Today, customers have the power to make or mar a brand.

And, who gave them this power?

We did.

The internet did.

Hence, it is no surprise that customer experience ranks high on the priority list of every business. Add to it the raging COVID-19 pandemic, which has stunned lives and livelihoods around the globe. For susceptible people and the customer teams that serve them, it has also forced a reimagining of what customer care means in the New Normal.

In times of crisis, customers’ communication with a company can activate an instantaneous and enduring effect on their sense of trust and loyalty. As masses are furloughed and retreat into seclusion, a primary gauge of their customer experience will be how the businesses they deal with and depend on deliver experiences and service that meets their new needs, that too, most humanely.

It is now that business leaders need to position themselves at the forefront of the long-term shifts in consumer behaviour that result from this crisis. Customer relationship, in essence, is about strategies and process for acquiring and retaining customers to create superior value for both – the business and the customer.  Post-COVID, organisations have to re-think and re-design their strategy for most of their activities to serve the same set of customers with empathy, care and concern to bring trust and loyalty for continued business while fewer people are available to serve them.

Keeping a real-time tab on shifting customer penchants while swiftly innovating to reshape journeys that matter to the customers will be key. A “less touch” strategy, which is working well in e-com for deliveries, digital customer’s journey, data-driven actions and social media connections from learning to problem-solving would be the way to future.

Better customer treatment begins from home and at Pay Nearby, the first set of rules were created in line with care and concern for all colleagues. With the onset of lockdown, all of us at Pay Nearby started working from home. Online meetings, reviews and digital adoption for us were more important to experience to be able to create a set of rules for customers translating into superior experiences.

When the crisis struck, our first question, wasn’t “How can we seize market share?” or “How do we propel our top line to counter the economic massacre?” We were more concerned with “What can we do to support our retailers and customers right now in a meaningful, human, and relevant way?” And, in a business model like ours, which caters to the underbanked and underinsured strata, it was critical. In times of crisis, customers want to be understood, and they are very perceptive to tone and intention.

All relations have an emotional constituent – and that holds true for the relationship between people and brands.  At Pay Nearby, we genuinely believe that reaching out to retailers, not just for sales but to support them with their needs in the current situation, will delight them more as challenges are different – use of product, training, new products and methods that help them survive will make a lasting impact in their future behaviour towards the organisation.

Many of our customers are migrant workers who lost their jobs amidst the pandemic and were forced to leave their place of work. We launched “JobsNearby” – a skill-based jobseeker register and connected it with the relevant industry. This is an excellent example of not just showing concern but reaching out to the people who are a part of our daily business life.

At PayNearby, we believe, that digital-led experiences through meet the customers digitally have helped us and will continue to grow in adoption post-pandemic and will establish a strong business advantage. We make it a point to give ear to the customer’s problem because in the digital world it takes no time for the customer to move away as convenience is rated higher than income for many. Our drive to reach out for new or existing products’ feedback mechanism has helped us to re-design and deliver a better experience.

Gone are the days of ‘lena hai toh lo’, we understand that customers, today, have a slew of options to choose from at their fingertips. This is why it becomes imperative to provide them with a remarkable experience and make them want to choose us over others. We strongly believe that the COVID-19 crisis will end soon, but the changed consumer behaviour will be hard to let go. Digital, which was less relevant a year ago, has become the centre for all actions and discussions. The war, hereon, will be fought primarily on the customer experience ground. It’s the organisations that take customer experience seriously that will stand out in the clutter. Customer experience soaked in empathy will become the key constituent for the “Next Normal”.

Subhash Kumar – Co-Founder, PayNearby