Is a shift in digital expectations the technology wake-up call we need?
Undoubtedly, COVID-19 has accelerated the adoption of digital technologies by several years. Almost overnight, businesses have digitised their customer and supply-chain interactions, and implemented solutions to enable remote working and operations. Meanwhile, consumers were investing in e-learning, and smarter homes and embracing e-commerce, subscription video on demand (SVOD) and gaming consoles. Perceived barriers that existed before the pandemic were demolished in one fell swoop and the digital revolution was, well, now.
As the plates gradually stop spinning and we settle into this new normal, we have space to reflect on what this new relationship with technology will look like post-crisis. To understand it better we turned to Course Corrector – an RXP research initiative that aggregates first-party survey, search and social sentiment data with industry research. Here’s what we’ve learnt.
It’s hardly a surprise that our use of technology changed during COVID-19. We’ve been using messaging apps (71%),video calls (53%) and social media (47%) to stay in touch with friends and family, and video chat applications to speak to colleagues (37%). We’ve shopped online…a lot. Among over 2000 Australian survey respondents, 80% had purchased something online for home delivery. But that’s not all. Some of us have been using telehealth services (35%) and looking to websites and blogs to teach ourselves to DIY (80%).
Perhaps more interesting is our acceptance of technology’s ubiquity. For example, three in four Aussies (72%) believe technology will be more instrumental in their lives post-pandemic. They agree it will influence how they socialise with friends (73%) and family (72%),how they shop for things (77%), stay entertained (81%), how they exercise (51%) and look after their mental health (54%), what foods they eat (43%), their education (70%), and how they spend their free time (72%). They were also positive (52%) or indifferent (27%) to sharing biometric data like vaccinations and immunity tests in order to travel overseas.
Naturally, as more people use more digital channels, their expectations for fast, seamless experiences will get higher. Considering the huge push for digital technologies as a way to trade through the crisis, you could argue that the bar has already been raised. Good online customer experiences are no longer a competitive advantage for an organisation; they’re a hygiene factor.
For example, our research found that 94% of people across all age demographics rate customer service as important in relation to digital communications. Security (96%) was a big concern, too. When rating home delivery, 71% considered it important and 74% wanted that delivery to be speedier than it already is.
What’s more, according to some studies, good customer experiences and speed actually trump quality. In this report, 74% of Australians rated customer experience as a key factor in the decision to buy –behind price and quality. Not only that; many are willing to pay more for efficient service (47%), knowledgeable/helpful service (41%) and convenience (43%).
While COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on the world’s economies, it’s also revived the ‘shop local’ movement as Australians look for ways to support a fast recovery on home turf. When we asked Australians about their intentions post-COVID, 70% said they plan to make more of an effort to shop local. Interestingly, this study of Australian households found that the desire to support local communities trumps price sensitivity, with people willing to spend more in the interest of helping out.
If you look at today’s industry leaders, you’ll see that they don’t just sell a product or service. Organisations like realestate.com.au, Seek, carsales, Uber and Amazon are essentially software companies that provide a digital solution in a particular niche. Case in point: a big portion of their workforce is software developers. Even banks are no longer brick-and-mortar financial institutions, but rather technology providers that happen to deal with financial products.
All the most successful organisations today are grounded in technology. Tomorrow won’t be any different. Even organisations who are well on their way to digital transformation shouldn’t rest on their laurels. In fact, the very idea of digital transformation may be an outdated concept. What we should be talking about is digital evolution, where we continuously evolve at the same rate as new technology and the needs and wants of our customers.
For business and government organisations alike, the message is clear: the impact of COVID-19 has accelerated digital adoption and the need for organisations to ensure they have the right technology to meet current expectations, while still preparing for those of the future.
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