Across the country, we’re following convoluted pathways out of—and then back into—the COVID-19 lockdowns. On top of the months of quarantine, protests against police brutality and racial injustice are taking place in every single state across the nation. And the economy continues to flirt with taking a massive downturn.
With a vaccine still a long way off and social distancing the way we live now, it is still difficult to envision how this and future recovery phases of the pandemic will fully unfold for businesses and their customers. What we do know is that with all this upheaval, there is no single, one-size-fits-all answer.
Different attitudes to a radically different environment
Just as each of the 50 states have different approaches for reopening the U.S., individuals will also have different responses toward the recovery. Those responses are based on their own unique attitudes and emotions, which may have been exacerbated by the coronavirus crisis.
Do they want to plunge back in? Do they want to go slow and cautiously? Research from Ipsos shows there is a continuum of responses when it comes to the way people feel and the actions they will take as a result of the phase of the coronavirus in their home area.
Some individuals will be motivated to dive into a re-opening head-first. They may be driven by financial necessity, or the need to achieve, and other factors such as Zoom fatigue or confinement exhaustion.
Others, concerned with unseen dangers and the lack of a widely available vaccine – or without childcare or with the ability to work from home and not needing to interact with a wide population, will wade back into broad interactions inch-by-inch.
And others will fall somewhere in between.
Nimble businesses meet customers where they are
The most responsive companies understand this variability in their customers’ attitudes and behaviors. They also know the implications for their solutions, customer experience, and marketing.
Many experienced changes at the outset of the pandemic and adapted right away:
- Telehealth and virtual care, for example, saw dramatic shifts before and after COVID-19. People are now much more willing to have a virtual doctor’s visit, and many health practitioners adapted quickly to integrate those capabilities into their offerings.
- Online grocery shopping and delivery saw a dramatic acceleration in adoption, even though it has been around for a long time. Even smaller grocery stores began providing online shopping capabilities.
- And many local small businesses and restaurants around the country tried various strategies such as give-aways, gift-certificates, and curbside take-out to keep their customers engaged during the lock-down and re-opening.
Other industries, such as commercial real estate, will continue to face challenges the longer the pandemic continues, with a much greater number of people working from home than previously anticipated, and increased health and safety protocols expected from those who are making their way back to the office.
This requires multiple content streams—not just one
Put all of this together and the result is that firms will need to develop multiple content streams to address the journeys that represent their different customers’ attitudes and emotions.
Going back to the Ipsos model, after the initial re-opening phase (Anticipation), there will still be several more phases of this pandemic to contend with, and a varied range of responses for each.
Businesses need to develop content for the next phases of recovery before they arrive
The time to create content streams that will support your customer segments in the next phase of the pandemic is already here. This isn’t the end of COVID-19 challenges. It isn’t even the beginning of the end. Signs point to a complex recovery until this virus is contained. Your customers are going to need you at every stage—be ready for them.