The COVID-19 pandemic has redefined how businesses need to interact with customers. As buyers demand virtual and touchless experiences that safeguard their health and inspire trust, organizations must respond with speed, empathy, and humanity.
The COVID-19 pandemic caused customers across virtually every sector to rethink their lifestyle and purchasing habits in dramatic ways—some of which are likely to endure even after the public health threat has passed. From retail to banking, and from the restaurant industry to the doctor’s office, the human need for safety and the shift from physical to virtual interactions has disrupted the traditional business-to-customer relationship.
Even as the customer experience shifts increasingly into the digital realm, the need for companies to connect with their human needs over multiple channels has never been more important. It’s a long-standing rule that the customer is always right—and in the next normal, she will also demand to be understood.
The new, post-pandemic landscape will accelerate the pace of technological change, challenging organizations to transform their capabilities to target and fulfill evolving customer needs. The most successful businesses will keep innovating to deliver empathetic, human-centered experiences powered by state-of-the-art digital solutions.
Powerful data analysis will enable organizations to understand customers and cater to their individual needs; cloud-based AI solutions, combined with dynamic e-commerce storefronts and mobile apps, will deliver a seamless, secure, and responsive end-to-end buying journey. In the redesigned physical space, streamlined experiences and touchless interactions will inspire customer confidence and drive loyalty to the brand.
Leaders will need to anticipate whether and how the pandemic has permanently altered behaviors, experiences, expectations, and the role of digital engagement. - Punit Renjen, Deloitte Global CEO, The essence of resilient leadership: Business recovery from COVID-19
The shift from physical to virtual shopping has reshaped the retail landscape. Even after the COVID-19 threat subsides, and in-store activity increases, customers will still demand a healthy and safe experience. Physical stores will need to adapt even as the online experience evolves and grows. The dramatic demands placed on ‘essential’ retailers such as grocery stores and pharmacies during the pandemic sparked a flurry of digital fixes that continue to be refined and expanded across the changing industry.
Retailers that understand and adapt to evolving customer needs will be positioned to thrive. The future of customer experience lies in human-centered transactions powered by leading-edge digital solutions.
As the next normal unfolds, business will increasingly deploy solutions such as data-driven customer insights to drive new offerings and optimize online storefronts; AI-enabled chatbots and other novel customer-service enhancements; safe and convenient "touchless” in-store interactions; and creative solutions to make the entire store-to-door delivery experience seamless and engaging.
The most important circumstance to understand is how safety has reasserted itself as a basic human need that will color every commercial interaction. - A Human-First Approach as you Recover and Thrive
Managing money and buying insurance has played out for decades in the local bank branch and insurance brokerage. But the shift to virtual interactions, already underway before the COVID-19 pandemic, is now accelerating. Habits formed during the time of social distancing are likely to stick, as customers increasingly demand the convenience and speed of digital solutions to manage complex transactions that used to be handled across a counter.
Customers are becoming comfortable with the fact that even the most important milestones—applying for a mortgage or business loan, purchasing life insurance—can be handled quickly, safely, and responsively online, by phone (and now video call). They expect financial institutions to understand and empathize with their needs, even in a digital environment. And they will expect them to continue to do business in empathetic and socially responsible ways, long after the pandemic has passed.
Empathy, convenience and speed are now the cornerstones of customer sales and service. Banks and other financial institutions will need to quickly scale their capabilities to seamlessly deliver even the most complex transactions online, while rethinking physical spaces for customers resistant to change. Meanwhile, insurers will need to accelerate the shift to online policy purchasing and claims management, while maintaining flexibility and attention to customers’ human needs.
Cloud-based advanced digital technologies will be key, including cognitive and analytical solutions for opening accounts, approving loans and policies, responding to claims, or managing investments. Every transaction will need to be tailored to individual customer circumstances and delivered via user-friendly websites and mobile apps that offer leading-edge cybersecurity. Businesses that manage the shift to virtual customer interaction while delivering flexible and human-centric service will be best positioned for recovery and growth
The time seems right for a rethink leading to an omnichannel approach for banks. - Deloitte, A human-first approach as you recover and thrive
The post-pandemic needs of travelers will confront the industry with two enormous challenges: Customers will not only demand reassurance that vacations or business trips pose no threat to their health, but also seek new, value-for-money options that justify traveling during tough economic times.
