Staying Close to Clients During the Corona Crisis Is Decisive

April 9, 2020

Startup investments have decreased significantly since the outbreak of COVID-19 and Startups have laid off employees during the first weeks of the pandemic. Nonetheless, the corona crisis might also create opportunities for agile teams – given they are able to address the challenges that their customers are facing with user-centred solutions. F10 mentor and innovation strategist Brigitta Gyoerfi explains how entrepreneurs can stay attuned to the needs of their customers or potential clients during lockdown.

Global Startup investments have dropped since the outbreak of COVID-19. In the first two months of 2020, Chinese venture capital deals fell 50 to 57 percentage points, according to the research organization Startup Genome. If this negative tendency continues globally, approximately 28 billion US Dollar in Startup investment will go missing in 2020, extrapolations of data collected by the private capital experts at the SaaS company PitchBook and Startup Genome show. Since COVID-19 has been declared a pandemic, Startups all over the world started to lay off employees. In the San Francisco Bay area alone, over 2500 Startup employees have lost their jobs since mid-March.

Nevertheless, crises also provide opportunities for new players entering the market. According to the tech news platform VentureBeat, over half of Fortune 500 companies were created during a recession or bear market, and over 50 tech unicorns – collectively valued at 145.2 billion US dollars – were founded during the recession between 2007 and 2009. Airbnb, for example, was founded during the last financial crisis because the founders needed help paying their rent for their loft in San Francisco. In difficult times, it is even more important to focus on the target audience in order to meet their needs, help them overcome challenges and make their lives easier.

Gathering regular feedback without face-to-face interactions

During the session “Digital User Experience as a Differentiator for Success After COVID-19”, F10 mentor and innovation strategist Brigitta Gyoerfi provided the Startups in the F10 ecosystem with tips on how to stay close to their clients and design user-centred solutions by gathering regular feedback – even without face-to-face interactions. After having coached some of Europe’s leading financial companies through strategic transformation and organizational change, Brigitta founded the management consultancy Creablin’ that helps individuals, teams and organizations unlock their potential to solve complex problems. She also advises financial institutions on how to incorporate FinTechs and their solutions.“It is not the time to lean back! You must keep close to your customers and stay attuned to their needs. Pay attention to the struggles of your target audience and make sure you notice any shift in priorities”, the innovation and user design expert warns the Startup entrepreneurs at the beginning of the session. “Customer behaviour is changing during the pandemic. People are travelling less and working from home. They had to minimize in-person interactions and now seek digital experiences to replace old habits”, she explains. “After having experienced a new way of living, consumers are recalibrating their spending, increasing the likelihood that spending may permanently shift between categories and that online services could get adopted far faster”, the innovation strategist continues. This means that the online user journey becomes more important than ever before. Brigitta recommends communicating proactively and replacing every planned get-together with customers or potential customers by online interactions. The current situation not only creates opportunities to gather more regular feedback but also shows that you care for your customer during the time of struggle.

What to consider when leading virtual interactions

The options to get feedback on your solution and connect with your target audience range from one-on-one online interviews to sophisticated interactive co-creation sessions enhanced by heatmaps measuring which part of the solution or product captures most customer attention and tracking of mouse movement. Which tool to use depends mainly on the purpose of the online interaction. In essence, the video meeting solutions Zoom or Google Meet might be used for digital storyboarding, Optimal Workshop comes very handy for card sorting, and the user feedback platform Lookback is ideal for usability testing and capturing behavioural change. The digital collaboration workspaces Mural, Figma or Mira are more suitable for experience mapping to understand pain points across user journeys and touchpoints followed by rapid prototyping.

Brigitta shares six tips for remote interactions when collecting feedback on your solution that should be considered regardless of the tool or platform used:

1. Practice the tech

Test the setup and tools, instruct the participants and prepare plan B.

2. Pilot-test the content

Make a dry run with your colleagues and adjust when needed.

3. Be early

Sign in early for troubleshooting and support participants struggling with the software.

4. Recruit more users

Be prepared for last-minute cancellations and no-shows.

5. Provide guidance

Think about less tech-savvy users and offer advice.

6. Be considerate

Take the participant’s circumstances into consideration. It is a difficult time for all of us, and everybody copes differently.

Even in times of social distancing, F10 as THE HOME OF FINTECH brings the financial technology community together to boost innovation in finance. The session “Digital User Experience as a Differentiator for Success After COVID-19” by F10 mentor and innovation strategist Brigitta Gyoerfi was held online for the Startups in the F10 community.

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