With so much disruption due to COVID-19, the future of the hospitality and retail industries remain in the balance. How will your customer behaviour change post-lockdown? How can our industry compete with a greater customer desire to stay at home? What will reduced capacity and social distancing mean for your customer experience?
I spoke to some of the leading consultants to the sector for this piece.
With so much disruption, one element of the retail and hospitality experience that will remain consistent is your music. Often relegated to merely ‘background’ status, music will be elevated as a key atmospheric driver and differentiator from dining to shopping.
Furthermore, as venues are forced to operate at reduced capacity, the music you play will be much more audible and therefore have a bigger impact than ever. It is therefore crucial that you get your selection right.
With your customers being even more selective around how and when they spend their money, it becomes crucial to understand how to deliver emotional and memorable experiences.
In terms of emotions, music is perhaps the best tool that businesses have to trigger an emotional response from customers. The music you play works on your customers’ conscious and subconscious minds. Their ears are always receiving sound information and that affects them both emotionally and physically. The emotional content of each song works on our limbic systems to affect our mood, and in parallel, the rhythm content works on our cerebellum to affect how fast we move.
On a very basic level, if you are wanting to put your customers in a great mood, play happy, familiar music. If you are wanting to turn tables faster to keep capacity turning over, play faster music with a consistent pulse. If you’d like to dig deeper on music and the brain, check out this article I wrote here.
The ‘experience economy’ term has been banded around for more than two decades. However, does your business really exploit all the sensory touchpoints at your disposal? Understanding this is key to why your customers choose to visit your physical premises, rather than ordering online.
As David says, it is a marriage of all the senses that make up your customer experience. What they see, what they hear, what they smell etc will be much more important post-lockdown, as businesses across the sector need to convince customers again of the value of physical experiences.
Over the coming weeks, Open Ear will be presenting numerous ways in which music can be a key driver to your business getting back to where it was pre-lockdown. A few other examples follow here, and we are more than happy to discuss these with you.
Following on from the above example, Arsenal FC have commissioned bespoke social distancing announcement messaging from two legends of the club, Dave Seaman and Lee Dixon. So instead of a bland nondescript message about COVID-19 responsibilities, customers will hear a more engaging audio message from two of their trusted heroes - a much more involved experience and one that might mean that they will adhere to the rules.
When it comes to ways to connect emotionally, Open Ear will be rolling out our Customer Connect package to all our customers, allowing them to get the ‘now-playing’ song display on their mobiles and then take home the playlist using a simple QR code. To enhance the experience further, we’ve pulled some of the best music personalities, DJs and curators on the planet who are willing to curate your playlists during this next period. You might not be able to afford a DJ, so perhaps you’d consider them as a curator for your weekend playlists.
Customer Connect has worked especially well during lockdown with some takeaway businesses - the likes of Pizza Punks printing the QR codes on their pizza boxes so customers can enjoy their musical brand experience at home. We will be offering this to all businesses to give your customers a novel brand touchpoint using your core music playlists.
Your customer and staff wellness is of paramount importance. Stress and anxiety levels will be on the rise post-COVID-19 and it is important that all businesses think about their wellness strategy. Open Ear will be launching our ‘Sound Wellness’ programme, consulting with businesses on how sound and music can be used to positively affect staff and customers alike. If you are interested in this, please get in touch and also read the article about ‘how to curate music for relaxation and meditation’ here.