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While stock markets are plunging, brands are adjusting their economic forecasts and buyers are scrambling to source suppliers outside China, what has been the impact of COVID-19 on customer experience?

Many brands across industries have acted swiftly to implement measures to reduce the risk this outbreak poses to employees. In the areas hardest hit, factories and stores have shut down. In the USA, most major brands have limited employee travel both domestically and internationally and, in some cases, encouraged staff to work from home. This is good for employee health, morale and culture.

But how about the customer? In the era of customer experience, relationships matter. In a time of crisis, brands are presented with an excellent opportunity (yes, opportunity!) to build trust and show how much they value the relationship with their customer.

Here are some of the reactions by some of the hardest-hit industries:

  • Airline: Waiving change fees, waiving cancellation fees and improving onboard cleaning of surfaces.

  • Restaurants: Increasing the frequency of cleaning procedures and following more closely the guidelines of health authorities. Coffee shops are banning reusable cup programs.

However, if the customer is important, shouldn’t these reactions be standard practices and not just for special circumstances?

Many other industries have been silent and may be missing out. For example, some of the biggest opportunities are for online retail stores, pharmacies and online groceries. Here is a chance for many brands in these industries to attract new customers.

Could special promotions by online groceries help them attract new customers and if they go above and beyond can they grow that relationship even after the crisis has subsided?

How about retail stores, don’t they have an opportunity to promote products that encourage at-home family well-being and activities? Instead of price gouging for popular disinfectants, is there an opportunity to offer bundled pricing that delivers value that can win over new customers that will continue to shop long after the crisis is gone?

Why aren’t more brands looking at COVID-19 as a unique opportunity to separate themselves from a crowded marketplace by doing things differently?

The answer may be that they fail to see the value of building strong customer relationships and the short- and long-term benefits that can be derived.

Are there brands that are stepping up? If you know of one. Please tell us who and how they have distinguished themselves.


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