Market Overview

As Canadian companies continue to deal with COVID-19, focus needs to be on CFP - Customer Fear Perception - to survive


Great Customer Experience is now twinned with personal safety: TMG International 2020 CX report

TORONTO, Sept. 15, 2020 /CNW/ - When the global pandemic arrived in Canada, dealing a blow to businesses across every industry, survival became the top priority, followed closely by keeping customers safe. For many, that meant creating or enhancing online processes to address both concerns. However, ensuring a positive Customer Experience (CX) fell in terms of priorities.

That's according to the 2020 report commissioned by TMG International addressing the state of CX in Canada.

"When the coronavirus struck in March, and many businesses and provinces went into lockdown, companies struggled to maintain or improve their customer experience – with some even deciding it was not a priority in the face of the challenges of keeping their business afloat or dramatically and quickly changing service delivery," explained the report.

Customers, however, prioritized safety with all interactions. That could explain why retail e-commerce sales almost doubled to a record $3.9 billion in May, compared to $2 billion in February, according to a July 24, 2020 Stats Canada report. E-commerce was able to innately join CX with personal safety, demonstrating that customer experience is even more important than ever.

"But bricks and mortar can also effectively address the twinning of CX and personal safety," noted John Bardawill, Managing Director, TMG International. "It will take a consistent focus, however, to succeed. If bricks and mortar are not able to provide a great customer experience, especially around safety, they may not win back the hearts of Canadian shoppers," stated Mr. Bardawill. More than 20 large Canadian companies filed for creditor protection in May, including: David's Tea (switching to primarily e-commerce); J Crew, Pier 1 and Reitmans.

"From now on, everyone will be looking at every interaction with a business through the lens of personal safety," added Mr. Bardawill. "And companies need to quickly become familiar with the term CFP – customer fear perception. It is this perception that is first and foremost driving a customer's level of desire to consider a product or service. Companies must address this issue to win consumers' trust."

According to Mr. Bardawill, here's what companies need to do right now to survive COVID:

  • Understand that the customer's experience needs are evolving daily, but are still focused on reducing risk associated with the virus. 
  • Have a firm understanding of CFP – Customer Fear Perception. These perceptions are rooted in fear and risk and are driving customer behaviour like never before.
  • Identify opportunities that will lower the potential health risks for consumers and make it easier to access services.
  • Have a robust customer information gathering process due to the changing world of COVID.  This will allow companies to tweak services to meet customers' needs. 

Many companies, as noted in the CX report, decided that senior customer experience executives should be among the first to be furloughed when COVID hit. That was a huge mistake, according to Mr.Bardawill.

"How will companies survive the pandemic if not by providing standout customer experience?" Mr. Bardawill asks. "A loyal customer base will help a company survive almost any crisis. This pandemic is one of the worst crises companies can face."

Customers perceive services with less human interaction as the preferred customer experience approach today, the report notes, with online buying, home delivery and online video streaming services among the top-rated experiences.

The research report asked more than 80 medium to large size organizations – from February to March 2020 (private, public, crown corporations, government and non-profit) - questions about their CX focus. The report also asked 1,000 Canadian customers to share recent experiences with business to consumer organizations across a range of industries. In June 2020, a series of one-on-one interviews with senior leaders from a cross-section of Canadian organizations (or Canadian offices of international organizations) asked questions specifically focused on COVID-19 and how CX plans and expectations had changed.

Customer experience focuses on the ease of dealing with a company. The report measured factors such as communications clarity, flexibility, follow-up, consistency and turnaround as aspects of the customer experience that can strongly satisfy or deeply dissatisfy customers. These all combine to make a customer's overall interaction with a company easy and convenient – or not.

"Since the COVID crisis began, customers have stated that they need to feel safe to interact with a company as it helps them to feel valued. If a customer doesn't feel safe, they won't go back," he noted.

To view the complete State of CX in Canada – 2020 visit: 

About TMG International Inc.:

Founded in 1998, TMG International Inc. is a Toronto-based consulting firm focused on customer experience, strategy development, and change management. Unlike most strategic consulting firms, its customer experience consultants are proficient in both development and execution of customer-focused marketing, customer experience, and sales channel plans. TMG's strong corporate track records and depth of "real world" experience make the firm unique and benefits clients in a number of ways, such as implementation support and focus on tangible results. To learn more, visit

SOURCE TMG International Inc.

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