At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we published a lot of material around listening to your customers and finding effective ways to capture, analyze, and act on the voice of the customer (VOC). And we’ve seen many top brands fully embrace this strategy to help guide their coronavirus responses, pivot their product roadmap, and impact their customer communication.

But we’re now reaching a new phase in the pandemic where parts of the world are largely recovered, some are still in the thick of it, and others are walking the balancing beam between reopening and mitigating risk at the same time. It seems like all areas of the world are in different stages, so what worked at the beginning of this thing might not be as effective anymore.

Here are some questions you need to ask right now:

  • If you asked your customers what they needed back at the beginning of the pandemic, have you followed up with them and asked them if their needs have changed?
  • How has coronavirus impacted brand sentiment?
  • Are you collecting feedback from enough people or just a small handful of the most engaged?
  • Are you tracking shifts in sentiment over time?
  • Have you identified which customers have become more or less engaged during this time?
  • Are your customers happy with the new features or services you released in response to COVID-19? If so, do they want these changes to stay after we go back to “normal?”

Despite all of the changes in the world, one thing will always remain critically important: The voice of the customer. This is the key factor to understanding what your customers need now and what they’ll need in the future. If you can’t answer the questions we outlined above, you might need to take a step back and reassess your mobile customer experience strategy. VOC should be your North Star throughout our rapidly-changing society.

Here are some ways to more effectively harness the voice of the customer as the world continues to navigate through this challenging time.

  1. Listen. If you take anything away from this article, this is the point we want you to remember. Your customers want to be heard right now. They want to give you feedback. Set up channels so they can easily do this without friction.
  2. Take advantage of mobile channels. Your customers aren’t gone, they’re just interacting with your brand differently. Although some are starting to use physical touchpoints again such as kiosks, most commerce and communication takes place on mobile. If you were to lean into one channel during this time, mobile is it. It’s also just the easiest way to collect feedback from people. In-app surveys have higher response rates than email or phone surveys and ultimately provide deeper insights.
  3. Track changes over time. The world is changing so much every single day and so are your customers’ preferences, habits, and behaviors. How they feel one month about your brand might totally change the next month. Make sure you have the proper systems in place to track sentiment consistently over time and also be alerted when a customer shifts significantly so you can jump into action quickly before they’re gone forever.
  4. Back product decisions with data. The worst thing you can do is make product decisions without any customer feedback. It’s more important than ever right now to make data-backed decisions.
  5. Respond to negativity appropriately. Emotions are high right now. People are struggling professionally and personally. One misstep by your brand might result in a disproportionately negative reaction from a customer. Right now, it’s important to give unhappy customers the proper channels to express their concerns, air their grievances, and make requests for changes. Negative feedback doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad feedback. You can discover a lot of valuable insights from unhappy customers. You just need the right systems in place to collect and analyze it.
  6. Close the loop. Launch a new feature? Make big changes in your app? If you’re listening to your customers and making changes based on their feedback, letting them know will strengthen your customer relationships and improve retention significantly.

We’re living in unprecedented times trying to do what’s right for our consumers, brands, and world at large while we adjust to our “new normal.” By listening first, we’re more likely to get there. In fact, only by listening will we learn when people start to feel safe again.