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How to Meet Your Customers' 'New Normal' Expectations

How to Meet Your Customers' 'New Normal' Expectations

by Kirti Barry and Chris Portera

Story Highlights

  • Businesses face challenges bringing customers back during uncertain times
  • Customer analytics can help businesses strategize
  • The right data can identify valuable customers and their unmet needs

Engaging customers has been one of the biggest challenges for businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. But there is hope on the horizon for organizations that use this challenge as an opportunity to better understand who their customers are and what they want.

As of May 10, 58% of U.S. adults reported they were completely (17%) or mostly (41%) isolating themselves due to their concerns about COVID-19. Businesses must engage with customers still at home -- and, more vitally, reengage with customers as stay-at-home orders lift. And customers may reduce spending as they anticipate tougher times ahead. A recent survey found that 51% of Americans have been spending less money in recent months.

How can companies bring their customers back in an environment with so many uncertainties?

While optimistic leaders may believe that the coronavirus disruption will soon be just a memory, Gallup is uncovering that it could have long-lasting effects on consumer behaviors. People may buy differently.

The organizations that will thrive moving forward are those that have the foresight to use what they know about their customers to plan for the future.

Organizations that change nothing will struggle.

How to Realign Your Products and Services With Consumer Expectations

To strengthen your customer engagement, Gallup recommends using customer analytics to better understand your customers' underlying needs and expectations -- what's driving their purchase decisions.

Customer analytics gives you a true picture of attitudes, behaviors and preferences to attract, retain and engage consumers. It is a powerful tool to identify unmet customer needs.

These data can help companies outperform the competition. They allow you to develop the right approach, products and services to meet your customers' unique needs. According to one research study, it's a tactic that 81% of executives say is critical for growing profits -- but fewer than 25% believe their company uses effectively.

Customer analytics is a powerful tool to identify unmet customer needs.

When leaders uncover how their customers' needs have shifted, they can refocus their marketing efforts to reflect the changing environment.

Here are five best practices to understand your customers and stand out in your market:

  1. Gather the data. Understand the products and services that your customers want to buy right now -- and why. The right balance of quantitative and qualitative research is critical. Asking your customers the right questions and observing their behaviors will provide you with in-depth qualitative research. To be effective, leaders should shift from having more data to having the right data.

  2. Determine the differentiators. Identify the variables that influence when and how your customers are making purchase decisions. Group customers according to like characteristics, preferences, needs or behaviors -- and individualize your approach to each group.

  3. Understand the role of emotions. Gallup's research finds that customers make 70% of their purchase decisions based on emotions. Uncovering the emotional components that drive your customers to purchase your products and services will help you prioritize your marketing efforts.

  4. Identify your most valuable customers. Knowing which customers have a strong correlation to your growth and profitability can help you efficiently allocate scarce resources to the most profitable, growth-positioned customer segments.

  5. Develop a go-to-market strategy. Use the right customer channels. And tailor your communication to the value proposition that's most relevant to each customer segment.

The Bottom Line

Customer analytics is a powerful tool for allocating resources throughout your organization to create a value proposition that uniquely serves your customers' needs. It allows companies to innovate their products and services to meet changing customer expectations.

Companies that can adapt and create a world-class customer experience will emerge much stronger on the other side of the current -- and any -- crisis.

Get the support you need to meet the change head-on:


Kirti Barry is a Customer Centricity Practice Manager at Gallup.

Chris Portera is a Director at Gallup.

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