5 In 5: Customer Experiences Worth Keeping

Each week, Padilla stands at the intersection of people, culture and brands to bring you five stories that you can read in five minutes.

Over the last 18 months we’ve seen the pandemic disrupt every type of transaction and interaction we have with businesses, brands, and each other. While we may still have some time to go before a sense of normalcy returns, some of these interruptions to pre-COVID life have actually inspired better experiences for consumers – and we hope a few stick around.

  1. Telehealth

While medicine has been on the brink of telehealth for years, the pandemic saw a jump in adoption from 7 to 8 percent to 95 percent. Not only have patients been able to avoid the wait and anxiety of a medical waiting room for routine appointments, but the ease of access and the ability for insurance to cover telehealth has paved the way for this to be an enduring (and less stressful) way to get a checkup. [Harvard]

2. Curbside Pickup and Take Out Windows

The pandemic has revitalized the tried-and-true drive-thru, seeing surges in sales not only at the window but also through curbside pickup. Many restaurants in big cities have even installed takeout windows accommodating walk-up customers. These safer options provide customers with less risk of exposure and a quicker experience by “cutting out the middleman” – putting control in the hands of the customer, and at a reasonable price. [Forbes]

3. QR code menus

During the pandemic QR codes swiftly began replacing physical menus across the country – in fact, half of all full-service restaurant operators in the United States have added QR code menus since March 2020. But keeping germs at bay isn’t the only positive – by moving the ordering process online, restaurants are able to better track customer data and give customers personalized recommendations and promotions. [New York Times]

4. Reservations

Nobody enjoys getting to a restaurant or an event just to be greeted with an hour-long line. Platforms like Resy and Opentable are seeing heavy traffic as people book reservations to avoid the crowds. Even Walt Disney World has opted to maintain their Parks Pass system, “which requires guests to reserve their spot at a theme park in advance before visiting on a given day.” One thing is for certain, with benefits like less time waiting in lines and more time enjoying the attractions, we hope the popularity of reservations and hyper experience planning doesn’t go anywhere. [Theme Park Tourist]

5. Gyms

We couldn’t be more excited to get back into our local gyms, but let’s face it, we have definitely been looking the other way on how dirty they can get. At the risk of prompting pure panic, many studies have found “that free weights contain more than 360 times the amount of bacteria than toilet seats.” With all those icky germs, there is a renewed focus on practices like wipe downs, a long over-looked but critical step. We hope the spotlight on cleanliness created by the pandemic means the conscious effort to leave gym equipment clean is here to stay. [Bustle]

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