Safe is the New Sexy

What kind of Customer Experience will your customers be looking for in a post-COVID-19 world? Safety will be high on the list of priorities. So how do you bake that into the experience?

I’m going to tell you a story. In this story, a couple is strolling along a city street wondering where they might stop for dinner.  They like to be spontaneous. It’s a new city for them, and the adventure of simply walking the streets is exciting (they only arrived this morning, and have spent much of the day browsing the local shops). The street is blocked off to cars, and lots of people, both locals and tourists, are out enjoying the pleasant early evening.  Our couple decides to stop at a restaurant one of them has read about. It’s lined up, and clearly pretty jammed inside with people seated shoulder to shoulder. But that’s okay. In fact, it’s part of the adventure of the new city, and this restaurant is particularly well known. They decide to join the line, and look forward to their evening.

As you envision this scene, you recognized this as being from a time “before.” It could have been January in Bermuda, or last June in Brussels, or five years ago in Austin. But what I describe could not possibly be a scene from today, not from anywhere on the entire planet. Think about that.

But we still crave these things, so we will find a way to bring them back. There are two BIG QUESTIONS: 

1.  How have our priorities changed from the couple I described, and

2. What options do companies have to give us the Customer Experience that our new set of priorities demands?

Marketing 101

To answer those questions, we need to go back to Marketing 101, and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. In order, they are physiological, safety, love and social belonging, self-esteem, self-actualization, and transcendence. While there are plenty of opinions around nuance, specific sequence, and cultural differences, the generally accepted thinking is that we need the first two to be met, before we can move to the next group. Marketers and designers of customer experience have traditionally focused on the upper four, assuming that the first two, psychological, and safety, have been long since crossed off the list.

Such is not the case anymore. Think of the couple I told you about. They probably took a plane to where they are now, and are probably staying in a hotel or Airbnb. Assuming we’re considering a time in which 14-day self-quarantine is no longer in effect, what would their experience have to look like today for YOU to want to change places with them?

Understanding how you can meet your customers’ revised priorities will mean the difference between thriving in the new economy, or being a relic of a time that has passed. Your customers still want to engage with your brand, and many will not risk their sense of safety. These two ideas need to co-exist for your brand to thrive. Do they?

Join me in this space, over the next few weeksrri, as well as my podcast, as I explore how industries are rising to the challenge of the New Rules of CX. 

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