We are looking at ringing in 2021 with pleasure. How about you? Chances are you are ready to call this year last year, too. Although this year has been anything but usual, we typically look back at this time of year to review what we have learned. So, for better or worse, we shall do that for 2020 as well.
The pandemic has presented an opportunity to participate in a forced-perspective taking exercise for all of us. We shared both personal and business things that 2020 has taught us on a recent podcast. I thought I would share them here as well.
- We have a renewed appreciation for human resilience. Much has been thrown at people this year, often compounding tragedy upon difficulty, and many are still recovering. However, we also see that people roll with things; we adjust and make the best of what we can. It’s been heartening, as tricky as it has been for everybody. Sure, there are also examples of people not coping well with these things, too, but on the whole, it’s been affirming. Human resilience is incredible.
- People can do amazing things in a crisis. It’s surprising what we can accomplish when the opportunity presents itself. At the beginning of the pandemic, I was talking to a client who moved a 500-person call center to work from home in only 15 days. I mean, consider the logistics of that! Moreover, the impossible was happening all over the place every day. When push comes to shove, somehow we find a way to happen. Consider the scientific community and the haste with which they developed a vaccine for SARS-CoV-2. We have these processes that are in place to test and maximize safety for a vaccine. In this instance, however, we needed things to happen faster, and, by golly, everyone worked together to make things happen more quickly.
- The most important things are not things at all. I enjoy a wonderful life. I fly between England and the states and have all the trappings of enjoying myself. However, in the first lockdown we had, I didn’t miss stuff; I missed hugging my grandchildren. All the things are the icing on the cake. We are social animals, and we need other people. Family and friends are an essential thing in your life.
- Businesses can benefit from showing empathy for customers. From the business side of things, we learned even more about the power of proper business actions in your customers’ time of need. These actions can manifest in increased accommodation, flexibility, and anticipation of what people want and will need under unusual circumstances. Many companies have bent over backward and earned a lot of goodwill from customers when they needed it. Businesses that didn’t will probably pay a long-term price for that. Also, empathy is essential within a company, too, for colleagues and teams and their burden during this time. Organizations have adapted to the new environment, bringing compassion to the fore. Some grocery stores in the UK, Tesco, and Sainsbury’s gave the relief money they received back to the government because they didn’t need it. People will remember that, and these stores will benefit from the goodwill their actions generated.
- The idea of Customer Science will continue to change how we approach business. We did a podcast about Customer Science a few weeks ago, describing how the concept is the next wave of change. Customer Science is the fusion between digital technology, artificial intelligence (AI), behavioral science to increase understanding of what customers want and what they do to get it. Perhaps most importantly, Customer Science makes it easier to anticipate customers’ needs and ensure you have what they want when they want it in personalized interaction. Customer Science is where it all fits together, and it will be a massive growth area in the future. The technology exists already, but we are hitting an inflection point with several of them simultaneously. Moreover, there is a different way of thinking about customers facilitated by these new technologies and approaches. We know there’s a ton of data that we can use to analyze things and predict outcomes. Infusing what we know about the behavioral sciences and machine learning, and other AI creates this inflection point. We’re getting to the point now where there’s more experience with all of these elements and people are more confident of what’s possible with them. Also, there are more tools available so that people can seamlessly integrate the various elements into what they’re doing. It means that things might change rapidly at this point in the area of Customer Science.
Crises also present an opportunity to learn, grow, and develop yourself personally. My corporate life experience progressed from the shop floor through to a senior executive position, and then I started my own successful business. Throughout that time we had crises, many of them (although none like a global pandemic, to be sure). How did I get through it? Excellent leadership and mentorship. Furthermore, I believe in giving back with coaching for leaders that need an extra set of hands to manage the crises they face.
Finally, 2020 has taught me gratitude for you, my readers. I would like to thank you all for subscribing to this newsletter. I am hopefully coming to you with some wisdom and maybe a few jokes as well. Have a great New Year, everyone, and I look forward to talking to you next year. Cheers!
To hear more about this idea in more detail, listen to the complete podcast here.
Colin Shaw is the founder and CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s leading Customer experience consultancy & training organizations. Colin is an international author of six bestselling books and an engaging keynote speaker.
Follow Colin Shaw on Twitter @ColinShaw_CX