While COVID-19 is taking over more and more areas of our lives, our habits as well as our consumer behavior are inevitably changing. Where we used to hold personal meetings in the office, we now meet in video calls. Where just a few weeks ago we would have gone to the movies with friends, watching films online is now the digital equivalent. It is already becoming apparent that all the far-reaching socio-economic changes we are currently seeing will present major hurdles from a business perspective.
And yet: there will be winners as well. While many of those companies are undoubtedly benefiting from the current situation thanks to their business model, it is too easy to mistakenly attribute their current success to chance. Some of the best-performing companies in this time of crisis have a reputation for paying special attention to their customer experience –and that is where their recipe for success lies.
With their messaging app, Slack has shaped the way modern teams and organizations communicate with each other like few other companies. In times of Corona-caused home offices, it is not surprising that Slack – like other communication services – has seen a strong increase in users. After all, now more than ever, companies are looking for a simple, fast, and holistic digital collaboration. What has always distinguished Slack, and in some cases set it apart from its direct competitors, is the strong focus on the customer experience that the team has placed at the heart of product development from the outset. Which integrations are relevant for customers? Which functions in particular are needed? How do needs differ depending on the size of the organization?
Even at times when their headcount was barely in double figures, the team tried to proactively gather customer feedback and incorporate it directly into the development processes. Slack has managed to design its product according to the ideas of its customers, thus setting an example of true customer-centricity. This is an organizational core value that is also noticeable in times of crisis: The company recently announced that it was revising its user interface to make core functions more user-friendly.
With a subscription-based business model in the entertainment sector, customer retention is one of the integral factors that determine whether a company is successful or not. For example, if the customer has the impression that the offering is not diverse enough, that the UX is very impractical, or that the cost point is not appropriate compared to the competition, he or she will cancel the subscription. Furthermore, in most cases, the companies in question will not even be aware of the exact reasons why a customer has lost interest.
One company that has understood this issue and has a reputation for exemplary customer centricity in its industry is Netflix. In addition to the highly personalized content – i.e. the films, series, and even the artwork, which is displayed to users in thumbnails – the team collects feedback at various customer touchpoints and tries to incorporate it into the development of the customer experience. For example, based on customer feedback, the Netflix team has set up a fairly comprehensive Help Center to make the CX as smooth as possible for users. Through a detailed analysis of user behavior, Netflix was also able to identify that a large percentage of viewers like to consume series within a short period of time rather than waiting for a new episode each week. This discovery was followed by the regulation to release whole seasons at once instead of single episodes. Binge-watching was born.
Another company that is likely to benefit from the current situation is the fitness start-up Peloton. The company sells spinning bikes with an integrated screen which allows users to participate in online classes for a monthly membership fee. Peloton’s vision: to offer an alternative to the regular gym for your own home. In times of fitness studios being closed, a potential recipe for success. One aspect that further differentiates the New York Unicorn from its competitors is its strong focus on outstanding, holistic customer experience.
One example of this is the measures designed to create an integrating community feeling, despite the physical distance between members. For example, members have the opportunity to compete in challenges with friends, relatives, and other community members, or to engage in dedicated Peloton Facebook groups. In order to ensure a constant optimization of the customer experience, Peloton regularly surveys its customers at different touchpoints of the Customer Journey. Relevant trends and insights gained are then passed on to the appropriate departments in order to further adapt products and offers to customer wishes and needs.
Prime examples such as Slack, Netflix, or Peloton have trained consumers to expect a first-class customer experience. This is the case in regular times, and perhaps even more so in crisis situations. Attributing the success of these companies to the power of chance is too easy. They have made CX a central component of their marketing and product strategy – and are now reaping the rewards.