Expert InterviewsPodcasts

The impact of Covid 19 and customer experience in the new normal: interview with Jennifer Wright – E83

Customer experience transformation expert and Director of Experience Analytics at Magellan Health, Jennifer Wright, shares insights on CX in the age of Covid 19 and beyond. Jennifer leverages her knowledge of consumer behavior and experience as a CX leader across multiple sectors to provide insights about how customer experience is changing in response to the current global health pandemic. Jennifer and show host, Julia, discuss what “good” customer experience looks like these days, some examples of organizations that have been able to quickly pivot, and how the pandemic may change the way organizations measure and manage CX. If you’re looking for insight about Covid 19 and customer experience, and what you can do to help your organization prepare for CX management in the “new normal”, then this episode is for you.

Expert insights

Jennifer Wright is a customer experience transformation expert who designs and grows CX capabilities that generate actionable insights for business leaders. Through her experience building multiple CX capabilities across both the public and private sectors, she has developed a deep understanding of the common challenges faced when creating a superior customer experience. Jennifer delivers innovative solutions to these challenges by leveraging cross-industry knowledge and service design methods. Jennifer is a Certified Customer Experience Professional and holds a doctorate in industrial-organizational psychology from the University of Oklahoma. Her work in the field of customer experience spans multiple industries. Jennifer has worked in the financial services sector, helping writers, data scientists and psychologists to leverage behavioral economics or ‘nudge’ techniques to help homeowners through the post-mortgage crisis period in keeping their homes. She served as the Branch chief of business analytics at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, building and leading the Voice of the Customer (VoC) team within this US Federal government agency. And most recently she’s worked at Magellan Health where she’s led the customer analytics function for this managed healthcare company.

Jennifer Wright, Phd, CCXP

If you’d like to learn more about Jennifer’s work, be sure to follow her on LinkedIn, where she often shares insights about customer experience and more.

Covid 19 and customer experience

Covid-19 has changed everything. In a mater of a few short weeks, this health pandemic has brought entire sectors of the economy to a standstill, closed schools, forced a good chunk of the world’s population into some form of lockdown, and brought the term “social distancing” to the forefront of everyone’s mind. It has left a lot of CX professionals wondering what’s next.

Jennifer anticipates that the next 1-2 years will be very fluid. We’ve seen a dramatic swing to remote and digital experiences, but the impact will be different for various industries. Within healthcare, the overnight transition to telehealth has been one of the biggest changes, but it’s just one of many experiences that has moved from the in-person to the digital realm. Jennifer points out that once people get used to the convenience and safety factor, these changes may remain permanent.

Experiences that can’t be completely moved to the virtual space, such as dining out or going to the grocery store, have been significantly impacted, and Jennifer suspects there will be some lingering changes in consumer preferences, even after the Plexiglas barriers are removed. She anticipates that consumers will be hesitant about things like touching surfaces for some time. This will fundamentally alter the sensory aspect of physical customer experiences and attitudes towards these interactions. Time will tell if these attitudes and preferences become permanent.

Honestly, it’s going to be a tough call for probably the next year to two years. We’re going to see a lot of different impacts and probably differences by sectors.

Being home-bound will also change the types of products and services that people consume. Yes, there was an initial rush on survival basics like toilet paper, but now that the panic-buying has mostly subsided, we’ll likely see waves of product popularity as people decide they want different products as part of their new home-bound life. For example, there has been a rise in the popularity of baking, and as a result, the supply chain for baking flour has had to shift from a model largely reliant on wholesale demand to one that includes more retail sales. Organizations across industries will need to keep their finger on the pulse of these evolving trends and their ripple-effect through the marketplace. 

Silver linings

Even amid the human tragedy and chaotic uncertainty in the business world, there have been some small silver linings. Jennifer points to telehealth as a change that may bring healthcare access to more people in the long run.

Those who are housebound due to disabilities, live in rural locations or don’t have access to reliable transportation have historically encountered challenges accessing healthcare. Telehealth and video -based doctor consultations may provide these patients with more reliable and sustainable access to healthcare. Virtual healthcare solutions also bring about efficiencies for doctors and healthcare providers, enabling them to see more patients during their working hours.

The benefits of telehealth are just one example in one industry, but the combination of imposed government restrictions and changing consumer preferences has catalyzed many organizations to rethink experiences from the ground up. Covid 19 and customer experience needn’t be foes. Some experiences will be redesigned in ways that benefit consumers and providers for many years to come.

New sources of data

The shift to more digital or virtual experiences will result in greater opportunities for data collection. IoT technology has introduced new possibilities for gathering insights about in-person customer experiences, but these technologies have yet to be widely adopted. As a result many customer journeys still have considerable data blindspots. Experiences that move from the physical world to the virtual space will create additional data points that organizations can use to understand customers and respond. But only if they collect and use that data wisely.

Jennifer believes that even small businesses like local restaurants can use new sources of data to be smarter about planning their operations and stay agile while consumer preferences and behaviors are still in a state of flux. The key will be to ensure that new technology solutions are collecting the right kind of data, and that this information is used to drive action.

If you’re really smart about it, when you implement some of these solutions, you could actually have the analytics baked into your implementation plan, so that you are collecting data as part of how you implement your technology solution. And you’re getting data from day one, that gives you more ability to be adaptable.

Time to dial up the diplomacy

In her parting words, Jennifer reminded CX professionals that it’s important to keep helping others build relationships across team lines. CX professionals can do their job most effectively when there is strong cross-functional collaboration. The sooner one starts building these bridges, the better. By building a robust network, CX professionals are doing a service to their company, and that network will in turn benefit CX professionals. The stronger these bonds, the better equipped organizations will be to respond in a time of crisis. 

Want to keep learning about CX?

Decoding the Customer is a series of customer experience podcasts created and produced by Julia Ahlfeldt, CCXP. Julia is a customer experience strategist, speaker and business advisor. She is a Certified Customer Experience Professional and one of the top experts in customer experience management. To find out more about how Julia can help your business define customer experience strategy that delivers results, check out her customer experience advisory consulting services or get in touch via email. To hear other episodes of Decoding the Customer, click here.

Julia Ahlfeldt

Author Julia Ahlfeldt

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