If I hear one more expert talking about the ‘new normal’, I’m going to blow a fuse. For starters, there was no ‘old normal’. In fact, ‘normal’ as a concept doesn’t mean much – every person, every business, every household is unique, so who’s going to decide what constitutes normal?
An acceleration of adoption
What the COVID-19 crisis has done is accelerate people’s thinking and adoption of different ways of doing things that were habitual in the world we once knew. A significant part of this acceleration involves technology; doing things online that weren’t done that way before, or using technology to facilitate real-world activities in a different way.
So what? Well, the key question here is ‘to what extent will people continue with habits they’ve created during the lockdown after they’re free to act as they could before?’
Some intriguing research results
Fortunately, McKinsey (Gizem Günday and Shani Wijetilaka) has been hard at work asking just this question, with some intriguing results. Results, we might argue, that should cause many businesses to question their existing methods of providing their product or service. For some, a refresh of their IT systems and procedures may be needed to match customers’ new expectations for delivery.
McKinsey identified the activities that have grown quickly since COVID-19 and then asked people about their intent to continue doing these things the same way after COVID-19.
The activities were usage had grown by more than 40% and for which greater than 50% of respondents said they intended to continue were:
- Remote learning – self
- Buying on-line for in-store pickup
- Online fitness
50% of the people who hadn’t previously adopted the technology intend to continue.
These three categories where defined as indicative of an accelerated shift in behaviour. If your standard home broadband capacity is more than enough to perform these 3 activities online, it seems like they are here to stay. What does that mean for small training providers, used to hosting classroom activities, or independent gyms who offer classes? These are the businesses that need to start thinking, right now, about what this could mean for their livelihoods.
Another group of activities was categorised as ‘Potentially here to stay’. It included:
- Wellness apps
- Grocery delivery
- In-store self-checkout
- Spending time outdoors
- Online streaming
Many people may have been doing these activities for a long time, but the point here is more than 50% of the people who hadn’t previously adopted the technology (perhaps due to fear or lack of knowledge) are now stating they intend to continue using them.
What can you do?
Now is a great time to grab a blank sheet of paper and write ‘customer experience’ at the top in red. Then create a flowchart of your customers’ experience, looking at your business through their eyes. As you do this, consider if the willingness of people to adopt new technology might lead you to rethink your offering. You might be able to deliver much higher levels of customer service if people are willing to embrace new ways of interacting with you.
Here’s an example – a client of mine runs a painting and decorating business. He used to travel to people’s homes to do an estimate, using years of experience to eyeball a space and come up with a price for the job. He’s tested the principle of a Zoom Estimate – he joins the prospect on a call and walks through the space with them, using his tried and tested eyeball technique, but via Zoom. Customers love it, because it’s COVID risk-free, convenient and engaging.
Our broadband infrastructure isn’t perfect in the UK, but people are starting to engage with products and services delivered in a different way. 5G could make this even easier and more appealing in some parts of the country as data rates rise.
Ask yourself this question ‘How can my business grow by following the consumer trend for greater adoption of virtual solutions to real-world challenges’. The answers could transform your sales and profits.