It will not be ‘Business as Usual’. RESET Now to prepare for the new ‘Normal’
The arrival of Covid-19 accelerated the closure of several companies that were already struggling before the pandemic hit. The government’s decisions only made it easier for struggling businesses to either shut down partially or completely. Customer behaviours and perceptions have changed dramatically in these two months more than it has in the last five years. In fact, I’ve identified three forces of change:
- Changed habits based on forced restrictions placed on businesses and individuals
- Changed perceptions owing to the fear of contracting the disease
- Changed purchase decisions powered by economic uncertainty
Even as the central bank and the government is rolling out measures to safeguard the economy, the BFSI sector needs to look at the larger picture now and RESET its business model and strategies.
As restrictions are being lifted in a phased manner, NOW is the time for financial businesses – irrespective of whether they’ve been struggling or safe - to make some hard, strategic decisions to ensure they don’t just survive, but thrive. I say it is also important for businesses that haven’t been impacted much by the pandemic to re-draw their strategies because once the restrictions lift and life begins to return, your customers will have by then donned a whole new avataar. It will not be ‘business as usual’ as you know it, but a new normal as customers will now want to safeguard their future even more than before. This lockdown, which has been practiced by a majority of the population, has encouraged a potential habit change.
Many people that I’ve spoken to during the lockdown at least in Indian cities often tell me that while they had an initial resistance to the impact of staying at home, they are growing to enjoy benefits such as credit relaxations, loan repayment relaxations and even mobile ATMs that come all the way to their doorstep. While this is from a general consumer perspective, there are aspects such as liquidity, impact on loan covenant ratios, uncertainty of hedge funds, changes in fair value computation and much more.
Without much ado, the new phase of digital banking has made its grand entry with the Covid-19 crisis. If banks and fintech companies do not deliver a differentiating user experience, it will become even more difficult for them to prove their distinction in a crowded market. Remember, now is the ripe time for prospective start-ups to spring into action with unique products and services, and they can disrupt your business built over the years in a matter of months.
Existing BFSI companies cannot survive on copied services. What they need is a 360-degree view of not just their business strategies, but of every customer’s journey - anticipating customer requirements, responding in real time and delivering not just a solution but a meaningful customer experience that appeals to the emotion of the customer. It is also important that when a frontline staff resolves a unique customer problem, this solution is automatically made systemic to ensure that all customers benefit.
3 Steps To Sustained Growth
- Rethink Your Value Proposition
Is your value proposition unique? Does it determine why someone should buy from you rather than from your competitor? In challenging times having a strong value proposition is a ‘must’ to survive.
Developing a new value proposition, especially in an environment as challenging as post the Covid-19 crisis, is the most difficult aspect. Hence, it is very important that you enlist the help of an expert who can provide a more unbiased solution.
In my several years of helping brands strategise their business growth, a common answer that I receive about what they believe is their value proposition is great investments, good service and great staff. But none have been able to provide proof points to justify these views.
Even leading brands have been struggling to cope with changing customer behaviour since the pandemic broke out. But sectioning customer experience via key segments has helped a few smart brands recover and reset their brand position in the market. High-value customer segments are absolutely critical and essential for your business’ sustenance. These are the clients who will take that absolute risk of recommending your brand to other customers like them.
You may have been a leading brand until the pandemic broke out. But with changed customer behaviours, you need to develop a unique customer value proposition for each of your key segments. These are customer segments that are of high value and are absolutely critical to your business’ sustenance and growth. Remember, this CVP is the reason why people choose your brand over others and not just stay loyal to you, but also take the risk of recommending you to others like them.
The benefits of word of mouth are tremendous. Hence, take professional help if you believe it will help your organisation not just stay afloat, but sail through these turbulent and uncertain times by focusing on the right value proposition.
- Intensive Focus on Planned Customer Experience
Like I said earlier loan repayment relaxations and mobile ATMs that reach the doorstep of customers on demand are just two of several initiatives that brands within the BFSI segment have introduced to help their customers during this crisis. It goes to show that customer perceptions of services and product requirements have altered strongly during the Covid-19 days. And this is just the circumference of a solid circle of new normals that the financial industry needs to consider very seriously.
Questionable job security and fear of contracting the disease has changed customer perceptions about wants and needs. This has a strong influence on their spending and saving pattern. Those financially affected by the pandemic have been liquidating funds, while those unaffected financially are looking at future savings in more lucrative and safer options. Every customer segment – be it individuals, companies, associations, NGOs, current account holders, etc. – has modified its saving and spending pattern to help it sail through the present and save for the future. Trading in safer options, investing in safe but high-return plans and similar trends will soon become a norm until the fear of the pandemic stays. This is a time when some brands benefit, while others stand to lose with this dynamically changing financial patterns, which are strongly influenced by unpredictable developments globally.
Brands that scale up to this new normal situation and implement powerful strategies to tap into the functional and emotional elements of customers, aligning the experience to their unique value proposition, will find them emerging as winners once the economy revives.
- Time To Reset & Map Your Customers’ Journey Strategically
The new normals are here to stay for a while at the least. So, what exactly should your brand do to sustain itself in the long run and cater effectively to a new customer market? To understand this, ask yourself these questions:
Can you clearly define and demarcate the key Functional elements of your customer experience strategy?
Do you know exactly what the key Emotional elements are that enhance the number of Promoters for your brand?
Are you mapping your customers’ journey at all touchpoints – from online transactions to ease of information availability, from customer support to resolution of problems? Has there been a change from the normal? If yes, has your brand needs to reset its strategies to suit the new situation?
And lastly, what initiatives have you taken/ are going to take in the immediate future to enhance your customers’ journey across all touchpoints to cater to key emotional elements?
A sincere answer to the above questions will show you the strength of your organisation’s DNA. It will help you assess how much you make your customers feel valued, cared for and supported in these changed times.
Driving the Strategic Engine
Your strategic engine is powered by your frontline staff. Hence, it is important that your frontline staff are equipped with the appropriate tools and training to deliver on your new value proposition and modified customer experience strategies. Facilitated workshops and CX training can help them understand the new journey map your brand intends to travel. Strong detractor call-back management, high-value customer retention and conversion of Passives to Promoters via proactive performance is the key to helping them deliver meaningful and timely customer experience that benefits your brand.
Chris is a Global Brand and CX Expert. He is the Managing Director of Engaged Strategy, which is the world’s first official distributer of Nice Satmetrix. Chris is the developer of the Total Engagement Model®, which designs and aligns key elements to maintain brand integrity and customer focus. He is a published academic author and a guest lecturer at the University of Queensland at a Masters Level.