Customer experience

Customer-Centricity: Understanding the value of consumer well-being

Published July 22, 2021·Written by Halle Dang, Lucia Manetti

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The impact of COVID-19 left more than physical and social losses for many consumers, but also heavy psychological distress. Learn more about how brands should prioritize consumer well-being to become more customer-centric in the next phase of the economic recovery. 


2020 was just not “the year.” Let’s admit that.

COVID-19 left many consumers unemployed, homeschooled, and forced to work from home. On top of that, the pandemic left more than emotional, physical, and social distress but also psychological distress on many consumers, especially front-line employees who are an integral part of offering the best customer experience for your business.

They struggled more or less to do their job while crisis-related issues continuously grew. 

In this article, we briefly introduce important research presented by Forrester to help businesses better understand consumer well-being in the ever-changing market. Then, we explain three key ways for brands to prioritize customer well-being to truly become a more customer-centric company, especially as society progress onto the next phase of the pandemic.

Understanding Current Consumer Well-Being: Forrester’s Consumer Risk Perception Diagram

According to Forrester Research, they attempted to better understand the impact of COVID-19 on consumers by developing a simple customer segmentation diagram. The visual below shows the grid where different consumer groups are compared against each other. It also measures their reactions to pandemic-related healthcare and financial challenges they faced (and probably still are).

Furthermore, each group differs by sentimental profiles. If you analyze each buyer persona deeper, you can infer a lot about their attitudes and behaviors and even attempt to predict their future behaviors. However, it’s recommended not to make quick judgments based on the customer’s degree of risk perception. Strained and Cocooned shoppers are the most sensitive or easier to target (when they necessarily don’t have to be). 

Source: Forrester Research Customer Segmentation: Consumer Risk Perception framework

An example of two groups contrasting one another are Strained and Poised consumers:

Strained consumers

People mainly worry and are scared about the protection of their physical and financial self. They have a very low to non-existent interest in taking risks when it comes to going back to what they were doing pre-pandemic.

Strained shoppers are also anxious about the companies’ failure to protect employees and enforce adequate safety measures to prevent future outbreaks. 

Poised consumers

People who are mainly stressed because they cannot do much of anything, compared to pre-pandemic. Although, compared to Strained customers, Poised customers are less threatened by the pandemic situation and are more likely receptive to returning to “normal” again. They’re more or less excited and optimistic about the economy bouncing back on its feet, including the social and cultural aspects.

Yet, Poised shoppers are more sensitive to ‘extended’ safety measures, especially if it limits them even more to do ‘normal’ activities, such as office commute and public dining. 

With the Consumer Risk Perception framework, brands can have a clearer idea of the current situation related to consumer well-being and realize a need to prioritize strategies around their customers ‘ well-being to build loyalty. Businesses then can target the most ‘vulnerable’ in an ethical approach to delivering the best customer experience.

3 Key Ways to Prioritize Consumer Well-Being to Become More Customer-Centric

As we steadily rise from the ashes as a society and move forward onto the next stage of the pandemic, customer experience leaders will need to rearrange their company priorities and adapt accordingly. Just as the Forrester Research shows, along with numerous other studies, businesses must consider people’s psychological and emotional distress, not just economic, physical, and social – to become truly “customer-centric.” 

Here are three main vital methods for CX professionals to consider implementing strategies in 2021, moving forward: 

Consumer Well-Being: Leverage Emotion Analytics 

It used to the case that businesses were being more self-centric, let’s say, by considering the customer’s perspective less and more of what the company needs.

However, in these times, the customer is now king. Although manmade technologies couldn’t prepare us well for a natural disaster as a pandemic, they can still do one thing – understand customer sentiment. Emerging artificial intelligence tech has led to emotion analytics being the relatively new way to analyze the emotional drivers behind consumer purchases or behaviors.

By digging deeper into the “why” of customers’ decisions, companies will truly relate to the very people on the other side of the window.

At least to say, it’s not just about what customers need but what, how, and why they feel to better your products and services.

Be verbally expressive using empathy

Beyond studying customer sentiment, there’s also the act of delivering empathy by brands to customers to make a company more customer-centric truly.

For instance, a customer service team at a student loan service provider should be better prepared to respond with understanding and ease when an expected spike in graduates comes to ask to defer their loan payments as a result of pandemic-inflicted job losses. The company should collect customer feedback on how students and graduates feel post-pandemic and surveying their needs, preferences, and interests related to challenges faced during COVID-19.

Based on data, the loan provider should prioritize their customer well-being by offering more flexibility in payment options and developing alternative deferment plans. In turn, customers can recognize what a firm is trying to do, thus likely encouraging them to remain with the service provider for any future loan needs.

Act accordingly based on different consumer group needs

Your team can build a better customer journey from the Forrester diagram by knowing what each group needs. For instance:

  • Poised: These customers, as previously mentioned, want to somehow still engage in ‘normal’ activities without being limited to do so. Businesses can still adapt current government measures to these customers’ wants by ensuring social distancing at public events, distancing seatings or tables, regularly cleaning stores, setting a limit capacity on the amount of visitors, to name a few.
  • Cocooned: With empowering Cocooned customers, you’d want to reassure them your business is complying with health safety standards and sanitation policies to deliver on the most optimal customer experience. For instance, send them a mass email or notice about the company’s thoughts addressing the current situation and explaining new policies in place (while thanking them for their understanding). Essentially, you’d want to build their trust.
  • Thrifty: As the more frugal group, these customers are more sensitive to price. Brands should refocus marketing efforts on products and services that aim to sell experiences and value to customers to help them overcome financial insecurities. Promote the long-term benefits of your products and services to help them make worthwhile investments.

Wonderflow Empowers Your Business to Become More Customer-Centric 

As an advanced customer feedback analytics software, Wonderflow puts the “city” in “customer-centricity.” The powerful AI-based unified tool helps companies make better inferences about what customers are really saying or thinking regarding their products and services.

It detects specific vital phrases in the dozens of online customer reviews to suggest product improvements. All the customer feedback data is presented in a clean-cut user dashboard for every internal member to access and use easily.

Based on the prioritization of the Voice of the Customer analytics, brands are really constructing their business model around the customer’s opinions.

Learn more by booking a free demo with us. 

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