When it comes to ensuring the highest standards of physical safety and sanitation, leisure travelers will set the bar high for airlines, cruise lines, hotels, tour operators and car rental firms. They will also expect the same of the public operators of airports, train stations and other travel hubs. Meanwhile, the widespread adoption of remote working and videoconferencing during the COVID-19 pandemic has given proof to organizations of an effective, safe and low-cost alternative method for taking part in business meetings and conferences around the world. Even after the pandemic threat retreats, they are unlikely to return to business travel at previous levels.
Travel and hospitality organizations that can most effectively make their services safe and friction-free—and communicate these changes to the customer—are the ones most likely to recover quickly and place themselves back on the path to sustainable growth. They will also need to further personalize their relationships with both leisure and business customers and target them with innovative pricing, loyalty and customer-experience offers that reignite their desire to travel, especially on international trips.
Adoption of advanced technology, including AI, automation and analytics, will be key to enabling airlines, hotels and related companies to take the friction out of the end-to-end travel experience—from researching safe and attractively-priced travel options to seamless booking, all the way through to airport health screening, contactless interactions and safe and well-managed accommodations. Above all, technology that empowers customers by giving them access to human-centered, 24/7 customer service will be a difference-maker for travel organizations in the next normal.
For travel providers, success will likely be determined by the ability to respond to the health and financial uncertainty ahead - Deloitte Insights, Looking Forward to the Recovery of Leisure Travel Demand
COVID-19 pandemic, the shift from physical to virtual interactions brought safe
and reliable connectivity to the fore. Post-pandemic, the ability of digital
connections to keep business, public services, remote work and home life
running will continue to be one of our most essential needs.
Enterprise customers and personal consumers alike will share the same basic needs: fast and reliable computing hardware and mobile devices; speedy and secure connectivity even when network demand surges; responsive and empathetic customer service to solve technical problems quickly and virtually; a stream of new and innovative solutions; and flexible pricing options. Meanwhile, in physical spaces such as retailers, restaurants and health providers, users will look for ‘touchless’ interactions and other creative solutions that minimize contact and prioritize safety.
With connectivity as king in the next normal, technology and telecom companies’ first priority will be to hasten the delivery and adoption of 5G service and hardware. They will also be looking to help customers undergo cloud transformation and implement the software-as-a-service solutions that will enable enterprises to tackle future operations and workforce challenges. Underpinning all this will be a laser focus on state-of-the-art cyber protection.
Technology and telecom businesses will also need new tools to take customer service to a new level. Using data-driven insights and AI tools, they can tailor new pricing models, subscription services and offers to individual customer needs, and deploy innovative customer touchpoints, such as chatbots or video consultations, to respond to technical problems and questions in real time. With confidence in digital connectedness likely to grow as an essential human and business need, the technology companies that can provide it to their customers will be best positioned to thrive.
Because technology has changed the way every industry operates, the decisions tech companies make today can help companies from every industry recover and thrive. - Deloitte, COVID-19 outlook for the US technology industry
The most widespread global health threat in decades—COVID-19—will almost certainly be the catalyst that finally kicks health care provision firmly into the digital age. Patients’ need to safeguard their personal health during the pandemic has hastened a shift to virtual care that is not going to recede when the threat is past. The old days of long wait for appointments, sitting for hours in cramped doctor’s offices, and inefficient health data portability will no longer meet customer expectations.
Moving forward, patients will seek out physicians and providers that can offer them high-quality personalized care—including video consultations, digital appointment booking, at-home monitoring, wider choice, better access to the care they want, greater sightlines into their personal health data, and a more seamless customer experience when moving between primary care, specialists, and hospitals. Whether in private or publically funded health care systems, the next normal will be one that heralds the growth of patient power.
The accelerated pace of the virtualization and digitization of health care presents an unique opportunity to providers, networks and insurers to take patient care and service to new levels of quality, all while driving efficiencies and long-term growth. In the near term, they will need to move quickly to drive patient confidence by bolstering the switch to virtual care delivery sparked by the pandemic.
Moving forward, investments will also be needed in the advanced technologies and cloud services that will truly transform the customer experience, including AI-driven scheduling of care pathways, cognitive tools for better diagnosis, wearable technology that enables at-home outpatient monitoring, powerful data tools that increase patient access and choice, and more. Public health administrations will also need to leverage leading-edge digital solutions to help safeguard citizens by monitoring and managing future health threats in the post-COVID-19 world.
Deloitte’s insurance group brings together specialists from actuarial, risk, operations, technology, tax and audit. These skill sets, combined with deep industry knowledge, allow us to provide a breadth of services to life, property and casualty, reinsurers and insurance broker clients.