Digital PR

Reshaping Business Communication Strategies for The Post-Covid Landscape

By Rachel Bradbury

Rapid and major shifts in the economic and social landscape in the wake of Covid-19 are fundamentally changing the nature of interactions and relationships among enterprises and individuals. Business leaders, therefore, are now determining how enabling technologies can help their organisations thrive well past the immediate crisis. Rachel Bradbury, Head of CCB Client Relationship & Development at Paragon Customer, discusses the strategies driving effective recovery efforts.

Rarely has one single event had such a profound impact on the overall business landscape than the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. From the global economic hit of lockdown measures, to a shift towards much of the UK’s workforce operating remotely, as well as the prompt acceleration of digital transformation across numerous industries, the ‘new normal’ looks destined to be a much-changed environment than ever previously experienced.

For certain organisations in particular– especially those within the large financial services sector who have grown accustomed to face-to-face interactions for driving growth – this has marked a paradigm shift not only in the way they do business but also in the strategies they deploy to provide a memorable customer experience (CX).

Of course, with the return to business continuity likely to take different shapes and happening at differing speeds for individual industries, there is no single strategy which will deliver a silver bullet for attracting and retaining customers in the new market.

Longer-term transitions in consumer behaviour resultant from this crisis, for some, means digital channels will likely remain the key enabler for maintaining connections with consumers in a post-COVID-19 landscape. While for others it may result in the resurgence of more traditional marketing channels such as Direct Mail and print – channels deployed extensively by both the Government and the NHS, amongst others, who prioritised addressed mail for delivering critical communications to the general public during lockdown.

Although the full fallout of the current pandemic is yet to be determined, there are certainly ways that businesses can prepare themselves for what lies ahead. So how can brands adapt, pivot and change their strategies in order to prepare for a post-COVID-19 landscape?


Innovating legacy

The very fluid nature of the ongoing pandemic has presented myriad challenges for modern businesses, perhaps none more notable than the pace of change required to meet ever-evolving customer dynamics and behaviours. Enterprises once afforded the luxury of time to deploy significant changes across their business, have in recent times had to adapt, pivot and change strategies virtually instantaneously to adjust to market changes.

During this ‘age of uncertainty’, this necessity to rapidly deploy advanced technologies and new communication channels has only served to emphasise previously unrealised shortcomings in organisations’ legacy systems and internal structures. Many leading businesses have been confronted with the very disappointing conclusion that the convoluted IT frameworks and legacy systems they had in place were simply not adequate to deploy such rapid and widespread change across all of the communication channels.

What’s more, once changes were eventually deployed, many found that systems often failed to provide the adequate delivery infrastructure to support the heavily data-rich CX strategies and customer communications management (CCM) delivery models essential for modern omni-channel customer journeys.

The result was often siloed marketing channels and customer journey disconnect – with 58% of consumers claiming they feel like they’re communicating with separate departments and not one company across multiple touchpoints[1]. Given that some 70% of consumers say a company’s understanding of their individual needs influences their loyalty[2], the failure to understand customer behaviours and adapt strategies accordingly can have particularly damaging consequences.

A cohesive ecosystem

Acquiring a centralised view of all communication channels, be they digital or traditional, across the entire customer journey is often fundamental to gaining a controlled-perspective of omni-channel strategies. A single, consolidated system, underpinned by a cohesive eco-system of leading-edge technologies can provide the delivery infrastructure to support truly frictionless customer communications. While at the same time, it can also unify previously fragmented communications technologies across the breadth of any organisation.

Particularly critical in these times of crisis, where customer journeys have transformed virtually immediately, the resultant centralised view of how organisations communicate with their customers makes deploying changes across all channels much more frictionless.

As digitally-driven experiences and data have assumed even greater significance in modern CX strategies, having a unified view of existing customer data can present countless advantages. Not only can it lead to a critical understanding of customers’ unique behaviours, preferences and their stage in the customer journey, but also communication strategies that are engrained with customer-relevant messages and incisive targeting.

Of course, innovating legacy systems is just one aspect of effectively re-shaping communication strategies for the ‘new normal’.

Considering customer journeys

Equally as imperative for today’s brands, is having an in-depth understanding of consumers, their channel preferences and unique behaviours, and learning from the fundamental understandings that such insights can deliver. In an age where customer expectations continue to evolve, the ability to comprehend the most important channels for your consumers and evolve them to improve the overall CX can be critical to maintaining competitiveness in the ‘new normal’.

Unfortunately one of the major shortcomings of many organisations during the pandemic has been the failure to consider their own unique customer journeys. For many business leaders the focus has instead remained on targeting ‘quick fixes’ for improving customer-centric experiences, typically in the shape of delivering improvements across digital channels such as web, social and mobile.

By failing to consider their distinctive customer journeys, and adapting the channels that consumers engage with most often, business leaders run the very real risk of omitting critical customer engagement points from their overall communication strategies. This, in turn, can create customer journey disconnect by missing critical buyer engagement points.

Undoubtably the lack of suitable systems to implement business wide changes across all marketing channels has played a major role in such a ‘singular’ approach. Nonetheless, the neglect of traditional communication channels such as print, which may still have a fundamental role to play in customer journeys, also comes down to a failure to interpret key data and insights.

An experience partner

While being equipped with the most appropriate technologies and systems will position business leaders strongly for the post-Covid market, they must also be empowered with the knowledge to be the driving force behind their organisation’s transformation.

The positive news for today’s enterprises is the capabilities of an experienced customer communications partner can add significant value in every aspect of communications strategies from channel selection, to customer profiling, data analysis, campaign management and personalisation, plus much more.

Marketing expertise can also ensure the most valuable technologies and systems are implemented, enabling businesses to quickly, efficiently, and cost effectively, accommodate seamless shifts in business strategies to hone in on critical opportunities as client dynamics shift. This will ensure business leaders will be better positioned for when the market environment stabilises.

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