Why Did It Take A Pandemic For Brands To Do The Obvious?

I am an unabashed amateur student of the shared psychological attributes of humankind that are assumed to be shared by all human beings, AKA human nature. I have long been fascinated by we humans; why do the things we do; say the things we say and on and on.

My fascination may have started while working in a supermarket in my teens. I can distinctly remember being captivated by watching shoppers select a gallon of milk as one example. Sure most people, when buying milk, seek out the gallon which offers the longest shelf life. But I also observed something else people do; something truly fascinating.

When buying a gallon of milk, if one area has been already “established” meaning that area has had more people pick a gallon from that section — most people will pick their gallon from the same area vs. breaching a new area. Don’t believe me? Watch for yourself next time in your local supermarket.

Then there’s eggs. Ah yes, eggs. Raise your hand if you do NOT open the package first before placing it in your cart. You in the back, put your hand down because we ALL do it.

A New Perspective (at least temporarily)

Upon hearing horrific news in either yours or someone else’s life, how many of you will adopt a new and profound perspective i.e. “life’s too short.” And from that point forward, you will be a changed person, you will live life to the fullest, you will not worry about things you can’t control and so on.

However, how many of these “new perspective folks” will see their newfound perspective vanish within a week?

Admit it, we ALL do it and have done it.

So then the question that begs to be asked is: Why did it take something horrific to remind us something we should already know?

The other day I read the following headline on Forbes which was the impetus to write this very article: The Coronavirus Means That Businesses Must Focus On What Matters Most – Their Customers.

Now, for the record, I have nothing against the writer or the post itself. I really don’t. But when I read the headline I immediately cringed. I do so because the very thing that popped into my head was ‘Why did it take the Coronavirus to focus on what matters most?’ Or why did it take the Coronavirus to even think of this kind of headline in the first place?

In the piece the author writes: “As habits and behaviors continue to shift, there is a growing importance for businesses of all sizes to focus on customer experience.”

I cringed, again. Sorry. But I did. “Growing importance.” Perhaps I am hung up on semantics but a better way to say this would have been “As habits and behaviors continue to shift, there is a growing importance for businesses of all sizes to shift accordingly when it comes to customer experience.”

See the difference?

The former implies that businesses were not focused on customer experience to begin with and God help them if they weren’t. The latter, however, instructs businesses to pivot, to shift as the world does the same and provide the experience customers want as a result of said shift; change your existing customer experience accordingly.

Look, I get it. I can be stickler for these kinds of things. I get it.

The bottom line is this: I do not want businesses to ONLY focus on customer experience when times are tough. And if that sounds ridiculous to you and far-fetched, you have not been paying attention and you need to wake up.

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