As the pandemic slowly winds down, a significant amount has been written about the its impact on B2C and B2B customer buying habits and patterns. Increased social restrictions, unemployment, remote work, and limited access to products and services are among the economic and societal shifts that have had a drastic impact on customer aspirations and purchase behavior. What hasn't been covered as much is the impact the COVID-19 has had on operational and business practices of the companies that serve these customers.
These changes and shifts in customer attitudes and practices are necessitating that companies review and, in many cases, change fundamental business practices, missions, and values. Among the key consumer behavior trends being observed are:
- A greater preference for the use of digital tools and processes rather than face-to-face transactions
- An increased volume and frequency of online shopping
- A growing affinity for healthy brands and the integration of more health and safety in customers’ everyday lives
- An increased demand for product reliability
- A renewed focus on exhibiting price-conscious behavior
The COVID-19 pandemic delivered an indiscriminate impact to businesses from local restaurants to billion-dollar corporations, forcing changes in work processes amid strangling shutdown orders to help stem the tide of the virus. In a matter of weeks, these businesses were required to make massive organizational changes just to stay afloat.
A review of businesses who are adjusting to the new customer buying habits and practices revealed organizations who have used Big Data and analytics to fully understand emerging customer needs and how to leverage these behavior shifts have been able to reap the greatest company benefits.
Some examples of how companies are adjusting their business and operational practices to meet the changing customer needs include:
- Developing an increased focus on ensuring they're taking care of people, sustainability and social concerns
- Promoting overall greater transparency in everything they do
- Reconsidering globalization, leveraging how the pandemic has narrowed people’s focus around the world
- Enhancing and developing higher service levels
- Preparing for the future by reexamining their business continuity plans and entire business risk structure
- Building greater security and safety into their operations
There is little question that the pandemic has forced most businesses to navigate uncharted territory. As we continue to emerge from the crisis, keeping a pulse on the resulting changes in customer needs is mandatory. A dedicated program of continuously tracking consumer sentiment and the underlying factors that are influencing changing customer behavior will provide any business the opportunity to truly thrive in the post-pandemic world.