Business Briefing: Three things missing from your recovery plan

Harriet Nicholson
Harriet Nicholson
Head of Strategy 29 May 20205 minutes read

Businesses across the country are dusting off the cobwebs and gearing up to reopen their doors to a new world and a new consumer. In this weekly digest we consider a few areas that can get easily missed off a reopening recovery plan.


Welcome to the latest Etch business briefing. In this snapshot of the week, we wade through the melee of Covid-19 updates, articles and thought pieces so you don’t have to.

Now begins the all-consuming slog of clawing back months of lost revenue, pitching to anxious customers and protecting their safety.

Here at Etch we’re in the throes of recovery planning with our clients.

Naturally, a lot of the conversation evolves around the colossal operational challenges and steps needed to entice would-be customers out of their homes. But we’ve found that in the midst of the reopening operations, it’s easy to overlook the critical importance of those early customers and their impact in relaunch and recovery.
 Here are a few areas that can get easily missed off a reopening recovery plan:

Rapid-fire behavioural data sources

Sorry to break it to you but your pre-Covid market research? It’s probably out of date now. Indeed your pre-Covid target audiences, especially if they were defined by demographic profiles, are probably no longer fit for purpose. Under these new conditions, understanding consumers’ new behaviours, attitudes and emotional mindsets is critically important.

This means turning to data sources that provide a more immediate read of consumer behaviour, such as search insights, social listening, barometers and real-time transaction data.

At Etch, to move at pace we’ve even supplemented online behavioural analysis with low-fi, rapid qualitative analysis, using WhatsApp panels to gather quick pulse checks on consumer attitudes and emotional mindset shifts. Without the privilege of time, we’re having to be more adaptive - and less polished.

Ratings and reviews mission control

Your early customers’ experiences will provide the social proof that your physical experience is worth returning to. But your customers’ priorities and expectations from companies have shifted. Take holiday research, for example. Property hygiene has now become the single most important factor for travellers when thinking about booking a holiday. Companies will be assessed first and foremost on their safety and security credentials – and chastised for failure to live up to their hygiene promises.

This means that hygiene ratings and company reviews suddenly take on new strategic significance.

Pre-Covid, reviews provided reassurances and insights to save time and support purchase decision-making. Now they could become a public health warning, calling out low safety standards to ward off other prospective visitors.

In short, poor safety reviews could prove reputationally and commercially catastrophic.

As such, it’s crucially important that early customer feedback is surfaced, respected, elevated and acted on quickly. Hygiene ratings should hold a greater internal value, while reviews need to be monitored with real scrutiny.

Assumptions, hypotheses and CX test frameworks

Alas gone are the days when we could write a strategy, sit back and watch it slowly pan out before our eyes. We can look to other markets, unearth the insights and make informed assumptions. We can – and must – set smarter digital visions, objectives, roadmaps and strategic initiatives. But we equally need to acknowledge that there is no crystal ball to tell us exactly how consumers are going to behave in the ‘new normal’.

To thrive under these unknown circumstances, we need to embrace a spirit of experimentation and iterative decision-making. Doing so requires smarter – and more relevant – customer data capture, better feedback loops and faster set-ups to act on key insights. It means getting comfortable with running tests based on hypotheses, knowing that some might work, and some might not.

Here at Etch we’re using the first few weeks of re-openings to sense check early assumptions and gather new insights for our partners. This understanding will help us re-evaluate objectives and set new hypotheses for our partners’ more concerted ‘relaunch’ activity.

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