TribeCX Board Advisor, and award-winning author and digital, innovation, and customer experience expert, Amy Radin has seen first-hand how local businesses have been tackling the challenges of reopening.
Here, Amy shares her views on how big brands can learn from the customer experience offered by local business “Moms and Pops” and, in turn, rebuild their customers’ confidence.
I live in New Jersey, a state which is just entering its “Phase One” reopening. It has been interesting to see the different tactics local businesses are taking to instill confidence in members of the community, as they encourage people to return to their shops, restaurants, and use of in-home services. They are proving to be great sources of insights and ideas for any brand working on rebuilding confidence through customer experiences adapted and redesigned for our new reality.
These insight sources are small businesses of all types -- family-owned shops where individual’s livelihoods and their own family’s security are at stake – so the pressure to rebuild customer confidence and see that translate into sales and referrals is extremely high. These business owners know that earning confidence in their customer experience is step one to re-engage users and buyers with their brands and must emphasize and go beyond the basics of safety.
Irrespective of your company size, life stage, sector or location – you may be on the team of a major brand struggling with these same issues – I encourage you to read on. Why? Because some of the best sources of insights and ideas come from looking beyond your usual suspects for answers – which tend to be companies just like yours – as you seek answers to address today’s challenges with speed and quality. We all must, as one of my favorite CEOs used to encourage us to do, not overlook opportunities to “steal shamelessly” (ethically, of course). It’s an incredibly powerful way to expedite progress.
Here are four examples relevant to any brand focused on embedding confidence signals throughout their customer experience:
1) Our local bakery has implemented a simple and friendly day-before online ordering system including payment and curbside pickup. In the shop, orders for pick-up are highly visible from the street on open racks that can be seen through the store windows, neatly organized and sealed shut. Passersby can also easily see that employees are wearing masks and gloves, and the store is spotless.
Lesson: The additional steps we must endure now to protect ourselves and others add inconvenient and sometimes anxiety-provoking steps to the customer experience. Be creative about removing as much friction as possible from each step. Be fully transparent so your customers can “inspect” how you are operating and feel confident that you are committed to protecting their employees and you.
2) I visited a local home design shop this week, finally, to replace a broken window shade that has been a bit of an eyesore in my daughter’s bedroom since March. The designer had simplified her online appointment booking process from what it used to be, sent a confirmation email reminding me of and preparing me for safety precautions (i.e. in-store requirement to wear a mask, social distance and have a temperature check), and also mentioning that 15 minutes are being allocated between appointments to clear the air for the next visitor. Inside the shop, clearly marked but subtle boxes on the floor signaled where customers should stand while working with the designer on their project.
Lesson: Setting expectations in advance to lower anxiety, and in calm and matter-of-fact language reinforcing the safety steps you are taking establishes the basis for a positive interaction. It also shows respect for on-site employees, and vendors making in-person deliveries.
3) A local caterer sent an email announcing their reopening. Caterers have been very hard hit by the complete disappearance during their normally peak season of the large events that are the lifeblood of their business. The email covered all the bases: a recitation of their health and safety procedures, which included contactless delivery of meals to each guest, individually boxed – supported by a photograph showing the experience -- lovely looking boxes, tied with ribbons, photographed on a beautifully set table with flowers in the center. Honestly, that photo made me wish I had a reason to hire this caterer. (I don’t, but I’ve mentioned the email to several friends.) Not only did this merchant cover the safety basics, through that one photograph and the thought that went into the details they also restored normalcy and elegance to a celebratory dining experience suggesting the possibility that we can indeed raise a glass with friends and family even under current circumstances.
Lesson: Address the emotional needs, not just the rational needs, as you redesign experiences. The details matter, as does the tone of your messaging, in rebuilding confidence and providing differentiating reasons to be hired.
4) Last week our car dealer, with whom we have had a 20+ year relationship, called offering a free car wash including pick-up and delivery service. While they had the car at the dealership they took a look under the hood and identified $450 worth of repairs and updates. The dealer got an excellent return on their investment, and we were happy to have an absolutely no-hassle experience, skip a trip to the car wash, enjoy a clean car, and take care of some problems that could have become serious as we have deferred service visits during lockdown.
Lesson: A strong, low-cost but high perceived value offer based upon a great experience – in this case pick-up and delivery of the car at our home, avoiding a nuisance errand, and facilitating a service visit -- which people cite is the worst aspect of owning a car – can bring people back to your business, and result in a very strong ROI.
Successful small businesses operate at a very human and authentic level. They are our friends, neighbors, and fellow local citizens. They are also a great source of insight and ideas on practical, thoughtful ways to restore confidence to the customer experience, a must-do to reengage customers with your brand and get back on a revenue-generating path.
About the Author: Amy Radin is a digital, innovation and marketing/CX expert who equips and inspires innovators to create impact. Having learned and honed her CX skills at American Express, before leading the digital transformation of Citi’s US Cards business and holding executive roles at E*TRADE Financial and AXA Group Amy now shares her expertise with other large companies and through her award-winning book The Change Maker’s Playbook: How to Seek, Seed and Scale Innovation In Any Company.
As a TribeCX Board Advisor, Amy supports and coaches our global clients with the development and uptake of their customer experience agendas.
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