Anticipating a New Normal: 5 Specialists Weigh In

As our daily lives have been disrupted during the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve developed new habits. But when this is all over, how sticky will those new habits be?

Research suggests that the degree of change is a function of time—the longer we’re isolated, the stickier our habits will become—but we’ve also seen that just days out of routine can produce long-term adjustments. Though the pandemic’s time frame is unknown, we can predict which habits that come out of it will stick.

We chatted with a few of our teams to hear how they think the pandemic will impact their industries long term.

A New Lens for Interactive Experiences

“As user experience specialists we need to start thinking about how we can make this experience easier for the consumer. The way we interact with objects now will be less about physical touch and more about contact-free solutions. The whole world of touch experience is going to change. Traveling, food delivery, grocery shopping, doctor’s visits, elevators, and ATMs will all be treated differently.

Brands need to start thinking about how to cater to and speak to their audiences digitally as marketing is going to vastly change after this pandemic.”

—Kate Brock, UX Designer

Rethinking Organizational Practices

“For some organizations, this period of disruption is forcing them into considering new ways to work. Those new ways may have more stickiness than some realize; after all, better ways of working together will almost always be adopted over older approaches. For instance, if a company has proven they can work remotely effectively, policies will likely shift to allow that more freely.

Some organizations could also consider reducing their footprint and adjusting the purpose of their space. We can narrow our intentions and focus in on a renewed purpose for our spaces and make them much more impactful.

Talent that can evolve, adapt and adopt this new way of working and do it very well will be in high demand. Vetting for high accountability, communication and ownership will become important as we work to trust individuals off-site even more.”

—Adam Winstead, VP, HR & Operations

Expanding Digital Capabilities

“Knowing that the landscape will be completely different on the other side of COVID-19, brands have to focus on their digital experience for the customers. That means focusing on both improving and expanding their digital ecosystem, including billing and payment, mobile apps, loyalty programs, customer resources, scheduling appointments, and community forums. For most of these, there are off-the-shelf tools with plug-and-playability that are very attractive in this dynamic time of rapid change.

It’s important to evaluate how you implement new tools by aiming to start with out-of-the-box options and then moving to a custom experience as you learn more about your user and what that tool means for your brand. For example, do the tools have APIs? How robust are they? And always remember that the customer lifecycle needs to feel consistent both in terms of branding and quality.”

—Evanne Lindley, Director of Interactive Products & Services

Authenticity All Around

“Communication with journalists will be more personal. Instead of diving right into a pitch we’re checking in with our contacts to see how they are doing during the pandemic, sharing little anecdotes, and remembering that we’re all human through all of it.

With shifts happening across all industries, influencer marketing will continue to grow. Consumers like to see real-world examples of products. While magazine placements or digital ads are important, seeing an influencer share their experience with a product in an authentic way will become even more important. I expect to see this shift happen in the coming weeks as we come out of social distancing in some states. Also, I think we’re going to see a heavier emphasis on things related to health and safety, so knowing how to pivot our clients toward these topics will give us a leg up.”

—Rita Murphy, Account Executive, Public Relations

Taking Social Seriously

“COVID-19 has changed how clients value social media, only solidifying that all brands should have a social media strategy that’s integral to their marketing plan.

As in-person events have gone digital, users have started using live video to reach their audiences. This pandemic has changed how we will view large gatherings for years to come. People will expect events to offer live streaming so they can participate from the comfort of their own home.

Also, there are quite a few opportunities on TikTok for brands. Early adopters will be able to grow their organic following quickly. Advertising costs will be relatively inexpensive at first. Brand partnerships with creators will provide ample opportunity to reach audiences in new ways without committing to a permanent presence on the platform.”

—Kristin Dick, Account Supervisor, Social Media

Poised for Future Success

The brands that can most accurately predict new behavior norms and successfully meet customers with the right solutions in their newly preferred modes of engagement will be poised to emerge from the virus with a newfound competitive advantage. Those who sit back and bet on a total return to pre-virus normalcy may end up wondering why their loyal customers have disappeared.

How can you adjust your brand’s plans? Take a look at some of our thoughts on brand recovery planning, and partner with us to enter the new normal with confidence.

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