How to emerge better than ever in the new normal

Imagine a lever you could use to restore your business to a time right before the pandemic. Would you activate it? Joseph Michelli explores how to come out on top in the new normal.

While fantasising about a ‘return to normal’ is understandable, successful business leaders know that they can’t ‘step into the same river twice’. The new normal is giving businesses an opportunity to emerge stronger than before.

Remember the 2008 global financial crisis? Some of the biggest companies in the world today were created during its aftermath, including Instagram, WhatsApp, Uber and Airbnb. These global powerhouses were all started by ambitious entrepreneurs rising through the wreckage of the difficult economic environment at the time.

British academic Julian Birkinshaw has highlighted that, throughout history, periods of significant upheaval and stress have inspired reinvention. They have forced society to overcome constraints, overthrow old assumptions and achieve new imperatives.

In a 2007 book, essayist and mathematical statistician Nassim Nicholas Taleb coined the phrase ‘the black swan’, defined as an extraordinarily unpredictable event that massively changes society. Undeniably, COVID-19 fits this definition.

Crisis forces us to challenge our seemingly unassailable beliefs, often leading to historic breakthroughs.

So, where are your black swan opportunities? 

 

Let’s look at customer behaviour for the answer. New data from SEMrush shows Australian internet searches related to ‘customer experience’ have increased by 20 percent since April 2020. This suggests consumers are hunting for meaningful and authentic experiences. With increased demand following hard lockdowns in places like Victoria and New South Wales, customers want business leaders to design and deliver memorable technology-aided/human-powered experiences.

 The CEO of Airbnb, Brian Chesky, puts it this way: “At a time when new technologies have made it easier to keep each other at a distance, we must use them to bring people together. Use it to tap into the universal human yearning to belong – the desire to feel welcomed, respected and appreciated for who they are, no matter where they might be.” 

 Similarly, David Chiem, founder, CEO and executive chairman of MindChamps, suggests, “Now is the time to maximise a customer mindset that challenges and improves every high-value moment customers have with you.”

 Merging Chesky and Chiem’s ideas with behavioural economic research on what customers remember from experiences, here are five high-value moments to consider as you seek to improve your customer experience:

  • Arrivals – How can you ensure every customer feels instantly welcomed upon interacting with you and your team?
  • Transitions – How can you help customers anticipate and smoothly shift from one phase of their journey to the next (e.g. from sales to service)?
  • Peaks – How can you amplify positive emotions they experience with you?
  • Pain – Where can you remove pain or friction along their journey?
  • Departures – How can you consistently demonstrate gratitude and enthusiastically invite them back?

There has never been a more optimal time to make the lives and experiences of your customers better. Looking to the future, with customer experience trends favouring contactless payment, increased use of QR codes, heightened availability of AI-aided chat, and improved training for service providers, how will you elevate the moments that matter most to your customers? 

 

Joseph Michelli is the CEO of The Michelli Experience.