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Customer Empathy: Four Data Points for Understanding How the Pandemic Has Impacted the Customer Experience (CX)


The pandemic has impacted the customer experience in countless ways. Many everyday experiences that used to be physical (think dining out, buying groceries, or going to the doctor) have become partially—or completely—digital. Companies operating from a place of empathy for their customers created exceptional digital experiences during the pandemic that will no doubt continue to provide value in a post-pandemic world. 

The data points below can help companies gain a better understanding of how the pandemic has affected CX, and what they can do to meet and exceed customer expectations now and in the future. 

Data Point No. 1: Feedback has gone remote, and there’s no going back

Prior to the pandemic, most companies relied on a mix of both in-person and remote methods to gather customer feedback and conduct research. 

Naturally, in the wake of the pandemic, most feedback and research have since been gathered remotely. However, according to a recent study, this change may be here to stay. Many CX teams expect remote methods to not only remain, but overtake in-person methods even when meeting face-to-face is safe again.

This is a great thing for customer-centric teams, who have learned that empathy can be achieved remotely, and taking a remote-first approach to customer and user feedback is a powerful strategy that promotes a customer-centric culture.

Data Point No. 2: The time for digital transformation is now

The pandemic has accelerated most companies’ digital transformation efforts. In 2019, only 56 percent of businesses noted they were either in progress or had completed their digital transformation, compared to a whopping 71 percent in 2020. 

The pandemic served as a powerful incentive for CX teams to dedicate more time and resources to digital transformation in an effort to improve the customer experience. Digital transformation initiatives that were on the roadmap years into the future were suddenly thrown into the spotlight as teams pivoted to find ways to connect with their customers through more digital channels.

Data Point No. 3: Companies are doubling down on CX

One side effect of the pandemic is that it stripped CX teams of the luxury of analysis paralysis. As companies shifted their priorities to meet the needs of customers in a completely new environment, anything that didn’t directly impact CX or the bottom line instantly became a lower priority. 

This helped teams to cut through the noise and step up their CX game. Although many customer experiences have changed, consumer expectations remain at an all time high. It’s for this reason that 72 percent of companies plan to increase the frequency of their customer feedback and research to meet changing customer needs in 2021, and beyond. 

Data Point No. 4: CX teams need to get resourceful 

Nearly 70 percent of companies report that either their spending or workforce was reduced as a result of the pandemic. Adding to this challenge, over half (53 percent) noted that their workload had increased since the start of the pandemic. Today’s CX teams have to do more with less.

Leading CX teams are working harder than ever to meet their customers where they’re at. Lack of time and resources, or increased demand and workload can’t get in the way of creating an amazing customer experience. Now more than ever, CX teams must work smarter and more efficiently to stay competitive and continue to exceed customer expectations. 

The pandemic has accelerated changes within the industry that were already underway, pushing customer-centric cultures and strategies into the forefront, no longer as options, but as a necessary means of survival for every company.

Janelle Estes is Chief Insights Officer at UserTesting, an on-demand human insight platform.

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