Customer Experience Stages that businesses need to adapt to for survival

4 Customer Experience Stages companies need to adapt for survival post COVID

The 4 Customer Experience Stages companies must quickly overhaul for survival 

There are still far too many companies treating this pandemic as something that will be over soon, with normality returning.

Who knows who much longer this will go on for…

I suspect longer than most think, but ‘normality’ will never be the same again.

As Darwin said so well, the survival of the fittest is for those that adapt best to change, not the strongest beforehand.

Our environments have changed beyond anything we could have imagined 6 months ago, but there are still too many companies not adapting to survive, particularly with the experiences they are providing to their customers in this ‘new world’.

What this pandemic has done is change our customer experience expectations for good, even if Covid-19 does eventually disappear.

Of course, as customers, we now want more remote digital transactions, slick, personalised, easy.

However, we now expect our physical services to be just as slick as our digital ones.

I describe below 4 omnichannel customer experience stages that companies need to adapt to, if they want to survive.

it is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change


4 Omnichannel Customer Experience Stages to Focus on for Survival


It is now our expectation to know when a delivery, engineer, collection, etc is coming (with a maximum of a 1-hour window).

We want to track these physical activities in real-time on our digital devices all the way to our door.

Of most importance to us as customers is trust, even with Tracking sometimes the information shown, does not reflect reality.

If things need to change, tell us, don’t lie to us.

Let us down once, the trust is gone, and likely future business.

Delivery Tracking to our doors

Also, very importantly, we want any personal instructions we may have left with the Retailer or Delivery company to be fully recognised by the employee in the field.

So if we’ve asked ‘to be called on our mobile phones when the driver is 5 minutes away’, make sure that happens.

If we learn to trust your delivery experiences, we will even be prepared to pay a premium for that.


It is now our expectation that our ‘click and collect’ experiences are easy, personalised and stress-free.

The Click and Collect Experiences I’m currently seeing are still pretty much haphazard.

Customers arriving with a digital time, that the store have no awareness of, long socially distanced queues outside of stores etc.

Companies need to be so much slicker with the collection solutions they provide to customers.

We should probably never actually have to walk into a store or restaurant to collect anything.

There needs to be ‘new world’ thinking and investment in ‘Smart locker pick-up’ style solutions.

If we’re collecting food then the restaurants should track our arrival times, in the same way we are expected to track their deliveries.

The survey below is 3 years out of date, so we can be sure our collection expectations have ramped up so much higher now. “32% of online shoppers say they endured long queues” with their collection experiences.

This will not be tolerated in this ‘new world’.

Click and Collect Survey Results


We really want it to be so much easier to get in touch if we have a question, issue, request, or complaint.

Customers accept, and are actually delighted to use well designed digital platforms, but far too often we are unable to get any sort of quality help through these digital platforms.

This needs to change.

Far too often when we need help, to ask a question, or even complain, we are treated like an annoyance.

Our Digital Help and Support experiences are often deliberately designed to make it almost impossible to find out how to get in touch.

If we do eventually find an option, it will not be easy from there.

We will either sit in a lengthy call centre or web-chat queue, or forced to send an email, after which we just have to hope and wait.

In-App Support

It absolutely needs to be as easy to get in touch through a digital interface, as it is to place an order.

And if we want to make a phone call through a digital app (even though most of us prefer digital help) let us.

We will only call if it’s urgent or important to us.

Example of in-app support
An example of in-app support

But companies must make sure all of that rich data about us, our order, our history are all pushed through for our call interactions as well as our digital ones – currently they rarely are.

Seriously, how can companies think it’s better for their customer loyalty to make it so tough for customers with issues, queries or complaints to get in touch?

Another example of short term thinking.

There are no examples in which making it easy for your customers to talk to you is worse for your business performance.


The final customer experience stage companies need to focus on is customer feedback.

We want it to be easy to provide feedback, whenever we want, for our own benefit, not the companies.

Do you know what?

If we’re happy we will stay loyal, we should not be pushed (quite often aggressively) to provide positive feedback.

It can actually even damage a previously positive impression.

To be honest we should only have to tell you how we feel when we are not particularly happy about something, not when things go well.

If we’re happy, your reward will be our continued custom, and brand advocacy even if we don’t complete a survey.

Don’t push us to be NPS Promoters, just recognise our loyalty.

The statistics below say it all really:

67% of customers leave because of a bad experience.

However, 88% of customers are influenced by negative online reviews, with 82% of them specifically seeking out poor customer comments.

All about trust again.

One of the critical Customer Experience Stages is reducing the impact of bad feedback

The power of negative feedback

There is so much bad feedback on review sites, I think companies should focus instead on responding quickly and effectively to every one of these, resolving individual issues, fixing the root causes.

Not patting themselves on the back with misleading positive NPS scores, because most unhappy customers simply can’t be bothered to respond, they just walk.

There are so many unanswered or poorly ‘responded to’ negative feedback comments that do so much damage to companies and brands.

And when we do see online review replies, how often do we see customers listing some horrific detailed stories, only to see a generic copied and pasted corporate reply, either saying ‘sorry you were unhappy with xxxx’ or worse ‘please email us at‘.

3 Key Areas to Focus on for Survival in the new world

So, in summary, to adapt and survive in this ‘new world’, companies absolutely do need to ‘put their customers at the heart of everything’, which far too many say, but so few do.

There are just 3 areas to focus on, which in my experience not one single company does well at the moment.

1 – Join our physical customer experiences with our digital ones.

Real omnichannel, not pretend.

Think always about the individual customer’s preferences, requirements, unique needs.

Keep your commitments, and be transparent if they cannot be kept.

2 – Make it so incredibly easy for customers to talk to you, through the channel they want, and at the time they want.

Don’t hide ‘Help, Support, Contact’ behind a labyrinth of cul-de-sacs.

Make it upfront and centre.

Customers will appreciate that so much.

3 – Finally, stop chasing positive NPS

Instead, actually focus on any customer that expresses dissatisfaction by a survey, social media, review sites, complaints, anywhere.

Make that your company’s purpose to respond to, and at least attempt to resolve every customer’s issue.

If anyone can tell me of any one company that does all of the above, I would be intrigued, but also highly surprised…

Yes, Amazon maybe, but still not quite perfect yet…

Thanks for reading.

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About Alex Mead 1 Article
Customer Service Experience Director - Leading digital contact centre transformation, customer service innovation, customer experience strategy & improvement.

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