By Serena Gonsalves, Digital Customer Experience Manager – Performance Coatings at Jotun A/S

Serena Gonsalves, Digital Customer Experience Manager – Performance Coatings at Jotun A/S

A couple in Taiwan, aged 83 and 84, owns a laundry shop and since the COVID-19 virus struck had little or no work at all, until their grandson asked them to get on Instagram. The couple took to Instagram by storm as they came up with an ingenious idea to model the abandoned and forgotten clothes of their clients. This amazing story illustrates that there is always light at the end of the tunnel, its not all doom and gloom. Persist, Pivot and Transform.

While there is no playbook to navigating this pandemic crisis and the business resiliency plans of most organizations fell short to account for a crisis such as the current one. 

One thing is for certain that the current crisis requires organizations to dig deeper to connect with their customers and employees by being authentic, creative, relevant, purposeful, and meaningful. 


Companies that don’t break the inter departmental silos and lack coordination with functions that manage other touch points in the customer journey, will lose out.

Cross-functional collaboration must be a strict mandate. Going forward, those companies that want to survive the crisis will need to foster collaboration as this would become a new standard as every company realizes the need to transform.

The last couple of months have been truly transformative with new consumer trends and behaviors. We have all been learning, working, entertaining, procuring things and connecting with our loved ones very differently during this pandemic. A few trends we are seeing develop that would be crucial to understand going forward into the new normal and beyond:

New “Distanced Experience” Economy

There has never been a better time for brands to charm consumers with some ingenuity and a reimagining of brand experiences. Just because we’re being asked to stay six feet apart doesn’t mean brand experiences have to stop. We just need to rethink them. A great example is at Whole Foods, shoppers texted when they were on their way to collect groceries and could pull into designated parking spaces, drastically cutting down on wait times and impressing shoppers with a feeling of priority.

We are seeing Direct to Customer (D2C) with brands reaching their customers directly and not through any middlemen with their own apps, websites and other social channels.

Rethinking of the physical retail store

Brands have been moving online to engage consumers, but with stores reopening, retailers will have to reimagine experiential spaces and a way to limit high-touch services. The new imperatives include safety first, fulfilling online orders ahead of consumer-facing sales, offering touchless experiences.

During COVID-19, consumers worldwide have turned to curbside pickup or Buying Online and Pick up In Store (BOPIS) as a matter of safety and necessity, collecting online purchases without leaving their cars from stores including Prada, Gucci, Walmart and Target.

Rise of the Contactless Revolution – Low touch economy

People are thinking twice about what they touch. For many retailers, this would mean creating a seamless e-commerce experience, enabling customers to complete everything they need to do online, from initial research and purchase to service and returns. We are seeing a ‘contactless’ revolution – Rise of biometric wallets and new forms of contactless money and contactless e-commerce fulfillment. Companies like Uber Eats, Grab Door Dash, all have adapted with new features in the apps for their users with “leave the order at my door” option. There have even been deliveries by self driving cars and autonomous vehicles.

The New Health Paradigm

For industries such as airlines, ensuring health and safety will be essential, for example, by reinventing the passenger experience with “contactless” check-in, boarding, and in-flight experiences. Emirates Airline became the first airline in the world to conduct rapid COVID-19 testing with getting results in 10 minutes not days before boarding passengers on the aircraft. Hilton is working with RB’s Lysol and Mayo Clinic’s Infection Prevention and Control teams to redefine cleanliness at its hotels ramping up their hygiene practices right from the check-in to check-out as part of its Hilton CleanStay initiative planned for rollout in June 2020.

Digital CX is the way forward

The coronavirus is making many brick-and-mortar businesses into online business almost overnight illustrating the importance of pivoting the business model, product rethink and transforming digital presence and experiences.

Airbnb, one of the worst affected digital disruptor, losing 1/3rd of its value due to the pandemic architected a brilliant pivot on a massive scale by launching interactive online experiences where hosts can virtually host their guests which includes baking classes to tango concerts even creative drawing. The entire rethink took less than 3 weeks to conceive the idea, design, test and scale in 60 languages according to the Chief Design Officer, Alex Schleifer.

Where do we go from here? We need to reimagine CX mandate

It’s a time to rethink the entire customer journey, revisiting the value propositions, customer jobs to be done etc. Organizations need to go back to the drawing board and reboot their CX mandate. Leadership has to inspire organizations by revisiting the purpose of the existence of the company. Human centeredness & Empathy needs to be at the core with shared vision and values. Encourage Co-creation, using collective intelligence to bring internal alignment and changes. Think Holistic, connecting all the dots of the entire ecosystem not just looking at the organizational capabilities but also its vendors and outside world. Be Agile & Iterative, moving the company to observe, reflect & make, in a constant loop, adding value by working in sprints, utilizing feedback at every stage of the CX journey.

It requires complete rethink and reimagined CX transformation of the entire E2E journey. Shared vision and alignment are the key to successful transformation.

Organizations that can get the human experience (employee EX + customer CX) right, by strategically incorporating it into every facet and stage of the experience and processes will keep adding value to customer’s lives. They will solve for the unmet user need to be fully empowered to innovate, collaborate and generate sustained value.

Current times are a catalyst to creating & designing people-focused innovations that seek to make our experiences across various aspects of life better, helping companies pivot their businesses and the experiences they offer with ‘purpose’ being the cornerstone of making the world better.

Imagination, purposeful leadership and agile execution will be crucial to navigate the post-COVID-19 digitally transformed environment.