The impact of COVID-19 has undoubtedly changed the way we live, work and interact. Many businesses, both big and small, are feeling the effects of the pandemic and as a result, they’re adapting. Whether it’s their marketing strategies, product offerings or new technologies — they are pivoting, and pivoting quickly, writes Kat Warboys, Head of Marketing ANZ Hubspot.
Through times of uncertainty, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s important, and now, more than ever, businesses need to have a clear strategy. The most successful companies are those who implement a customer-first approach, with the customer at the heart of everything they do.
HubSpot user, Weploy, is a prime example of a business doing this well. Traditionally a marketplace for hiring on-demand, they launched a new, free platform, designed to help workers who have been stepped down during the pandemic to find new roles quickly. It’s these strategies that will help see businesses through to the other side.
Treating customers like a person, not a persona
During these turbulent times, businesses need to invest in customer relationships. A crisis like the one we’re experiencing now puts both the strengths and weaknesses in your customer relationships under a spotlight. No matter what type of business you run — your most important stakeholders right now are your customers, and how you communicate with them has never been more important. The key to doing this right is to keep all interactions meaningful and human.
It’s imperative to remember that when you send an email, pick up the phone, or respond to a customer enquiry that you are never communicating with a persona. You are communicating with a person. Respecting their individuality and uniqueness is how you will grow better. This might mean laying off the promotional push in your communications with customers, and instead focusing on providing them with helpful information and offerings. Being respectful of your customers and the circumstances they could be facing will help maintain their trust and loyalty.
Customer behaviours are also changing. This means, unfortunately, that even some of your most loyal customers will need to make the hard decision to leave. There’s nothing more annoying from a customer’s perspective than signing up to a product or service and struggling to unsubscribe. If you block the exit when customers try to leave or discontinue service, this often leaves a negative impact and significantly decreases the chances of the customer returning.
How you interact with your customers during these times of economic uncertainty will define your business in the hearts of your customers for months to come.
Ask for feedback, and act on it
As we enter new territory, it’s essential to be asking for customer feedback and acting on it. You need to know what questions are running through their minds; what concerns, fears and doubts are keeping them up at night. The easiest way to get the answers to these questions is simply to ask. Remember, the absence of a customer complaint is not a compliment, and the absence of feedback does not always mean you have a fan.
HungryHungry, an Aussie business reinventing the hospitality ordering experience, is a prime example of a company who listened to feedback and solved for their customers. With cafes, restaurants and bars no longer open for in-venue dining, their ‘at the table’ ordering technology was put on hold. Many of their customers shifted to take-away only, and in response, HungryHungry worked around the clock to build an online ordering platform to support them.
Embracing the now
Businesses who keep their customers front of mind and ensure they listen and act will be the ones to successfully connect with customers and build lasting relationships that go beyond the current situation. Even in survival mode, the trust you have with your customers is your greatest asset. You will likely need to make sacrifices and changes to the way you market, engage, sell and serve — but it is the relationship you have built with your customers that will see you through these hard times.