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Don’t Touch Me: How COVID-19 is Changing the Way Consumers Interact with Businesses
Customer experience is critical to the success of any business:
• A PwC survey found that 1 in 3 customers will leave a brand they love after just one bad experience. Subject people to two or three negative interactions and 92 percent will completely abandon you.
• According to Esteban Kolsky, 72 percent of customers will share a positive experience with 6 or more people. But 13 percent of unhappy customers will share their experience with 15 or even more.
• About 86 percent of buyers will pay more for a superior customer experience.
The customer’s experience involves every touchpoint with your company and brand. How easy is it to find information online? How long am I on hold when I call customer support? Are physical locations clean and associates friendly?
Since March and going forward indefinitely, the customer experience now includes this question: Does doing business with this company put me at greater risk of getting sick?
COVID-19 created a new world in which more people realize how everyday actions can spread germs and viruses. For the foreseeable future, companies will have to take several steps to help customers feel safe and to minimize the spread of COVID-19 and other diseases.
Ironically, the best customer experiences in a COVID world may now be those that minimize face-to-face contact. Restaurants and retailers, especially, are looking to reconfigure stores to accommodate more online ordering, drive-through purchases, and expanded pickup and delivery. A user-friendly mobile app is almost required if you want to operate your business in this manner.
Crowded waiting areas and long lines may be gone for good. That may mean taking more reservations and allowing fewer walk-ins to control the population at your business at any given time.
Many people will feel more comfortable in places where it’s easier to maintain a safe distance from others. In the event a close encounter is necessary, such as paying at a cash register, businesses are installing clear partitions.
Many customers will only enter business locations that are cleaned and sanitized, especially the bathrooms.
A superior customer experience will also eliminate the need to touch communal items, such as pens, touchscreens, and dispensers. Having a digital payment option that doesn’t require a card swipe will also be appreciated by customers. And if you like to do business with a handshake, you may need to find another method of greeting customers.
Hundreds of employers and public facilities are targeting their doors as a way to minimize the spread of germs. Research shows door handles are one of the most common carriers of harmful germs and bacteria, causing infections to spread such as E.coli, Staphylococcus aureus, plus fungal and viral infections.
Installing hands-free, foot-operated door openers on all common doors, especially restroom doors, will minimize how often employees touch germ-infested door handles with their hands. This is an inexpensive fix; you can easily install a device for about $30 per door.
In the post-COVID-19 world, customers want to touch as little as possible with their own hands. If your business can’t deliver a hands-free experience to your customers, many of them will find a competitor who will.