue to do so
  • In Italy, e-commerce sales for consumer products rose 81% in a single week and in the UK, 20% of people say they won’t buy fashion in-store again

In the retail sector, the shift to online buying and direct-to-consumer selling, coupled with a decrease in discretionary spending and flat sales for net-new products, has forced businesses to change their business models overnight. Traditional B2B businesses like financial services organizations are not far behind, augmenting existing sales and service models so they can better serve customers remotely. In the healthcare sector, patients can now choose telehealth as a standard alternative to an in-person visit—and adoption has been swift: one of Europe’s largest telehealth providers, KRY International, has seen a 200 percent increase in registrations. Government agencies and educational institutions are also finding ways to deliver their services in a virtual world.

But meeting the customer “where they are” is not just smart business—it’s essential for survival. Business segments that aren’t responding to changing customer preferences by accelerating their own digital transformations will be left behind. And a central part of transformation includes prioritizing customer analytics.

In today’s competitive and uncertain market environment, your advantage lies in understanding what resonates with your customers. How businesses choose to respond will influence buying decisions today and in the future.

Goal: a complete picture of your customer

What kinds of customer experience metrics are valuable in order to gain understanding of your customer? To create baseline analyses, you need behavioral, transactional, and feedback metrics. And as Gartner points out, more frequent, real-time monitoring of customer metrics is essential during this crisis, since attitudes are changing so rapidly. Useful metrics include:

  • Customer satisfaction scores
  • Customer effort scores
  • Net promoter scores
  • Customer call volume and types of queries
  • Website behavior
  • Point-of-sale data
  • Geospatial data
  • Social media sentiment
  • Employee feedback

Every business, regardless of industry segment, should also expect to field new questions from customers about products, logistics, inventory, supply chain, and operations—and every business needs to be prepared to capture this feedback and respond.

01. Strategic Dashboard

Potential Users: C-Suite, VP, DirectorObjectives: At-a-glance cohesive data storyInsight Examples: Performance and comparison metrics tracked against enterprise goalsExample: Executive Summary dashboard

02. Tactical Dashboard

Potential Users: Analysts, Brand ManagersObjectives: Granular, in-depth analysesInsight Examples: Identify trends, monitor processes supporting strategic objectives, create targets and predictionsExample: E-commerce Marketing Optimization dashboard

03. Operational Dashboard

Potential Users: CRM Support Teams, Website Managers, Marketing ManagersObjectives: High-level, real-time monitoring and managementInsight Examples: Retail and customer satisfaction KPIs, marketing campaign performance, inventory statusExample: Store-level Product Availability dashboard

Know your customer, know your business

Things definitely look different now, and they are different. When every aspect of your operation is under scrutiny, you need information, quickly, to make the right decisions for your business and your customers. Understanding customers and their expectations has always been a priority for businesses looking to create competitive advantage, but the pandemic has proven that businesses must have an even stronger line of sight into what their customers need.

You need to be prepared to proactively respond to rapidly-evolving behaviors and perceptions. As David Leonhardt notes in a recent New York Times op-ed, “When the economy weakens, people have to make decisions about where to pull back.” By using data insights to understand and adapt to new realities, you can give your customers reasons to remain loyal and eliminate some of the uncertainty facing your business.

What untapped insights are waiting to be discovered in your customer data?

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Tableau

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