Frustrations are at an all-time high for most people, thanks to the global pandemic. Folks are being choosier about where and how they spend their money, and they also expect a better experience from the companies they frequent.
In a survey of over 5,800 small businesses, researchers found many were struggling to survive the precarious economy. Median companies had about $10,000 in monthly expenses and only two weeks of cash flow on hand. Continued shutdowns and consumers' social distancing harmed most nonessential companies.
To survive COVID-19 and grab consumers’ attention, companies must think about every aspect of their businesses. The customer experience can make the difference in keeping clients or losing them long term.
Here are some reasons UX design matters more right now, and ways you can improve what you’re already doing.
1. Keep up With the Competition
More people are online than ever before due to changes in the way people shop and local government mandates. You may have more competition than you’ve had in the past. No longer do people have to run to the local mom-and-pop shop. They are well aware they can buy almost anything on Amazon or via an e-commerce website.
If you don’t create an amazing UX experience for your customers, they may go elsewhere for their needs. Think about every aspect of the buying experience. Is your website easy to navigate? Does your shopping cart keep things simple?
2. Avoid Confusion
The world changed rapidly when COVID-19 hit the United States full force. Some people haven’t ventured out much, and when they do, there are procedures and policies they may feel uncertain about.
Make it simple for them to navigate your store and follow your policies by placing clear signage indicating where to go and what to do. You can use floor stickers to encourage social distancing of 6 feet or more. Put up signs explaining how to wear masks and what security measures you take to keep people safe.
3. Conduct User Research
Even after the pandemic is over, there will be lasting effects for years to come. People realize what is truly important now. They will be choosier about where they spend their money and time. Entertainment venues will need to understand what drives people to go out for a night at the theater or dine with friends.
Keep a pulse on what your target audience needs and wants. Do people prefer to have more carryout options, for example? Perhaps your customers are senior citizens and desire delivery services. Figure out what they want and immediately improve your customer experience (CX).
4. Remain Consistent
Your store layout and logo design should be predictable. In a world that has gone topsy-turvy, there is something comforting about traditions. Now is not the time to make big changes. If you’ve always laid your store out in a certain way, don’t rearrange everything.
Put yourself in the shoes of the customer who ventures out to grab a few quick items. They walk into your store, and what was in the front is now in the back, and vice versa. They may just leave in frustration and never return.
Consistent service, store layout and website design are all vital right now. They help improve the appearance of reliability and reassure people that some things haven’t changed.
5. Tap Into Emotions
One of the key factors in UX is how your customers feel after interacting with you. Emotions are at an all-time high. People are scared of the virus, angry that they are isolated or in denial that there is an issue.
Dig into the psychographics of your customers. What drives them? Their pain points may be different than before the pandemic, so if you need to redo your buyer personas, you should. Once you know the emotions they’re dealing with, you can address them and offer clear solutions.
6. Rethink Your Hours
People are living on more fluid schedules today. Many work from home or complete projects in different timeframes than when they were in an office setting. How does this impact things such as what hours you’re open?
Again, your decisions on what to offer your customer base must include knowing who they are and their personal habits. If most of your clients work remotely, you can keep to a normal schedule. On the other hand, if you serve essential workers who must be in place during daytime hours, offer an early or late shopping hour for them. Think about how to meet their needs and make their lives a little easier.
7. Care About Community
You’ve likely heard many companies say that we’re all in this together. It is somewhat true. The pandemic impacts everyone in various ways. We’ve all had to change our lives, wear masks, eat out less and give things up.
Think about how the situation impacts your customers in particular. Perhaps you live in a town where many have lost their jobs. How can you address the problem and show you care? Maybe you could hold a canned food drive for your local food bank.
You could also offer discounts, virtual events to entertain people and many other things that would do the community good. The more active and involved you are, the more likely people will frequent your store. You will also enhance their experience because they’ll know you give back whenever they shop there.
Human-Centered Design Always Works
Once the pandemic passes and life returns to some sort of normal, you should keep your new human-centered focus. Creating amazing UX and offering the best customer service around helps you stand out from the competition. Think about the big and small things you can do to keep customers happy. With a little effort, your establishment will grow and you’ll find success.