May 29, 2020
We humans are a stubborn bunch. If something works for us, no matter if it works well, we usually stick with it. Because, “I’m comfortable with it.”
Consider how businesses (filled with humans) adopt new technology. There are usually a few of us on the cutting edge. Then come those on the bleeding edge. A huge group of us are more like pack followers. Finally, there are the left-behinds that never adapt or do it years later.
However, under COVID-19 life, entire populations have been forced into using new technologies and habits they had never even heard of just a few months before. And these technologies have gone from just “business only” to general consumer products.
The implication for business as it emerges from the pandemic is that customers might be more receptive to new technologies than previously thought. This should get businesses and brands to pay attention to how this affects brands’ relationships.
The train of technology has been speeding toward us for over a decade.
Over the past decade, our world has grasped technology by every smart phone within reach. In 2007, about 880 million devices were connected to the internet. By the end of 2020, experts estimate that number to reach 31 billion. While you mull that over, consider these numbers: from 2011 to 2018, Facebook users went from 372 million to over 1.6 billion. Put that against the telephone that took 75 years to reach 50 million users.
Today, our internet-connected devices are smarter and more powerful than the Apollo rockets that carried astronauts to the moon and back. In this tech-saturated world, the possibilities are endless with what we can and will develop through instant access, openness and connectivity.
The New Normal Workplace
As tough as COVID-19 has been on the public, it has sparked us into a wave of innovation. For many of us, it has changed everyday life. And these changes are shaking our culture and business norms to the core. For those businesses ready to step out, this situation provides an environment for testing and launching new ideas.
The “work from home” trend was already popular and sometimes expected by some employees, but now it’s the new normal. And for Twitter and Facebook employees, it is the way a large portion of their employees will work permanently.
In December 2019, there were 10 million Zoom users. By April 2020, Zoom had more than 300 million users. Google, seeing Zoom’s rise, quickly repackaged Google Meet, put it out there and now it’s a serious contender to Zoom. Just days ago, Facebook jumped into the meeting realm with a new app called Messenger Rooms.
Consumers around the world quickly grasped Zoom. The competition saw what was happening and reacted quickly.
All these virtual meetings, now virtual companies almost, will affect how we think about office space, interactions within an office environment (if we ever return to them) and lead to other innovations in how we work.
It’s a brand new world; how will your brand stand out in it?
Your brand’s relationships with customers are built over time through experiences grounded in expectations and confirmed through repeated interactions.
The last two months, and from here on, will change how consumers interact with brands, each other and the rest of the world. A customer experience survey by PwC conducted before the pandemic found that 64 percent of U.S. consumers and 59 percent of all consumers feel that companies have lost touch with the human element of customer experience.
A step further, the lock-down of the pandemic has forced many companies to do business remotely. At the same time, customers want brand experiences more than ever. Don’t believe it? Ask anyone what’s the first restaurant they want to eat at when lock-down is over. However, if businesses are operating in a different or remote way, it’ll be tough for people to adjust the “new normal.”
Customers care about brands with emotional intelligence. We want honest, empathetic communication. In this time of crisis, we are sensitive to tone and motive. We expect brands to be authentic and caring. And not sappy.
As you assess these changing expectations, your brand messaging should be grounded in the needs of your customers. This is when and how you can build and maintain trust today and into the future.
A Digital Path Forward
The pandemic has been a huge reminder to us that the digital world we’ve been creating is now critical to our livelihood and the relationships between businesses and consumers. The new behaviors and habits that consumers have grasped overnight speak to their adaptability in digital interactions.
The question smart marketing people should be asking themselves is: How prepared is your brand to satisfy your customer through a fully digital experience?
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