[Study] How the pandemic has changed customer experience in the US

September 15, 2021 | 3 minute read
Tamara Prewitt
Senior Director, Product Marketing, Oracle Marketing Solutions
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The pandemic changed us. On a human level, that’s something we innately know. But now, we have the data to prove it.

In May, Oracle released the results of a study showing just how much the pandemic has affected personal and consumer behavior in the US. Let’s examine the changing consumer trends and what you can do to adapt your customer experience (CX) for the world ahead.

We've drifted apart

Social distancing took a toll on romantic relationships, friendships, and families. According to the survey results, more than a quarter of Americans changed their relationship status. Of those, most broke up or divorced, and only 21% of those who ended relationships did so face-to-face. What’s more, 22% of people now feel less connected to family, 34% feel less connected to friends, and more than half reported making no new friends over the past year.

We’re spending more time on our interests—and growing because of it

Social isolation brought new meaning to the idea of “me time.” At-home activities like reading, streaming, and trying new hobbies spiked—and Americans feel smarter as a result. A full 70% say they’ve learned more during the pandemic, and that same percentage has adopted a “trendy” at-home hobby like baking or creating TikTok videos. Interestingly, while online shopping led 32% of consumers to acquire more things, nearly as many (30%) decreased their personal belongings.

We don’t miss everything about pre-pandemic life

Working from home has its challenges, but many Americans say they enjoy the new, more relaxed “office” culture. Comfort, rather than style, dominates Zoom call attire, and 43% of survey respondents don’t miss the daily commute. However, they do miss activities like restaurant dining, travel, and concerts. Nearly 100% of those surveyed are eager to enjoy at least one previously restricted activity once it’s safe.

But perhaps most surprisingly: This cruel experience has made us kinder

86% of consumers surveyed noted a fundamental change in their own personalities, with most reporting increased conscientiousness, agreeableness, and openness to new experiences. As the pandemic is a shared global experience unlike most in living memory, perhaps the feeling of being “in it together” makes us more considerate and accepting of others.

 

So, how can we use what we’ve learned about our customers—and ourselves—to deliver stronger customer experiences going forward?

1. Become a constant through change

Customers who’ve lost touch with loved ones or abandoned meaningful daily rituals may be eager for something valuable that they can count on. Reinforce your dedication to customers with a friendly outreach. Wondering where to start? The survey found that 54% of customer loyalty program members are worried their earned points will expire. Consider extending expiration dates and letting customers know you still value them—even if they’ve been away for a while.

2. Build on what’s been good in your pandemic customer experience

While customers are eager to get back out into the world, they’re not going to turn their backs on conveniences like food delivery, contactless payments, curbside pickup, and telehealth appointments. In fact, 40% plan to continue using those services moving forward. Don’t revert to the old way of doing things; evolve your customer experience to include the best of both worlds.

3. Be human with your customers

The pandemic cracked the shiny veneer that previously separated businesses and customers, in many cases replacing it with a (Zoom) window into a personal world. As employees themselves, many customers appreciated that, as they too understand the relief of balanced personal and professional priorities. Be real with your customers and build authentic relationships.

Our kinder, more understanding world is ready for it.

 

Give customers the experiences they crave and make every interaction matter by connecting all your business data across advertising, marketing, sales, commerce, and customer service. Oracle Advertising and CX offers a connected suite of applications to help you create, manage, serve, and nurture lasting customer relationships in the new normal.

Want to learn more? Visit us at oracle.com/cx or watch the short video below.

Tamara Prewitt

Senior Director, Product Marketing, Oracle Marketing Solutions

Tamara Prewitt has been in high-tech marketing for over 30 years from start-ups like Nielsen//NetRatings to agencies like Ogilvy and large enterprises like Adobe and, most recently, Oracle. She describes herself as a futurist due to her knack for reading data and spotting new trends. Publically recognized by Fortune Magazine as a Top 20 Big Data Analyst and DataIQ Magazine as a Top 100 Data Influencer, Tamara has been around the world many times talking on stage, to journalists, and with marketing professionals about excellence in customer experiences.


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