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For B2C, Cleanliness Is the New Black

Jim Tincher Jim Tincher 10/29/2020

Let’s not beat around the bush: $#@&*%! coronavirus trashed your journeys.

Prior to the pandemic, organizations had clear strategies on how to serve their customers, working to deliver an ever-improving experience to earn loyalty.

A better experience is still required…but how we go about providing it – and what “it” even is – has completely changed, particularly for B2C companies, where among other things, face-to-face interactions now take place mask-to-mask.

When I hosted a fireside chat earlier this month with Alison Circle, the Chief Customer Experience Officer for the Columbus Library system, she told me how difficult new protocols necessitated by the pandemic have made it to forge personal connections between staff and customers. But safety just has to come first.

Customer needs are changing…

It reminded me of a time ten years ago, when I told a global pizza company I worked with that they’d never differentiate themselves through higher standards for the cleanliness of their bathrooms – it was going to require creating an emotional connection between their staff and customers.

That was the right answer ten years ago, and certainly personal connections still have a role to play…but let’s face it: cleanliness is kind of having a moment right now.

It used to be table stakes. Cleanliness only mattered if a location was obviously dirty. Now, retailers, hotels, and restaurants need to make it abundantly clear that they regularly and thoroughly clean everything.

…Luckily, so is feedback collection

Great brands are discovering to how to go deep into these kinds of customer needs during this fraught time by taking a broader look. Few brands had “cleanliness” as a survey question prior to COVID, so tracking the change hasn’t been easy. But text analytics can show trends even without asking specifically in a survey. Flexible feedback mechanisms allow companies to discover changing customer needs without having to add yet another question.

That’s one of the benefits of new technology: the ability to discover new needs without having to continually change survey questions. It’s this type of approach I enjoyed learning about as I met with TGI Friday’s Director of Loyalty and Customer Engagement Ana Pia Guzman-Briley, Radisson Hotel Group’s Vice President of Global Loyalty & CRM Efrem Berman, and Extended Stay America’s Chief Customer Experience Officer Mike Kuenne.

We had a great conversation as we prepared for our panel discussion, “Connecting the Dots Between Customer Service, Experience, and Engagement,” coming up at Reuters Events’ Customer Service & Experience USA 2020, which takes place November 17-18, 2020.

At the conference, we’re going to talk through how TGI Friday’s, Radisson Hotels, and Extended Stay America are adapting to changing customer expectations, and engaging their employees to meet both the challenges and opportunities presented by this [sorry, here comes that word again] unprecedented time. I hope you’ll join us. Sign up here to get a free learning pass!

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