Adapting Customer Experience (CX) for a Post-COVID World

Customer Support Agents

The coronavirus pandemic has had an indelible impact on consumer behaviour, from accelerating touchless and digitally-driven experiences to reviving traditional channels, and much more.

Maz Javadzadeh, client relationship director at Paragon Customer Communications, outlines why businesses now have a unique opportunity to position themselves at the forefront of longer-term transitions in consumer behaviour that result from this crisis.

For today’s organisations, the outbreak of Covid-19 has created an even greater need to stay open, maintain clear and consistent communication and build deeper long-lasting relationships with customers. Faced with the need to create more compelling, relevant and timely engagement across multiple touchpoints, many Chief Customer Officers (CCOs) and Chief Information Officers (CIOs) have been forced to revisit and reform customer experience (CX) strategies with varying success.

While some companies have invariably been able to deliver true innovation under challenging circumstances, be that by developing new technologies, or finding creative ways of using existing platforms to transform customer-centric experiences and deliver value, many have faltered in their efforts to drive their companies forward in the ‘new normal’.

Barriers to progressive change

Arguably the greatest challenge for countless business leaders has been the sheer pace of change required. Though enterprises have, in the past, had the luxury of time to deploy major changes across their businesses to meet evolving customer expectations, the fluid nature of the pandemic has fast-tracked transformation.

Changes that would ordinarily have played out over the course of months, or even years, have happened virtually instantaneously, compelling businesses to adapt, pivot and change strategies rapidly.

Undoubtedly in a bid to deliver highly adaptive CX strategies of this nature, particularly in such time-constrained circumstances, several hard lessons have been learned. Indeed, the necessity to deploy increasingly advanced technologies, as well as new communications channels at the pace necessary to meet the requirements of evolving customer journeys, has exposed previously unknown flaws in many organisations’ internal structures and legacy systems.

One thing that has become apparent, particularly at the onset of the crisis, is the underlying impediments of convoluted IT frameworks and legacy systems that are simply not built to achieve such rapid and widespread change across all of the communication channels. Furthermore, such systems often fail to provide the adequate delivery infrastructure to support the heavily data-rich CX strategies and customer communications management (CCM) delivery models obligatory for modern customer journeys.

Considering customer journeys

Regrettably, the lack of suitable systems has prompted many failures in how businesses have adapted to buyers’ ever-escalating expectations. As CCOs and CIOs sought a ‘quick fix’ for improving CX, many focused their attention on delivering improvements across digital channels such as web, social and mobile – largely due to their perceived importance in the ‘new normal’ and ease of adaptation.

And while such a singular focus on digital proficiency clearer has its merits – particular as online channels become a key enabler for driving positive CX in a post-Covid era, with 91% of UK marketers reporting an increase in the use of online services by consumers in the midst of the outbreak – it also has some considerable disadvantages. Perhaps most notable of these is the neglect of traditional communication channels such as print, which may still have a fundamental role to play in customer journeys.

By failing to consider their unique customer journeys, and adapting the channels that consumers engage with most often, business leaders run the very real risk of creating customer journey disconnect by missing critical buyer engagement points. This is especially prevalent given that 70% of consumers say a company’s understanding of their individual needs influences their loyalty.

Having a critical knowledge of customers, and learning from their unique behaviours, therefore, remains fundamental to the success of CX. Achieving such a deep-rooted understanding, nonetheless, often requires a fundamental change in the way enterprises operate and manage customer-centric transformation.

A cohesive ecosystem

Critical to any effective CX strategy is ensuring it is underpinned by a cohesive eco-system of leading-edge technologies. Deploying a single, centralised view of how an organisation communicates with customers will provide the delivery infrastructure to support truly frictionless customer communications. What’s more, it can also unify previously fragmented communications technologies across the breadth of an organisation.

Particularly critical in these times of crisis, where customer journeys have transformed virtually instantaneously, the resultant centralised view of how organisations communicate with their customers makes deploying changes across all channels much easier.

In an age where digital-driven disciplines and data have become the very focal point of modern CX strategies, having a unified view of existing customer data can present countless advantages. Not only can it lead to a critical understanding of customers’ unique behaviours, preferences and their stage in the customer journey, but also communication strategies that are engrained with customer-relevant messages and incisive targeting.

Naturally, while being equipped with the most appropriate technologies and tools will position business leaders strongly for the post-pandemic landscape, they must also be empowered with the knowledge to be the driving force behind their organisation’s CX transformation.

It is in this regard that the capabilities of an experienced customer communications partner – much like an external marketing agency – can offer significant value.

About the Author

Maz JavadzadehMaz Javadzadeh is Client Relationship Director at Paragon Customer Communications, the innovative, award-winning company that combines generations of expertise with the latest innovations in technology and smart data to improve all aspects of communications for businesses. A highly skilled senior operations leader and client director with a proven agency and client-side track record, he has extensive experience of leading large multi-functional teams across data, analytic, client delivery, account direction and support, ensuring a change culture that implements high-quality strategies to deliver business growth.

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