Now the initial shock, disruption and adjustment of the early weeks are starting to subside, we’re seeing a number of clients start to look at acceleration and bounce back planning, to ensure that they emerge from lockdowns with defined roadmaps, that will help secure quick wins during the interim phase of the next 6 months.
With business as usual unlikely to return in 2020, clients are looking to make sense of emerging trends, behavioural shifts, need states and new opportunities.
We’ve identified 5 of the most common areas of focus:
1. Digital self-serve
The current crisis has done as much as anything over the past decade to stimulate digital adoption; from driving contactless payments and online shopping to the current boom in social video meetups and remote working.
Even the digitally mature are seeing the impact, as Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella stated, “We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months.”
The flip side is that it has exposed the fact that many businesses still don’t have the digital products and services to allow their customers and employees to successfully self-serve.
One of the most high-profile examples that came to light was Primark, who took the business decision not to build ecommerce functionality or offer their customers an app. As a result, they saw their monthly sales drop from £650m to zero overnight. Much of that spend will have been diverted to competitors, and with online shopping habits likely to become further entrenched, winning back those customers will become increasingly difficult.
While not as significant, many other brands across finance, logistics, travel, education and healthcare still have significant pain points and gaps in their service offering, that are yet to be digitalised. With fears around long-term social distancing and possible subsequent waves of the virus and the impact both will have on footfall and physical experience, digital self-serve will remain a key area of focus for businesses.
2. A shift to customer-centricity
Aligned to this is the need to be more customer-focused. With UK consumer spend down 36.5% in April (largely a result of reduced travel and social spending) it’s fair to say that we’ll emerge as more prudent shoppers, especially when set against a backdrop of record recession and high unemployment.
With this in mind, businesses need to enhance their understanding of what customers will most value and gain insight into unique drivers. They need to look at creating differentiated and superior customer experiences and most importantly, invest in making things that people want; services with genuine utility and products with a purpose. For the past few years, we’re seen Forrester, Gartner et al providing numerous studies and stats that start to quantify the value of CX and its importance as a differentiator and driver of advocacy. Now, more than ever, superior CX will be a catalyst for growth and success.
3. AI experimentation
While much has been written and predicted about AI, making it a mainstay of boardroom conversations, many businesses were yet to commit before the crisis. However, it was the perfect storm of social distancing, remote working and businesses looking to drive efficiencies that have driven a short-term spike in adoption.
With many businesses looking to reduce the number of contact centre employees while struggling with rising call demand, IBM and Google have been offering, free and heavily discounted initial deals, for their conversational AI products.
IBM saw a 40% increase in traffic to Watson Assistant from February to April of this year and Google also launched the Rapid Response Virtual Agent, a special version of its Contact Center AI, in April. This early foray into automation for businesses is helping to prove the business case for AI solutions and will stimulate increased investment to drive greater efficiencies as businesses look to implement their bounce back strategies. 4. A need to stream jump A smaller number of businesses have had to pivot their offering during the lockdown to stay relevant. Some have done so altruistically, turning their attention to the production of PPE, ventilators and sanitisers. Others have had to switch to totally new audiences or offerings just to survive. Moving forward, businesses, especially in the most affected categories and those expected to emerge last from the lockdown, are likely to switch from reactive to proactive strategies and explore the diversification of their offering and possibly take steps into adjacent sectors or extend their reach and relevance with new audiences.
5. Adopt a more agile approach
In response to COVID-19, we’ve seen a number of clients forced into a different way of working, in order to keep pace with the changing requirements of customers, the need to support and advise them in different ways and the ongoing announcements of new government stimulus and schemes. Key shifts have included; a streamlining of internal processes, fewer stakeholders required across workstreams, a willingness to go to market with MVPs and build on these with further releases and a greater openness to collaboration and partnerships with third parties.
Only time will tell as to whether this more agile mindset will continue in the long-term however, we predict that clients will certainly look to reap the benefits of it during this transitional phase.
It’s fair to say, no one fully predicted the impact of this crisis and it’s hard to predict how long it will last and how it will impact behaviours in the long term. Some are predicting that attitudes, work, shopping behaviours, will never be the same again whereas other tracking studies infer that the ‘new normal’ is a fallacy, predicting very little will change long-term.
The hope is, there will be some silver linings emerging from the crisis, for people and society as a whole.
And for business; those who get proactive, take brave decisions and act fast, will be the ones who thrive.
If you’re struggling with adapting to these changes or have an idea that you need to accelerate, get in touch to find out more about our Bounce Back Sprint and Rapid Prototyping Solution.