Whilst a second lockdown has put a pause on many of the customer experiences, the question of how we can actually create a customer experience whilst in cycles of different restrictions, is an important one.

All aspects of experiential design have been impacted, at least in part, by COVID-19. The challenge of operating safely with the customer experience in mind is a difficult one but is crucial in progressing forward.

Whilst the temporary signs and make do adjustments saw many through the first month or two, others invested in “2m apart” branded signage and resources to meet guidelines. It soon became apparent that lockdown measures would change and shift over time, to meet the change in cases.

 

If everything around you is changing, how can you offer a customer experience that is true to your business and the customers you serve?

Everything has shifted due to COVID-19 and rather than trying to keep altering your offer with temporary fixes this time presents opportunity to think creatively. There are real challenges to tackle and it feels like we can be part of the solution in moving the customer experience forward by design, instead of waiting for a permanent reversal.

We don’t know how long the ‘temporary’ will last and if we focus too hard on what was, we risk becoming obsolete. The only certainty is the need for flexibility in terms of the environment you deliver within and the evolving service that’s needed.

Rather than designing a customer experience based on regulation, align it to the principals of your organisations’ brand and purpose. If that’s not in sync, you may need to re-think or pivot what you offer.

Thinking beyond tape, cheap screens and temporary signage, your environment must consider levels of flexibility, opportunities to integrate technology and focus on an attention to detail in creating an experiential journey whilst delivering brand experience.

Especially during times of crisis, a customer’s experience with an organisation can impact their sense of loyalty and trust. As household budgets are squeezed and the ongoing uncertainty and worry of the pandemic continues, how experiences are delivered with clarity, care and empathy are critical to ongoing success.

 

Technology & Processes

What a full lockdown highlighted for many, was the need for better communication. Whilst many organisations communicate successfully with customers, whether through regular email updates, social media, or through post, this need has been amplified.

As many businesses we work with have shifted to take-out solutions and outside dining, one of the key issues they faced was being able to deliver the same level of service and experience as pre- pandemic levels. First they improvised but most continue to adapt and engage with their existing and new audience in providing extended experiences.

Many continue in providing services that add value to customers whilst in pandemic circumstances; such as delivery services, recipes for home and ingredients lists, through to discussions over evolving take out menus, events, and things to look forward to as restrictions lift.

Significant changes to the systems and processes through which customers search for availability, make reservations, check symptoms, sign waivers, provide feedback, make requests, order services have all changed. Integrating these systems and processes into the way your environment is designed can make them feel seamless and add value to the experience rather than arbitrary and awkward.

 

Emotion & Experience

We are architects of emotion. We can shift people from anxious to calm, confused to confident, and frustrated to comfortable. In life under the curve, emotions are paramount. Customers and employees will return to places where they feel safe and have a sense of agency. To reopen our physical spaces, we must design with this in mind. Emotional architecture, our design methodology, is built to elicit these specific emotions.

As we move forward and create new and improved customer experiences, brands, organisations and workplaces must first consider how their space makes people feel. We must identify the feelings that visitors experience at key moments and uncover opportunities for experience interventions that positively shift those emotions. From workplace to hospitality venues, what happens in each space may be very different, but the underlying emotional needs remain the same.

 

First we improvised, now we must adapt.

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