Pandemic-Tested Customer Experience Success


11/17/20 | Customer Experience


Pandemic-Tested Customer Experience Success

Guest Post from Joseph Michelli

First, thank you Chip for allowing me to offer this guest blog. Chip is one of the most talented and seasoned customer experience professionals globally, and I am grateful for his colleagueship and support.

Most business owners and leaders want to provide experiences that drive customer engagement, loyalty, and referrals. However, designing and consistently delivering experiences that emotionally resonate with customers is daunting in the best of times, let alone in a pandemic! Sadly, many companies haven’t effectively found ways to adjust their customer experiences to meet the challenges of COVID-19.

Qualtrics, one of the world’s leading customer experience assessment companies, recently published a blog post with a rather daunting title: Net Promoter Score Collapses During Pandemic. As you likely know, the Net Promoter Score® or NPS® is a metric that predicts customer loyalty, repurchase intent, and future customer spend.

Suffice it to say that Qualtrics’ XM Institute found a precipitous decline in customer engagement and loyalty (as reflected in the NPS®) when comparing results from 2019 to 2020. Specifically, the finding showed declines in all 20 industries that the Qualtrics XM Institute tracks, “Overall NPS dropped from 29.8 to 14.6. NPS dropped more than 30 points with the youngest age group…Credit cards, hotels, and rental cars declined the most (-28 points) and have the lowest NPS. Only four industries declined less than 10 points: TV/Internet service providers, wireless carriers, health insurance, and fast food.”

These findings are particularly important to consider as you deliver services and experiences to your customers. Despite efforts to help customers feel safe and valued during the pandemic, customers aren’t feeling the love.

Shortly after COVID-19 hit pandemic proportions, I reached out to CEOs like Brian Cornell of Target, Hans Vestberg of Verizon, Jeff Dailey of Farmers Insurance, and Michelle Gass of Kohls. These leaders and 140 others shared their insights on positioning their businesses to maintain customer engagement and loyalty throughout the pandemic. I share those insights in my upcoming book McGraw-Hill book titled Stronger Through Adversity.

Stronger Through Adversity: World-Class Leaders Share Pandemic-Tested Lessons on Thriving During the Toughest Challenges

Here are a few quick, high-level customer experience takeaways from the book:

1) Listen more to customers through formal listening tools (pulse surveys, focus groups) and informal means (call them, ask them to join you for a virtual coffee via zoom).

2) Focus on technology-aided customer service delivery (expedite e-commerce, curbside pickup, home delivery, and contactless payment but don’t forget to provide human service rich with empathy, compassion, and gratitude).

3) To the greatest degree possible, pivot your business to address the customer needs of today while also investing in solutions for tomorrow. Many leaders will develop tunnel vision during a crisis and fail to seize opportunities for sustainability. For example, if you are a restaurant owner, optimize curbside pickup as a temporary solution to COVID and also explore other “off-premise offerings” to meet consumer trends for convenience.

May you avoid the customer experience collapse reflected in the Qualtrics research and instead steward your business for success well beyond the pandemic. Should you be interested in exploring the insights and tools shared in Stronger Through Adversity, you can purchase it for a 40% pre-order discount here.


Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D., C.S.P., is an internationally sought-after speaker, author, and organizational consultant who transfers his knowledge of exceptional business practices in ways that develop joyful and productive workplaces with a focus on customer experience. His insights encourage leaders and frontline workers to grow and invest passionately in all aspects of their lives.