Chaired by Andy Brent, Moderator. The discussion brought together perspectives from; Meher Mumtaz, Head of Global Brand Operations for Western Union, Amit Sharma, Global Marketing Strategy Head & Lead for Americas & Europe Marketing for Tata Communications, Samantha Fay, SVP Global Brand Strategy at Guinness World Records and Simon Rider, Global Sales Enablement Director at JLL, working together to share their insights on ‘Customer Experience in a post-COVID world.’
This discussion talks a lot about the importance of emotional connection in our businesses and how we optimize that. In the context of the coronavirus pandemic and what that’s doing to our customers. Brent introduced the topic saying, “Academic work tells us that when these upheavals happen, it has fundamental changes about how people feel; about themselves, their lives, their families and the businesses they work with.” Brent continued, “The shifts that happen at this time are profound and lasting. For example, after the financial crisis of 2008, the way people felt about the ‘big banks’ changed forever. That bond of trust that had sustained them was broken and that opened the door for small challenges like Metro, Starling and First Direct.” Brent summarised, “So as emotions shift in this way, they have profound effects and as marketing professionals, we need to try to understand what those shifts are now and help businesses to adapt to them.”
“What are your views of the importance of emotional needs in their markets and how important those emotional connections are in the businesses they work in?”
“As a business it made us look outside of publishing.” Fay said. “At the end of the day, parents want their kids to read books and that emotional and physical drive made us look at our business.” Fay explained how this drive influenced Guinness World Records to make a shift to online in order to establish that emotional connection.
Mumtaz joined Fay agreeing that the impact of emotional importance was also very relevant to her customers at Western Union. Mumtaz went on to explain how money transfer is different from money banking. People are continually moving around and sending money back and forth and Western Union need to be there to serve customers who need to send money to another part of the world at this time, whether it’s to pay bills, gifting etc. A lot of emotional ground is covered to enable these transactions to continue during a pandemic. “This time has made us realise how important our service is to people and families, especially when they really can’t be there.” Mumtaz explained.
Brent asked, “A lot of those transfers were done physically in branches and now I assume, you are facilitating digital transfers?”
Mumtaz replied, “Yes and how we handle money is a very habitual thing, so cash pick-up is a method of how people get their money.” Western Union had to get organised very quickly and see where they could keep locations open to accommodate customer needs. Mumtaz added how the importance of communicating up to date information to customers was critical to making them aware of how they could send money or provide alternative methods for them to do so. Western Union has had to re-strategise tactics to grow their digital business at this time, to give customers options.
Brent continued, “When consumers see companies recognise them and their needs, these companies get big emotional rewards.” The panel agreed that being able to solve problems online is a way of building emotional bonds. Brent continued to ask,
“Is it not just about consumer emotions but your companies’ emotions too?”
Sharma said how they are united in shared conditions and emotions. “Emotion in business is the collective emotion of people running the business.” He went on the explain the 4 stages Tata Communications recognise of this emotional journey;
Sharma continued to explain that businesses need to understand where on this journey your customers are. This enables companies to offer the right help and deliver the right values. Sharma agreed with the other panellists that, “We are not immune to emotions.” He continued to add that there is no framework. It’s all reaction to the unknown and intuitively based on signals, so we have to keep those 4 stages in mind.
Brent suggested how companies need to recognise how important emotion is, in sales and marketing communications specifically. He asked, “How do we adapt to the new world that we are going into?”
Rider explained that from a Sales point of view, post-coronavirus will be different. Businesses will need to learn how to build emotional connections in a virtual world. Rider went on to detail how Sales were initially able to adapt by using their base of previous contacts, but have now recognised that they need to learn how to create new bonds to move forward; “We need to create a new set of skills online, especially being better listeners.” Rider discussed the importance of preparation, particularly for video calls from both sides of the market. He described how buyers will need to be more forthcoming and will need to record video calls and how salespeople will need to adapt and prepare better. Calls can take a lot longer than their allocated t