Customer Experience Round-Up: March 23

Coronavirus has uprooted nearly every aspect of normal life in the last few weeks. Many people are working from home, kids are out of school, events are cancelled and businesses are struggling to adjust to the new normal. But even during trying times, there is goodness to be found. Many companies have started manufacturing much-needed products, offering services to at-risk customers, supporting displaced employees and a myriad of other things. Sales, revenue and profits matter, but the most important thing is people. Here are three stories of companies doing good during the global pandemic. 

Grocery Chains Set Special Hours For At-Risk Shoppers

A number of grocery store chains are changing their hours to accommodate and protect older and vulnerable shoppers who are at the highest risk for the coronavirus. Target is reserving the first hour the store is open each Wednesday for “vulnerable” shoppers, and Walmart will follow a similar process for the hour before the stores open each Tuesday. Whole Foods, Dollar General and The Fresh Market, among other stores, are opening their doors to senior shoppers for the first hour of operation every day of the week. The specialized hours allow at-risk customers to shop with fewer crowds and gives the store time to sanitize more areas before they arrive.

Customer experience means considering the needs of all customers, especially those at higher risk for disease. While setting aside certain hours for at-risk customers potentially means turning away other customers, these stores show that they are dedicated to creating a safe shopping experience for customers.

Amazon Prioritizes Essential Items

This week, Amazon started prioritizing household staples and medical supplies to respond to the huge demand surrounding the coronavirus. The new policy applies to items sold both through Amazon and its third-party sellers and is expected to last until April 5. Many household items, such as toilet paper, bottled water and over-the-counter medicine, are out of stock across the site from incredibly high demand, so the move allows Amazon to prioritize those items coming in and out of its warehouses. As a result, purchases deemed “non-essential” could possibly see slight shipping delays.

Amazon has already taken a stand against price-gouging on in-demand items by removing thousands of listings of overpriced hand sanitizer and toilet paper, but prioritizing essential items takes it to the next level. Shoppers need many of these items quickly and are turning to a source they can trust for fast delivery. Although deeming some items essential may seem subjective, prioritizing high-demand items helps customers get what they want and builds goodwill for Amazon.

LVMH Halts Perfume Production And Moves To Hand Sanitizer

Luxury giant LVMH usually manufactures designer perfumes in its French factories, but this week it quickly halted normal production to fill a more pressing need: hand sanitizer. Last week, French government officials asked companies to help fill in the gaps of much-needed hospital supplies. LVMH rapidly changed its production and donated 12 tons of hand sanitizer to 39 hospitals in Paris in the first week. The company said it will continue producing hand sanitizer for as long as necessary.  

LVMH may be the ultimate example of a company doing good during this global crisis. Without question, the company immediately shifted a huge portion of its manufacturing capability to help local hospitals. The company is definitely losing money by not producing its normal products and instead donating hand sanitizer, but doing so keeps employees at work and shows the company’s dedication to doing what’s right.

The coronavirus pandemic has put customers and businesses on edge, and the continual stream of bad news doesn’t seem to be letting up soon. But even during trying economic times, many companies are making the right choice to help customers stay calm and healthy.

Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker and the author of the bestselling book The Customer Of The Future. Sign up for her weekly newsletter here.

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