The COVID-19 crisis has drastically changed consumer behavior and has had a major impact on what customers expect from companies and organizations. In uncertain times, customers have a greater need for reliable brands and are also more critical about the way companies serve them.

In recent years, customers have been expecting more from businesses. They demand excellent experiences that meet their expectations, involve minimal time and effort, demonstrate integrity and authenticity, reach resolutions, are empathic and personalized – and the recent health crisis has only amplified these demands. COVID-19 has had an immediate, and likely lasting, impact on customer behavior, which has changed fundamentally across all sectors in recent months.

Customers have become more thoughtful and selective in their choices and have adjusted their expectations accordingly. The 2020 KPMG Global Customer Experience Excellence (CEE) Survey revealed that consumers feel more vulnerable, less safe and have less control than in the past. As a result, they expect brands to be better, safer, more easily accessible and to offer more 'value for money' than ever before. Companies that best capture the everchanging needs of their customers are very likely to score high in terms of customer experience.

The fundamental changes in the way customers organize their lives and interact with businesses force brands to reinvent themselves and the experiences they deliver to their customers. If brands are willing to act in the best interest of their customers and their environments during and after COVID-19, they can build a strong foundation of trust with their customers. Businesses that do this genuinely, will be rewarded with sustainable customer loyalty. Now is the time to start shaping your brand’s customer experience for the New Reality and you can do so by using the KPMG Six Pillars of Customer Experience model. This model can be used to transform the way you interact with your customers.

The first pillar of Customer Experience Excellence is integrity. Companies must demonstrate that they act with integrity and put the interests of the customer first. Organizations must also proactively look for solutions to customer’s problems. This shows determination, which is the second pillar. Thirdly, companies must meet - and even dare to exceed - customer expectations. Empathy is the fourth pillar, whereby companies show understanding for the personal situation and concerns of the customer. The fifth pillar is the company’s understanding of specific customer needs and expectations. Customer effort is the final pillar, where companies try to remove obstacles for customers and ensure a fast and accessible service.

The model offers insight into a universal set of six qualities or ‘pillars’ that are inextricably interwoven, providing a powerful mechanism for organizations to understand their customers’ experience across channels, industries and customer journeys. Using the Six Pillar model will allow you to manage changing customer expectations and behaviors and will support your organization in building meaningful connections with your post COVID-19 customers. Discover these topics in depth and how to react to them in our customer behavior webinar.

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Customer Behavior Webinar

How to touch base with the COVID-19 customer