Using Journey Maps to Understand How Covid-19 Changed Customer Behavior
The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically changed the way we work, live, and interact with each other. In this paper, we delve into what drives customer behavior now, and we show the ways the journey mapping can help organizations rethink customer experiences in light of the potentially lasting effects of this crisis. We focus particularly on the restaurant industry — which is more impacted by this crisis than almost any other part of the economy — and highlight seven examples that show how these establishments are re-imagining their customers' experiences.
How The Coronavirus Is Changing Customer Behavior
Almost everywhere, the coronavirus is re-shaping customer behavior. Weeks of extended confinement have led billions of people to a dream-like trance: long, indistinguishable days of remote working, homeschooling children. disinfecting, checking in with loved ones from afar, and worrying about the effects of recession.
These drastic lifestyle shifts have materially changed how we behave and make many decisions. In this new climate, a new set of core motivations now drive customer behavior. We call these core motivations Jobs to be Done — the functional and emotional tasks that customers are trying to get done when purchasing a product or service. Certain attitudes, behaviors, or circumstances, which we call Drivers, explain why a Job may be more or less important for a given customer. With the coronavirus in the picture, many customers have seen their priorities reshuffled as a result:
Many of these Jobs were important before the coronavirus entered our lives, but their role in driving customer behavior is heightened now more than ever.
What Reshuffled Customer Priorities Mean For Businesses
As a result of these reshuffled priorities, customers are changing the way they consider and make purchases. These changes include:
Some sectors, such as the hotel or restaurant industry, have traditionally relied on in-person interactions. Likewise, some brands may have focused their image on impeccable offline customer service. These strategies may have worked for a time, but faced with a global pandemic, today's executives need to re-shape the way they do business to fit their customers' new purchasing habits.
How are companies to make sense of this new world? How can organizations adapt the customer experience they offer to suit to the new reality caused by the coronavirus?
Using Journey Mapping To Make Sense Of Changing Customer Needs And Experiences
Journey mapping, especially combined with Jobs to be Done, is a powerful tool for organizations to make sense of complex, multi-dimensional customer behavior. The aim of a journey map is to plot out the end-to-end experience that a customer might have with a company, product, or category. These maps tell the story from the customer's perspective, including a timeline of interactions and the emotional highs and lows along the way.
Journey maps are a well-used tool to identify pain points, redundancies, and opportunities for differentiation. But when customer behavior is rapidly shifting — as it is now — journey maps become essential resources for businesses to understand how their customer experience can radically change and proactively identify areas of improvement.
Our advice is to rethink your customer journey maps. What has changed due to the current crisis? What will change as the crisis abates, and as customers inculcate new habits? What can you do proactively to make your customer experience more satisfying, lower-cost, and more flexible to accommodate what might be lasting changes in preferences and behaviors?
The graphic depicts some of the ways that people are addressing their new priorities in this time of the coronavirus. Consider how your organization can relate to customers in ways that correspond to the priorities they have which are relevant to your industry.
To connect your journey map insights to actionable steps that your organization can take, consider how various touchpoints may be affected. Depending on which steps in the journey are impacted by changing customer priorities, a business will need to revisit its marketing strategy, operations, and even perhaps its product offerings.
Industry Spotlight: How Restaurants Are Responding To The Coronavirus
Restaurants are living in a different world now. Picture an establishment that relied on its dine-in service, with only limited experience in takeout or delivery. Back then, customers cared about customer service, the atmosphere, and the location, in addition to staple factors such as the food and pricing. Effectively the business model was centered around in-person interactions with customers.
However, forced to close their sit-in areas to limit the spread of the coronavirus, many restaurants need to rethink their customer experience. What can they do to sustain their business for the duration of the crisis?
If we revisit the new customer priorities we laid out earlier, we can see that there are many ways that customers can address their Jobs to be Done through food and beverage. Consider the options listed in the graphic below:
How have these behavior changes affected the journey of restaurants' customers? By mapping out customers' reshuffled Jobs, Drivers, and Pain Points, a restaurant can pinpoint opportunities for a revamped customer experience. Picture two customers, Jane and Marc, who are about to have dinner. Jane lives by herself, while Marc lives with his family. What does their journey look like in today's pandemic, and how could a restaurant better serve their needs?
Examples: How Restaurants Are Improving Customer Experience During The Coronavirus
The journey map on the previous page (in the PDF) shows only a handful of ways to address today's customer needs. In the last few weeks, some restaurants have come up with even more strategies to improve their customer experience. Consider:
Job #1– How restaurants are helping customers improve their quality of life Key needs: Retain control over my life in the midst of uncertainty. Feel healthy while in confinement. Remain intellectually stimulated. Feel connected to the outside world.
Customers looking for a healthy diet would gladly welcome a balanced menu and nutritional tips from a restaurant, both on their website and as paper-based reminders in their delivery or takeout items. EveryTable, a Los Angeles-based café, went even further and launched a helpline to coordinate healthy meal delivery service throughout the crisis.
With confinement also comes cabin fever, which means customers will be starving for novelty. To help customers improve their quality of life, restaurants can help them cultivate a sense of learning and discovery. That was the approach chosen by Intertribal Foodways, a small catering business located Saint Paul, Minnesota. Faced with innumerable cancellations, the founder now organizes virtual cooking classed and presentations on indigenous foods to sustain his business for the coming months. He also launched a YouTube channel on indigenous ingredients in North America, gaining wider attention on social media during the crisis.
Job #2– How restaurants are helping customers provide for their families Key needs: Protect my loved ones and myself from the virus. Feel like a good parent. Support family members/friends in need. Feel that my family is happy together.
Cooped up in their homes with their families, many customers are faced with new challenges and considerations, particularly when it comes to their relationship with food. To alleviate the burden of accommodating different food preferences and cooking large quantities, many restaurants have turned towards family-friendly menus with popular and easily shareable items. For instance, a coffee shop in Los Angeles and San Francisco called Sightglass recently pivoted towards offering sandwich kits, pizza, mac and cheese, and other family classics.
In addition to the logistics of planning large, regular meals, restaurants can target the emotional aspects of family gatherings. As we plow through these difficult times, customers are all the more eager to share enjoyable moments with their partners and families. In an effort to foster these positive connections, some restaurants like Canlis in Seattle launched a "family meal" delivery service that includes a bottle of wine. Others like Lord Stanley in San Francisco offer a delivered five-course menu, complete with cocktails.
Job #3 – How restaurants are helping customers alleviate their stress Key needs: Feel prepared for an emergency, Avoid negativity. Take care of myself.
Restaurants today have an important role to play in alleviating customers' anxiety. They may not be able to do so through regular in-person dining, but other options are available. Take the need to avoid negativity. Burdened by concerns over the pandemic and its ramifications, customers are in dire need of reassurance — including in the form of comfort foods. In response, Tampa's Rooster & The Till restaurant launched a takeout business exclusively centered on fried chicken sandwiches and gnocchi with short ribs — the kind of solace today's customers are looking for.
If restaurants can sell reassurance, they can also provide indulgence and excitement. As customers try to pace their newly confined lives, they will occasionally want to break their routine with something new. Mealtimes may be fairly predictable, but restaurants have the chance to spice things up. In addition to offering a different family meal each night, All Together Now in Chicago launched a Wine & Cheese Hotline to provide personalized recommendations.
We have seldom seen such a rapid shift in customer experience as in these few weeks. But we don't need to be passive victims to events. By thinking through what motivations customers have, how well those are currently being satisfied, and the distinct steps of the journeys that customers take, you can find new, memorable ways to deliver great experiences even in these troubled times.