COVID-19 has made us rethink our way of life – how we work, what we do in our free time and even how we interact with our possessions – well some of them, at the very least.
Adapting one’s product experience to the new normal has become the focus for businesses and institutions globally. With a firm end date nowhere in sight several businesses are already tailoring their products and services to cater to the now, rather than wait for the future.
Educational institutions have been one of the quickest to adapt to COVID-19, with online classes being conducted in full swing across the globe. For regular businesses, especially those dealing with tangible goods in the B2C sector the recalibration will have to be more thorough.
Here’s how COVID-19 has had an impact on different stages of the Product Experience journey, and how businesses can mitigate this impact.
Making the purchase
Most consumer products were already easily available online, and transitioning to an online – only purchase experience was a no-brainer. However, there were a few sectors which had to get on board the e-commerce train, and fast. Promotional events had to be cancelled the world over, with companies shifting their energies to conducting online unveilings for their product launches.
The automobile industry has been one of the worst hit by COVID-19, and why wouldn’t it be? It’s entire business model has been dependent on getting people to visit showrooms, test drive and only then make the purchase.
However, necessity is the mother of invention and dynamic global automobile brands like BMW have responded by creating online showrooms for customers to virtually personalize and experience their vehicles, with several of them offering deliveries as well.
While such measures must be applauded, businesses who are transitioning to a new purchase model need to be sure the user experience while making the purchase is as seamless as possible. It would be a good idea to conduct product experience surveys, especially via CATI to get data driven insights about what target customers are experiencing, and how valid their frustrations are.
COVID-19 has put several companies in a unique situation – usage patterns for many products have been completely upended by the pandemic. Take Zoom for example – it’s become the go to platform for schools and businesses to conduct classes as well meetings in a really short timeframe.
Companies need to survey customers, scrutinize product usage patterns and validate if their product experience is in line with customer expectations.
Gathering rich qualitative feedback (via phone & face to face surveys) might help glean insights which weren’t even being considered for eg. Arriving at a product feature or spinoff product/service existing users are willing to pay for or an existing pain point which is impacting user retention.
With a global lockdown in place and most employees working from home, providing after sales support has become an incredibly difficult task. Most businesses have resorted to extending product warranties to cover the duration of the lockdown, but it would be wise to conduct user research via surveys to gain insight into customer thinking. For those businesses which are able to provide support online, it’s essential to know if the customer’s interaction with the support teams was of a level befitting their brand.
Where do we go from here?
There’s no doubt the world economy’s taken a hit. Businesses need to be cognizant about the eventuality that people are going to hold off from making big purchases at this time. Their product strategy must now change accordingly, especially in regards to pricing. Potential customers need to be extensively surveyed to understand at what price point they would be willing to purchase your products or services at this time.
A Product Experience that’s tailored to homes
We don’t know when social distancing will go away and businesses are going to have to adapt for the long term. Contactless deliveries have quickly become the norm for so many products – food, medicines, groceries and lately, automobiles.
Platforms which sold movie and concert tickets are already in the process of aligning themselves to meet demand virtually, and it is vital they get accurate feedback about customer experiences throughout the entire process. Airbnb is one such platform that’s quickly diversified it’s portfolio – it’s now offering a plethora of experiences that let users explore different cultures virtually.
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