The business world has been hit by a perfect storm in recent years. The appearance of the internet and its widespread Global adoption caught many once-proud brands by surprise. Traditional points of differentiation were eroded and so many brands almost instantly reduced to the status of commodities by price-comparison websites.
The rise in eCommerce also lowered regional boundaries and opened up (literally) a whole world of global sourcing options. The subsequent explosion in Social Media totally redefined the business landscape. Suddenly, potential customers had access to a plethora of real-user reviews of products and services, were able to directly question other users about real-world use. The ‘Thumbs Up’, ‘Follows’ and ‘Likes’ suddenly became very real currency and a crucial part of Brand equity. Suddenly (and it felt like almost overnight), the Customer Experience was the major, crucial point of differentiation and giving the customer great experiences became the number one strategic objective of all manufacturers and service providers.
And then, along came Covid-19.
It is an obvious thing to say but the pandemic changed the world. Many people died and many businesses also perished. From a commercial perspective, the pandemic could have made business easier as the elimination of many companies will have thinned the competitive field, however, it also compelled customers to shop and do business remotely online, where the ‘flattening’ effects of price-comparison and auto switch websites are at their greatest. Suddenly, customers en-masse were routinely comparing one product or service versus another, largely on the basis of price alone since less tangible points of differentiation are harder to demonstrate via a website. Only the customer Experience remained as users posted reviews and these reviews, likes, follows and answered questions gained more traction than ever before.
Post-pandemic and the world is still not back to ‘normal’. The much talked about ‘new normal’ gives a power to customer reviews that is unprecedented. The Customer experience truly is everything now.