The novel coronavirus shut down the US economy, freezing US consumer spending. This, however, is a temporary situation — consumers will resume spending when it is safe again for them to conduct regular commerce. So the question customer experience (CX) professionals must ask their businesses is, “Are we positioned to recapture our clients once they are ready to come back?”

The US Customer Experience Index, 2020 — which measures the relationship between CX quality and customer loyalty — suggests that many companies built up a reservoir of CX equity prior to the COVID-19-imposed economic slowdown:

  • Twenty-seven percent of brands saw their CX Index scores increase. The average score increase was 3.6 points, with eight brands increasing their scores by five or six points.
  • The number of scores in the good category rose 3 percentage points. This was the largest shift in five years and was spearheaded by improvements among multichannel retailers, hotels, and multichannel banks.
  • Nine industries saw statistically significant increases in their average scores. The catalyst for this increase was the scores for the brands at the bottom of these industries climbing toward respectability.

Like any asset, the CX equity companies built can be squandered through poor investments — failing to fix predictable problems, supporting experiences that don’t align to new customer behaviors, chasing customers whose needs don’t align with your value proposition, and more. The companies that will thrive post-pandemic will be those that grew their CX equity through wise investments. So what is a wise investment?

Smart CX professionals will help their businesses use their CX equity to help their businesses get closer to their clients so they can:

  • Uncover what customers value. Because there are many facets of value, it is difficult for businesses to understand what their customers get out of a product or service. CX pros can leverage built-up goodwill with customers — and add to it — by inviting customers into the product or service design process so the customers can provide insight into their habits, needs, and goals. Soliciting this type of feedback should help position the company as one that cares about getting the experience right for the customer.
  • Align the business’s value proposition to the customer’s sense of value. The insights into what customers value should help CX pros tell their business leaders whether what the business wants to deliver meets the needs of their existing customers. If it does not, this may be an opportunity to look at changing the target customer or shifting the product and services portfolio to better help existing customers meet their goals.
  • Run experiments to find new ways to deliver value. Consistently good customer experiences give companies the latitude to try new things with their customers. CX pros can help their businesses tune their value proposition for their desired customer base through trials. These efforts should be targeted at delighting customers by setting new standards for different experiences.

Done properly, these equity investments should help smart companies emerge from the pandemic with a differentiated customer experience that effectively meets customer needs in a way that isn’t emotionally taxing.

To gain more insight into which companies are already starting to create differentiated customer experiences, I invite you to read “The US Customer Experience Index, 2020.” And if you want to discuss this topic with us, I invite you to join the webinar that my colleague Michelle Yaiser and I will be hosting on this topic on August 6, 2020. I hope to speak with you there.