How the COVID-19 Pandemic is Changing Customer Experience Forever

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Customer experience (CX) has taken on a whole new meaning in 2020. Prior to 2020, anticipating the needs of customers and iterating was a means for differentiation. Now, adaptability and care are at the forefront of customers’ minds. 

In times of crisis, one slip-up can have a dramatic effect on a customer’s loyalty moving forward. It is crucial for companies to tread carefully, yet confidently to be industry leaders. We’ve outlined three important factors for companies to consider to implement a successful customer experience strategy beyond 2020.

1. Empathy & Building Trust are More Important than Ever

The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted almost every human on planet Earth. From job lay-offs to critically ill family members, priorities have shifted, altering decision-making and buying behaviours. As such, it is paramount to approach customer interactions with the utmost compassion. Many are feeling alone due to mandatory isolation and want nothing more than to feel heard.

The data speaks for itself. 71% of consumers say if they perceive that a brand is putting profit over people, they will lose trust in that brand forever. Ensure your messaging conveys compassion to avoid sounding tone-deaf, or face losing customers to your competitors.

Instead of bombarding your customers and prospects with marketing emails as per a regular Tuesday, stop and consider what might truly earn their trust during hardship.

These days, 64% of customers choose to buy from socially responsible brands. Some companies have implemented initiatives to redirect resources to manufacture PPE for frontline workers. Others — take Ford for example — provide payment relief. Ford launched their “Built to Lend a Hand” campaign by deferring payments for 6 months, providing peace of mind and earning trust to create an exceptional customer experience.

Ford Built to Lend a Hand campaign with annotations
Ford provides peace of mind for their customers during this time of crisis with their Built to Lend a Hand campaign.

Take this time to strengthen the emotional connection with your customers. Your company’s bottom line will thank you.

2. Adapt, or Face Extinction (Without Overadapting)

There’s something to be said about having tried-and-true processes, platforms, and partnerships. Once something has been perfected, why change it, right?


Digital adoption has been steadily increasing for many years. COVID-19 has rapidly accelerated this increase. In 2020, 37% of consumers prefer to satisfy their core needs while staying indoors. This includes working, consuming media, socializing, and making essential purchases. If your numbers have dropped due to the pandemic and your only purchase method is  brick-and-mortar, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to discover why.

2020 is the year where customer expectations have skyrocketed to new heights. Customers will gravitate towards companies who offer:

  • In-home and delivery services
  • Low-touch physical options
  • Health & safety protocols followed diligently

There are definitively higher costs to implement such processes and procedures to improve your customer experience. It is important to refrain from going overboard in the opposite direction, or else face a significant increase in operating costs, negatively impacting your revenue. 

KPMG customer experience chart
Chart depicting the consequences of an imbalance between customer expectations and experience.

It is critical for companies to adapt to our new normal. Meet your customers wherever they are to keep them coming back, again and again. 

3. Accept the Forever New Normal

The COVID-19 pandemic is not simply a speedbump on our metaphorical road. Consumer mindset has forever changed, and buying behaviours along with it.

This year, consumers have become more comfortable with a digital-first way of life, regardless of age. 30% plan to shop more online in the future, including 28.3% of seniors over 65 years old. People may never return to their previous ways, and companies must embrace a more forward-thinking approach to every facet of their business.

Put on your digital transformation thinking cap. Monitor industry trends and anticipate changes before they occur. Determine processes to mitigate chaos wherever possible. Be prepared. 


Contact us to learn more about how we can help accelerate your business in a time of crisis.

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