Everyone is talking about the ‘new normal’, but no one really knows how changes in customer behaviour will be transformed into new products, services and experiences, to achieve growth in business. Some companies have been proactive in recent months, learning about the changing needs of customers and responding with new product and service offerings.
COVID-19 has been a huge setback for many companies. Workshops have been cancelled or postponed indefinitely. Design Thinking and the Business Ecosystem, which were expected to be the lever for market growth, have been re-prioritized and put into waiting mode. A few companies have reacted differently and have used the lockdown period to investigate changes in customer behaviour and how this is affecting their needs. However, it is not too late for other firms to do the same. Wait-and-see has never been a good strategy, so it is important for firms to re-adjust projects that have already been started and adapt work on design to the new conditions and digital technology.
In post-COVID -19 times, customers will favour the digital services and products that have worked well for them during the lockdown period.
Design Thinking takes on a new importance at this point. Many assumptions from the past are becoming outdated. Many ideas that sound good in theory may not a fit with the new normal.
Re-designing working practises
It is not just customer behaviour and needs that are changing. Working practices will no longer be the same. Employees working from home during the lockdown have been expected to produce the same results as in the office. But it has been observed that when working remotely, individuals communicate much less about tasks than before the lockdown; for example about a third no longer communicate with others about progress on their projects. The assumption that everything can be done remotely in the future seems an illusion. Building systems for working from home (and protecting the health of employees) is therefore a challenge for the design team, particularly for interaction with current and potential clients and customers.
Predicting customer behaviour
Firms must respond to changes they see in customer behaviour. In the post-COVID-19 world what will be the purchasing behaviour of customers? Where will they find information about products and services? How will they pay for services? What will be their plans for major investments, such as the purchase of real estate, or even cars? How will customers interact with banks and financial institutions?
During the lockdown period, consumers have switched to various forms of online shopping: home delivery, click and collect, and even the use of collection points. There have been enforced changes to leisure activities, with shutdown of live concerts, theatre, cinemas and even museums. New digital channels, such as subscription channels, have become more popular and a switch back to live performances may be slow and limited unless a vaccine against COVID-19 becomes available to reduce the risk.
Financial services post-COVID-19
Banks have to respond to the new needs in all areas of life.
Consumers will avoid the use of cash, and will switch increasingly to contactless payment methods. Shopping will be done on online platforms that require integrated and simple payment solutions. Customers will be more willing to share their data if this results in added value for them.
The following principles are the new reality for financial services.
- Responding in time to changes in customer needs is imperative
- Access to services via digital channels is an essential requirement
- Mobile payment methods must be available
- Digital onboarding for all services becomes standard
- Virtual customer interaction is a necessary convenient option
- Open banking capabilities are needed to link into re-defined business ecosystems.
Changes in customer behaviour should be seen as an opportunity: the ‘new normal’ will not be the same as the old one, and we can expect major upheavals, leading to radical innovations, new market leaders, new business ecosystems, and cooperation by FS firms with companies outside the boundaries of the ‘old’ industry sector.