touchless customer experience

Adapting to a Changing Landscape: Growing Customer Relationships in the Age of COVID-19

November 18, 2020 4 minute read
See how brands like Shake Shack, Mars and PVH created innovative customer experiences in the face of new COVID-19 restrictions.
touchless customer experience

Calling 2020 a “tumultuous” time is…charitable at best. As the world continues to present new challenges, we took the opportunity to make our all-virtual Acquia Engage conference about the spirit of adaptability and agility in a constantly changing marketplace. For several of our customers, dealing with COVID-19 meant raising their digital IQ — and doing it fast. Thousands of organizations have put their digital transformation plans into overdrive to accommodate customer demand, as continuous, relevant content becomes more and more vital to business goals.

Both customer experience (CX) and employee experience (EX) have changed substantially over the past year. But scale is the common thread that connects the two. Brands need to scale and adapt to meet consumer needs, as well as generate employee insights — and that’s all powered by technology. Commerce, machine learning, and low-code development can increase content output and nimbly grow their digital presence as more of the customer journey is taking place online. 

The current climate has given rise to more strategic investment, a renewed focus on supporting agile responses to changing market conditions and more purposeful support of bold, innovative thinking. But to do it all at scale, it takes an even more organized effort. At this year’s Engage conference, our team met with leaders from customers of all sizes to discuss the ways they’ve changed their approach in 2020. 

Shake Shack: Making Curbside Pickup from Scratch

The big idea: To face a challenge head-on, bring teams together and put the right process in place. Then put it to work. 

At the beginning of the year, Shake Shack wanted to drive company growth. When the pandemic hit, that forced them to pivot. In the Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) space, sales switched to digital overnight, and the right customer experience became a matter of survival for brands. 

With the help of Acquia and Bounteous, the company re-prioritized safety for their consumers and shifted to a more product-focused mentality. That means curbside pickup, walk-up windows and increased communication. With the right technology in place and a major push for cross-team collaboration, Shake Shack was able to go live with curbside in about seven weeks. An effort of this scale requires not only efficiency but a united purpose across the entire organization. 

Mars: Making Social Distancing a Little Sweeter

The big idea: Put your customers first. Then use innovation to better serve them. 

With a socially distanced Halloween on the horizon, Mars found a way to add value through innovation. With a more consumer-centric approach, coupled with consumers’ natural love for social experiences, Mars built an ecosystem where consumers can live that would help save Halloween. Through a co-innovation partnership with Acquia and Bounteous they were able to keep the celebration alive. Mars used virtual reality (VR) technology to launch Treat Town, a digital trick-or-treat app experience.  

With their app in place, and millions of families giving candy to their friends and loved ones all October long, Mars managed to use innovation to solve a 2020 problem while keeping an eye on the future. The result is an experience that has legs far beyond this year, and has the potential to grow even more in the future. 

PVH: Bringing Customer Data to Life

The big idea: Foster a culture of “data curiosity.” As more teams use data to drive organizational decision-making, the insights become richer.  

COVID-19 hit brick and mortar retail particularly hard. To ensure they were maximizing the effectiveness of their digital transformation, PVH was able to leverage data to create meaningful insights that guided their steps. The use of a customer data platform brought customer data together from different touchpoints and helped the entire organization use data intelligently. With more complete access to data, they were able to develop insights in new ways, and scale them across the company. 

Moving Forward

As the marketing landscape continues to change, it’s more important than ever to put the needs of the customer at the forefront of your efforts. If you’re able to adapt your experience quickly — across sites, across experiences, and across all other channels — your brand is better equipped to grow, even in tough times. 

In the end, digital transformation serves a greater purpose: to help organizations deliver on a consumer-centric model. If you prioritize speed, agility and scale, you’ll be able to build a cultural foundation for your whole organization and enable teams of all kinds to be more data curious. That gives them the tools they need to leverage this data to gain customer insights and becomes the catalyst, not just of digital transformation, but of enterprise transformation.