Consumers have gone from being empathetic and understanding to once again demanding good service from retailers and service providers.
Customer feedback recorded from some of New Zealand's biggest retailers shows New Zealand consumers are no always longer thinking of Covid-19 when they shop.
Data insights pulled from Customer Radar, reveal in the lead-up and during lockdown, Kiwi consumers felt a sense of empathy for businesses struggling through the pandemic, however now – not so much.
A year on from lockdown, newly released customer feedback findings reveal pandemic fatigue has set in, placing pressure on New Zealand businesses to ensure their customer experiences are up to scratch.
Mat Wylie, Customer Radar CEO, said keywords and trends within customer feedback across retailers had changed from the height of the pandemic.
"Please and thank-you and the words 'covid', 'virus' and 'pandemic' were trending very high in early 2020 as you would expect, however in the first quarter of 2021, these references dropped by a massive 82 per cent," he said.
"Things have been a little different in this first quarter of 2021, with the word 'service' becoming the trending word, popping up in 40per cent of all feedback we monitor, almost double the number of times 'service' cropped up at the start of 2020 at 21per cent.
Wylie said the findings point to the fact that a sense of normality has returned for most New Zealanders, "customers are once again expecting a good level of service and for the overall customer experience to be business as usual – Covid-19 notwithstanding."
Wylie said business owners needed to make sure if they were still experiencing delays or low stock or had to put prices up because of the pandemic they rewarded customers in other ways.
"Businesses need to be aware that many customers right now are nervous about price hikes, frustrated by-products not being available due to delayed shipments, and less empathetic towards poor customer experiences than they were this time last year," Wylie said.
"Communication is the key. The word 'communication' is also trending this year, which suggests that customers understand that things go wrong, but just want to be updated and informed - they appreciate it.
Listening and responding to customers is the golden opportunity for businesses."
"If prices do have to go up they need to communicate why to customers and make sure the customer experience is the best in other ways," he said.
"Business owners can make sure they do the best with the things they can control and then customers are more understanding of the things like low stock or shipping delays."
Angela Hurst, brand and customer experience manager at Liquorland said the insights were valuable for the business to improve service during the various lockdowns.
The store was closed during level 4 but was able to open for click and collect orders in level 3.
With every order filled Hurst said customers were invited to give feedback on the new process and how it could be improved.
"We found out very quickly that customers were pleased with the new processes we had implemented to keep them safe, which gave our stores confidence that we were doing all we could," she said.
"Some customers found our website a little tricky to navigate in places so we've used this feedback to help design a better user experience online and eliminate any pain points."
Hurst said listening to customers and being open to change had helped the business grow through the various lockdowns.
The company now collects feedback through QR codes now most people know how to use them.