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Measuring the Customer Experience in a Socially Distanced World

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The pandemic has been a catalyst to new consumer behaviors and expectations. Brands in all industries have had to pivot their business models to match these new expectations. 

The problem is, even with the needed adjustments, many businesses are still seeing customer churn — and they don’t know why. And it’s even more important than ever to track the customer experience at every touchpoint, to make sure customers are feeling safe and aren’t putting in too much effort to interact with your brand (yes, even during these times).

Your business shifts toward safety, hygiene, and virtual convenience should only make it easier for customers to trust you and work with you. But how do you know if you’re doing enough? First, make sure you are understanding the customer expectations of 2020. Then, consider measuring whether or not you’re meeting those adequately.

Understanding Customer Expectations in 2020

Across all industries, businesses are addressing every aspect of the virtual and socially distanced customer relationship. To make sure you’re truly seeing their needs, here are the top consumer expectations of 2020 — and they’re not going to change any time soon.

Read more: The Evolution of Consumer Behavior in COVID-19

Prove your safety commitment 

Are you visually and actionably proving your commitment to the safety of customers? Customer trust must be the top priority for every brand because no customer will enter a store that isn’t physically proving their safety precautions and procedures. 

Stay stocked on popular items

Stock maintenance is a customer expectation. It’s no longer safe or advisable for customers to visit more than one place to locate the items they need. So, if a location isn’t able to keep basic or popular items in stock in a consistent manner, it will impact customer traffic over time (as people seek solutions elsewhere).

Get the customers in and out, safely

Customers want maximum efficiency of visits to minimize their time spent in the location. To keep their experience flowing well, make sure you’re providing: 

  • • Clear directional signage 
  • • One-way traffic flow markers
  • • Signage about mask requirements
  • • Visible cleanliness
  • • Clear checkout expectations and processes


We helped BP ensure clear visibility to signage compliance.

Read Case Study


Be completely accessible online

Online access to brand information, new policies, and product shopping is more important than ever. Companies that can fully service their customer base through online channels will fare better than those that still require phone and on-site interaction. 

Online order for store pickup, in particular, has been a successful endeavor for most brands, helping encourage shopper purchases during the most uncertain times (especially in April and May). And these businesses have likely gained a fair share of ongoing pick-up customers as a result. Companies successfully executing store pickups during this trial period will benefit from gaining more paid subscribers after the pandemic has ended.


Read more: 3 Pitfalls to Avoid in Grocery Curbside Pickup Service

Be the easiest to work with, virtually

More and more consumers are shifting to the safety of online/virtual interactions across industries, making it easier than ever for them to try new products and services. Many of them, however, will do so regardless of past brand preference — thus, making brands work harder to adapt their approach in order to maintain loyalty. Keep your current customers by streamlining every aspect of the purchase process by upping your online shopping game.


Are You Meeting 2020 Consumer Expectations? Here’s How to Solve the Mystery.

No matter the industry, COVID-19 has changed everything about business functions, along with how to measure the customer experience. Mystery shopping has proven to be the most efficient way of ensuring a successful pivot through a social distanced lens. Here’s why.


You Get a Direct Report from the Front Line

A corporate strategy for customer engagement and COVID-19 safety measures is only as good as implemented and followed by front line managers and employees. Mystery shopping serves as the pulse-check an organization needs to ensure the brand is delivering on their promise to provide exemplary service — while keeping consumers safe within their stores during this time.


Mystery Shoppers Are Trained On the Safety Checklist

Mystery shoppers are uniquely trained to ensure locations have correctly installed protective plexiglass barriers, provided hand sanitizer for employees and guests, and adapted product demonstration and try-on standards to ensure safety. They are also able note how well locations are monitoring customer traffic flow and adherence to mask requirements. 

On-site mystery shoppers can even capture discreet photo imagery of how stores are set up to protect customers and employees. This information can be shared with field management and corporate teams to ensure that consistent and exceptional standards are maintained to gain and retain customer trust and loyalty.


You Can Ensure Social Connection Amidst Social Distancing

Personal interactions can be slightly diminished because of social distancing and face coverings. Employees may shy away from making eye contact, greeting customers, or offering assistance in order to avoid interaction. To a customer, this can be perceived as lack of caring, which can result in an unpleasant experience. 

It’s true that customers want safety above all else, but they also want to be appreciated. The basic actions of greeting, making eye contact, offering assistance, and having conversations with customers can be important satisfaction drivers as we distance ourselves from one another physically. Mystery shoppers can report back about how well you are meeting this need.


You Capture What You’re Doing Right

Mystery shopping is also uniquely positioned to provide insight on best practices within the organization. All organizations have talented individuals, and having a vehicle to capture exceptional handling or delivery of service at top-performing stores can be critical to improving service levels across the company. 



What Should You Do Now?

If your current customer experience is a mystery, you can get the answers you need by launching or restarting your programs. This is the key to understanding how your current service is being perceived and if that can be improved upon during the pandemic. 

We’re in a whole new space for each industry. There is opportunity for the proactive brand to gain significant ground in market share — only if they’re measuring the right way. 

Second to None is here to help you restart, rebound, and rebuild.