COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the way customers think, feel, behave and interact with brands. Back in the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak, digital channel usage shot up in the face of store closure and the risk of human-to-human transmission. This was large scale behavioural change. With so many customers experiencing new ways of being and behaving, we may never return to the former status quo.
Businesses are grappling with this sea change. During the early outbreak, many were forced to manage extraordinary operational pressures, optimise their resilience and manage risk. Now they are turning to face the uniquely complex challenge of understanding the ‘New Customer’ and adapting their business to the post lockdown world.
Now more than ever, there is an imperative for businesses to have clear sight of, and fully understand their Customer. To achieve this, businesses have a critical need for an effective insight system. In our publication, ‘Ignite Growth – Connecting insight to action’, we describe in detail the features and benefits of such a system.
The ideal insight system is one that captures customer data, connects different data sources, prioritises areas of focus, engages stakeholders and drives action. And all this at fast pace to deal with the fluid and constantly changing environment. Let’s look at each of these in turn:
- Capture - We have long been in a world abundant in data. It is more important than ever that businesses can explore and exploit multiple data signals to gain rapid sight of the Customer and the context. At KPMG, we are plugging in to a large repository of data signals (demographics, economic indicators, government/regulatory and more) and using machine learning to analyse and apply the insights to client business problems. Moreover, as digital behaviour has increased through the crisis, we have mined and analysed millions of social media posts to monitor market behaviour and sentiment and uncover latent insights. Clearly, in the digital era, data is the new commodity.
- Connect – Rather than have multiple discordant data sources competing within a business, data signals need to be organised and purposefully designed around business needs. Only in this way can they drive informed decision making across the entire organisation. We have been working with organisations to make sure they have a carefully organised insight system in place, where minor adaptions can then be made to quickly cater for emerging needs. We worked with one of our financial services clients to adapt their existing insight system to include a text analysis tool that monitored how well they were meeting evolving COVID-19 regulatory guidance when providing customer service.
- Prioritise - The virus has given many of us a new perspective, causing us to shift our priorities. Where once it was paramount that a company displayed responsiveness and personalisation amongst other things, during the crisis, the importance of showing purpose, integrity and empathy really came to the fore. We are working with clients to apply a range of methods to identify customer priorities, from statistical analysis of the drivers of customer KPIs and revenues, to deploying journey analytics technology to determine priorities within a customer journey. As we emerge from lockdown, in an environment that is potentially more malleable than historically, there arises an opportunity for businesses to analyse, understand and capitalise on these new customer priorities.
- Engage – Engagement is a key precursor to action. An effective insight system must not only inform, but also engage employees across the business. With the emergence of the ‘New Customer’ and wholesale changes in customer needs, attitudes, values and behaviours, now is the right time for businesses to review their existing technology investments and the engagement it drives. We are working with our clients to get the maximum out of their customer experience dashboards and other technology investments.
- Act - Insight has to be acted on, not squandered. This is key to gaining competitive advantage and realising return on investment. During the early stages of the outbreak, many businesses were paralysed by the sheer amount of decisions they needed to make across their operating model to respond. We worked with businesses to establish a ‘decision centre’ – a group of business leaders who facilitate swift decisions and govern action to enable decisions to be made at pace. We also developed a ‘decisions matrix’, illuminating the key decisions to make in the short and long-term to build towards a brighter future.
The global pandemic is showing us that never has it been more important to inform our action by learning from global challenges, experiences and innovations. Our Customer Experience Excellence Centre continues to undertake research that shines a light on businesses around the world, with the aim of sharing and reflecting on what makes a great customer experience, even in challenging times.
We have all been changed by this. Many of us are now open to new ways of buying and engaging. The businesses that can stay close to their customers and adapt to their needs first will reap the rewards – they will reinforce loyalty, outperform the competition and capture a new generation of customers.