COVID-19 has challenged business owners to build and maintain relationships with customers — As the pandemic forces people into a digital-only life, it’s important for businesses to infuse virtual experiences with a human touch to connect with their customers.
Vast number of companies across industries find it extremely difficult to generate any sales while respecting the uncertainty faced by customers. No one seems to know the best way to retain customer loyalty amid changing consumer preferences and priorities.
But all is not lost. Whether you own a small or large business; online or offline, there is a lot to do to reconnect with your customers now and post-COVID-19. The following are strategies we think that business owners can leverage on.
1. Use Multiple Channels to Reach Out to Customers
The best way to keep customers around is to reach out to them through channels they use regularly, such as EDM, social media, and texts. If your customers are using social media sites such as Instagram and Facebook heavily, please make sure you find them there. Instead of passively waiting for your customers to reach out to you, proactively go out and engage. After all, you will be surprised at how well you can bond with them.
2. Develop an Effective Loyalty Program
Maintaining customer relationships is as important as expanding your business. If you wish to have a firm grip on your customers, you should seek to reward them for being loyal to your brand. For example, introducing a membership award program not only can attract new customers, but also retain existing ones.
Another method to incentivize your customers could be offering discounts, coupons, or product bundles to make your products and services more affordable. Also, it’s important to keep CRM in mind which can help you turn prospective customers into loyalty program members.
3. Start by Nurturing Organic Traffic
Say, you have started business operations, and you already have a steady flow of organic traffic. Most people would be tempted to start implementing paid advertisements on search engines or social media. That’s good, but at the same time, keep working on improving conversions and user experience is still crucial. Ensure you have a strategy to build and cultivate a vibrant email list. Of course, as your business starts to do well, you can move on to social media ads and search engine marketing (SEM).
4. Create Social Media Contents that Are Useful and Empathetic
During COVID-19, many brands are upping their content marketing investments, ignoring Covid-19 or pretending everything is normal can be inauthentic. Let your customers know you acknowledge this is a difficult timing, even a simple “stay well and look out for one another…” can go a long way in showing that you care. Also, turn your social media into a valuable resource for your audience, focusing on engagement first, and provide value by shifting your overall content strategy to address social distancing, or create educational content for your audience.
Take SHOPLINE for example, we have created a lot of e-commerce webinars on Facebook LIVE to stay in touch with our merchants, and engage with them through sharing SHOPLINE’s latest features and Q&A sessions, to let them know we’re still available to them, and we’re here to help.
It is not enough to wait for customers to raise issues before reaching out to them—Post relevant information on your site or social media to promote transparency. Provide necessary information, such as product listings, pricing information, and company details. Avoid encouraging customers to look for information elsewhere. With that, your customers will be able to trust you and your products.
5. Provide Timely Customer Support
Customers are going to reach you with issues concerning the product they have just purchased, or the delayed order caused by COVID-19. How will you handle their issue is the million dollar question, given that your response will determine if you retain the customer or you don’t. Besides providing them with timely support, also let them know you’re working on to address their problems, or coming up with a reimbursement plan to let your customers know that you are working on to make them satisfied.
Use customer support as a way of acquiring and retaining customers. If you are in a highly-competitive industry, that can be your competitive advantage. Listen to what the customer has to say and offer a viable solution. Your customer support team isn’t meant to just collect information. Instead, they are here to provide solutions to customer problems. Empower them to do just that.
6. Build Your Brand and Sell Experience
COVID-19 can be especially cruel to your business. But it can also be a turning point to differentiate your business, the business world is so competitive that everyone wants to do what others are doing. If you employ copycat tactics, you will not go very far. Instead, learn to distinguish yourself by building a strong brand, which will last for very long.
These are good times to revisit and examine the defined value for your business. Consider that the best emotional engagement from customers is generated through real and authentic experience, during this time you shouldn’t over-concentrate on selling the product. Pay attention to your customer. Give your customers such a unique experience that they would have no excuse to buy from your competitors.
As you implement the suggested strategies, remember that customer service is a continuous process. You have to keep working on it to retain your customers. So, be prepared to keep going for the long-haul. After all, you are in a marathon – not a sprint.