4 Ways VoC Can Help You Reopen and Gauge Customer Confidence

open sign on a shop window

Many economies globally are slowly reopening after having been thrown into a sudden and unexpected standstill. However, brands and customers are still far from feeling back to the normal of pre-pandemic days. Rebuilding customer trust will continue to be a challenge for brands.

McKinsey & Company reported in mid-July 2020 that 70% of consumers were not ready to return to their regular “out-of-home” activities. That includes going out to restaurants (dining in), family entertainment, and working out at the gym, among others. Many factors can impact customer trust, sentiment, and confidence levels during these unique times.

As of mid-July 2020, 70% of consumers were not ready to return to their regular “out-of-home” activities – McKinsey & Company

As brands reopen across different regions, preparing a safe and healthy environment for customers is a top priority. During this time, tracking and trending customer needs, concerns, and pressures will be essential to offer this environment.

At the same time, understanding current customer behavior and how it will change in the coming months is key to drive critical operational decisions during these unique times.

  • What new behaviors have taken hold in recent months?
  • How do customers intend to interact with your brand for the foreseeable future?
  • When do customers plan to return to one of your locations?

Collecting the Voice of the Customer (VoC) is critical to gaining these insights, helping you measure and trend customer confidence with your brand during this time.

Here are four ways VoC can help drive key operational decisions as economies reopen.

Know what concerns weigh on your customers’ minds today

Recent events and restrictions have impacted how most of us approach day-to-day tasks.

Consumer behavior has shifted online. Plus, according to June-July 2020 research from GlobalWebIndex, many consumers plan to go out less to restaurants (40%), movie theatres (32%) or bars and pubs (26%) post-pandemic. Time will tell how new behaviors and customer sentiment will change following the COVID pandemic.

These extraordinary times bring about different concerns for different customers. Not to mention, customer sentiment can vary from region to region. As the economy reopens, many customers will remain hesitant to go to their favorite establishments right away. That is even if brands put in place all the safety precautions recommended by local and federal authorities.

Collecting the voice of the customer is key to understanding their sentiment and concerns about returning to your physical locations. Getting these insights before, during, and after reopening can also help evaluate how your customer trust and confidence levels change over time and the impact of your efforts on it.

Also, it can help gauge how customer concerns vary on a regional basis and inform your local reopening plans.

Determine when your customers plan to visit your locations again

With physical locations reopening, brands must assign the right resources to deliver positive experiences and continue to build customer trust. To name a few:

  • Staff
  • Stock, such as food in the case of restaurants
  • Cleanliness
  • Enforcing the necessary safety and social distancing measures

Pre-pandemic, brands could predict, within a reasonable degree, how many resources they needed any given day and time (barring any sudden rushes). However, these unique times make it difficult to know how many customers will frequent the location at any time. Let alone, ensure the right resources are in place to manage this foot traffic without running short (food shortage, short-staffed, etc.) or overspending (spoilage, overstaffing, etc.).

Proactively asking customers when they intend to come back to your physical locations can help provide the insights needed to allocate these resources. If they plan to go back in the short-term, when do they plan to do so? If not, why not?

Being upfront with customers about these topics can provide invaluable insights to guide critical operational decisions, especially in the early days of reopening.

Trend how customer preferences change over the coming months

Customer needs, perceptions, and confidence will change over time. Their behavior will change, too.

Let’s consider restaurants. Many will need to adjust operations as some customers slowly transition back to dining (vs. ordering out), either as a result of what your brand is doing or due to external factors (e.g., easing of restrictions, the introduction of a vaccine).

Listening to your customers in the early days of reopening is critical to understanding their current preferences based on the current climate, and their impact on how they intend to interact with your brand over the coming weeks and months. Continuously listening to them, understanding how their concerns and sentiment shift over time, will help you keep your finger on the pulse of what your customers need and expect over the coming months.

Prompting your customers for their feedback also provides them an easy way to share their thoughts, concerns, and praise directly with your brand. Keeping this dialogue open can help instill trust in your brand and shows that your brand cares, and is genuinely trying to provide an environment where they feel comfortable.

Understand customer perceptions about their visit to your location post-reopening

It’s one thing to hear about the measures your brand is taking for when you reopen. It’s quite another to experience it in person.

For those customers who choose to return to your physical location after you reopen:

  • Did they feel that your brand is doing enough?
  • Where do they think you are excelling?
  • What can you do to offer an even more positive in-person experience?

Collecting customer feedback post-experience is essential to obtain these insights. Plus, this feedback is coming from those who experienced your reopening efforts first-hand.

Monitoring the voice of your customers post-experience provides the ability to optimize your day-to-day operations and procedures. It also helps to identify opportunities to tweak and optimize your in-person experience so you can provide a safe and healthy experience in the eyes of your customers.

Finding the right solution to measure customer trust and confidence

These are difficult and uncertain times for many brands. Listening to your customers and has never been more important, and is critical to a successful reopening strategy. It gives you a glimpse into their minds during these unique times, so you can better understand:

  • Their needs and expectations
  • Their concerns and preferences for how they want to interact with your brand
  • When they intend to come back to your physical locations

Especially, collecting the Voice of the Customer can help you understand their confidence level during these unique times, and how you can potentially boost it for when they choose to come back to your locations.

To gain these insights, you need the tools to be able to:

  • Easily engage your customers for their feedback
  • Segment and compare customer sentiment and feedback by region and in aggregate
  • Quickly get the right insights into the right hands at the right time

These are insights and tools that Astute can provide brands as part of our Customer Confidence solution. We recognize the value that VoC can provide to help bring these insights to light, and the role it can play in driving key operational decisions that will impact the in-person customer experience.

Learn more about Astute’s Customer Confidence solution.


This article was published with contributions from Kathleen Browne, CX Analytics Manager at Astute.