While it’s safe to assume that most people will quickly remember how to navigate retail stores once the pandemic subsides, we cannot ignore the fact that COVID-19 accelerated some seismic shifts in consumer behavior, most notably our collective preference for comfort and convenience, our dwindling sense of loyalty to most brands, and our growing discontent for friction of any kind, anywhere across the customer journey. Brands like Apple, Sephora, Warby Parker and Starbucks have all been well ahead of the curve in their adoption of experience as a central pillar of the customer journey, but now other brands must adapt and evolve or risk the same fate as laggards like Toys R Us, a brand seemingly rooted in passion and play yet stagnant when it came to the things people care about most today.
Amazon continued its land-grab of epic proportions, gobbling up a greater share of the proverbial pie, capitalizing on its offering of personalization at scale plus one-click convenience plus free shipping, a combination that nobody else can really compete with.
So smart brands won’t even try. Instead, they’ll focus on creating a customer experience that offers benefits Amazon never could. And they’ll capitalize on the reality that people are done being cooped up in their houses all day every day. People are desperate to get out of the house and explore again, and while they won’t soon give up on their newfound love of convenience and immediacy, there are plenty of opportunities for brands to connect in new and exciting ways.
One of the most under-leveraged platforms in delivering world-class customer experience – interestingly enough – is the device we all carry with us all hours of all days. Mobile apps have gotten stagnant, websites are all but useless, and landing pages are one-dimensional.
As we all begin getting out and exploring the world again, while we may be hesitant to engage with strangers, nobody is hesitant to engage their mobile devices. We are on them so much as is, but so few brands have cracked the code and figured out how to give us the experience we want.
Imagine arriving at your local gas station, pulling up your mobile app, inserting the fuel pump into your gas tank, and then spending the next 5 minutes blissfully playing a game called Road Trip Nation on your device, a fun “driving game” that rewards you with free and discounted gas and products in the convenience store as you pass each level and win fun challenges. The game is geofenced so you can only play it at THAT brand’s gas stations, rewarding you with meaningful offers and a fun experience in exchange for your loyalty.
Our mobile devices are trojan horses for brands committed to providing experiences that are mutually beneficial, and in many cases the key to sustained loyalty. They are also the key to ensuring dwell time – both online and offline, which is often the key to maximizing basket size.
Brands can spend all the money in the world on marketing and advertising, but if the customer experience is not conducive to what people want and expect, it’s all for naught.
Check us out on Twitter and let us know your thoughts about the evolution of brand experience in a post-COVID world. What are you hoping to see? What will you no longer tolerate that you might have before? What does brand experience utopia look like to you? Follow us on Twitter over the next few weeks as we share our thoughts on which brands “get it” and who we admire for pushing the envelope when it comes to brand experience!