Maintaining relationships with people throughout the MCO period is not easy. But it is also not impossible to make it happen. Always have a positive mindset and ask yourself lots of questions. Why did this happen? How do I make it right? What method shall I use? Critical thinking is the biggest way to achieve your targets and objectives.
Nevertheless, we are here today to help you to open-up your vision and mind regarding this matter. Your customers may be staying at home or on self-quarantine, but that doesn't mean you can't stay connected and continue providing excellent service.
Over the past weeks, consumers have grown and being increasingly panicked about the pandemic. Store shelves are depleted of goods like toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Schools are closing, offices are urging employees to work from home and small businesses that rely on foot traffic are seeing their in-store sales take a hit. However, in our digital world, there are plenty of ways to stay connected to your customers through this pandemic and keep your business going through it.
Here are a few smart strategies for brick-and-mortar businesses to keep their audience engaged and stay in the loop, even if they're self-quarantined or avoiding public places.
1. Educate people on changes
Inform them of any changes to your business, such as new hours, facility closures, staff cutbacks, customer service availability, and ordering alternatives. While you may point to the emergency government requirements that forced these modifications, it's considerably better if you're seen as proactive and motivated by the best interests of your clients.
Companies like Lululemon and Apple, for example, anticipated forced shop closures and shuttered their locations before the government mandated it. They emailed their customer list to urge them to purchase online, highlighting their easy return policies and attentive contact centre, which could assist consumers with difficulties and queries.
2. Be convenient and accessible for your customers
Remember, even in this modern world, not all people are okay with fully digitalised business. Not people are born to know how to utilize technology excellently. It is our duty to make sure the technology or innovation that we made is easy for them to use. Why? This is because customers don’t really want to linger around too long. Not that they don’t have the time – the SOPs have just made it a little less convenient to ‘lepak’ as and when they like. As such, simplifying the buying process for your customers can help them make their decisions fast.
For example, if you own an F&B store, why not print out a large menu of best-selling items that don’t take too long to prepare? Or better yet, have sample boxes displayed at the front of your premise so that your customers don’t have to go through the hassle of flipping pages. All they need to do is to point and order.
All these are subjective to the kind of business you’re in, so take a look at where your decision-making bottleneck lies, and try to simplify it as best you can.
3. Transmogrify consumers' value upon your business.
Beyond assuring customers that your company’s existing value propositions will remain the same, tell them what innovations have arisen from dealing with the ongoing pandemic — after all, necessity is the mother of invention.
Inform your current consumers about new methods you're servicing them. Offer new items or services that answer a new problem to potential customers as a way to reach out to them. For example, to alleviate bread shortages in grocery stores, the hamburger business Fuddruckers opted to bake and sell loaves directly to customers.
Companies that implement these steps and inform consumers about them will give customers optimism as they see how businesses are working to improve their lives. This also has the added benefit of humanising a business.
4. Utilize data on your customers to further strategise your efforts
Running a business without analysing your audience is like chasing your own shadow in the dark.
Why not check into the data you have about your consumers now that your digital activities are up and running? Today's businesses, regardless of size or sector, rely heavily on data. This is because business owners now have a clear picture of whether their efforts were successful or not, and why. You can find the perfect approach to interact with your consumers and finally boost your chances of earning a sale by analysing your audience data.
At the end of the day, it all boils down to the fundamentals – understanding your customers first, and then tailoring your strategies accordingly. Knowing your customers will allow you to find the right ways to engage with them, including knowing how to angle your messages in a language that they understand, knowing how to target your ads to the right audience, and knowing how to give them what they need.
5. Do not forget the promotion!
Giving your customers an added advantage – be it a small discount or even a free dessert or free keychain will help with your business survival during this time. It’s also an investment in the long run, too. Promotions will help you collect more data on your customers, both new and existing. Much like in point #3, knowing them better will help you launch more successful promotions in the future. Rinse and repeat.
Some quick ideas for promotions during this time:
10% off total bill
Buy 3 Free 1 deals
Year end sale + membership deals
Discounted cash vouchers
Just remember to be tactful in this difficult time. Avoid using insensitive messaging such as asking your customers to spend their stimulus checks with you, or using voucher codes that literally spell ‘CORONAVIRUS’. Be extra careful with how you word your communications during this time, as it will be easy to look like you’re capitalizing on public fear and anxiety to push sales.
6. Focus on serving your customers remotely
You may already provide phone and email help to your consumers, but now is the time to expand your customer care skills and guarantee that your consumers can reach you from anywhere. You may provide the opportunity to talk via Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and other instant messaging systems on social media, which is an excellent place to start.
7. Let your customers advocate you
We live in a hyper-connected world where a single recommendation or complaint may have a significant influence on a company's bottom line. According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family above advertisements, while Ogilvy found that 74% of customers consider word of mouth to be a major factor in their purchase decisions.
Unfortunately, a vast majority of businesses still don’t actively seek out reviews or recommendations. In order to tap onto this, you need to first have a great product. Keep the buying process as simple and as fast as possible for the customer, and go above and beyond for your customers if they ever need your help.
Finally, it wouldn't hurt to provide your consumers a reason to post a review. Oxwhite, a lifestyle company, does a good job of keeping consumers coming back to spend more by offering an RM5 discount on their next purchase if they post a review on their website.
In Conclusion, the main key here is to signal that your company is taking ownership of the situation, as much as possible, rather than allowing the situation to take ownership of your company and its valued customers.
With the right customer-centric attitude and an awareness of what people need right now, companies can emerge from this crisis having strengthened their relationships with customers. Give consumers your HEART during this difficult time. It will cultivate long-lasting goodwill with past customers and help ensure they will stay with you in the future.