Customer loyalty is the act of continuously choosing services and products of a specific company instead of their competitor’s products. Loyal customers usually don’t care about price or availability. They prefer to pay more and get the same quality product and service they are used to.
Acquiring new customers, on the other hand, costs more, and they don’t spend as much money as repeat customers. That’s why repainting customers can help your business grow and increase customer loyalty.
10 Ways to Increase Customer Loyalty in Time of Crisis
Even though companies might take a short-term hit during times of crisis, supporting your customers through this crisis can improve customer engagement and loyalty, and benefit your company in the long-term.
Communicate with customers
Let your customers know that you appreciate them and care about them, even if they buy less during times of crisis. Take into account that B2B customers usually have their own customers, which means that your communication can reach a greater audience. Moreover, working closely with customers during difficult times can create stronger bonds that will last for years.
Communicate with your employees
Customer-facing employees to provide an uninterrupted service, or advise and solve different issues. Therefore, these employees need to understand the operational processes of reducing possible transmission of the coronavirus. They are the ones that need to explain to customers how to sanitize their workspaces.
Develop new ways of working with customers
Sales and service employees need to travel often for in-person meetings with customers. Therefore, organizations need to educate them on the risk of virus spreading when traveling to impacted areas. Organizations will probably need to change their business traveling policies due to COVID-19. People are getting used to working from home, and organizations will have to accelerate the move to remote working environments.
Agile project management tools and processes can also help your customer-facing teams collaborate, and detect problems. Agile methods that can include working into sprints, holding 10- to 20-minute stand-up meetings twice a day, and using online task boards with daily updates.
Technology like Augmented Reality (AR) can help keep people healthy and safe during times of crisis. For instance, you can use AR to guide customers on new processes with easy-to-follow visual instructions. AR can help customers install new parts of a product, set up a new product, and even maintain products. In addition, machine learning technologies like chatbots can perform human tasks such as customer support, answering questions, checking inventories, and recommending items.
Assess your orders, inventory, and service levels
Companies that use inventory to fulfill customer orders need to compare the existing orders against confirmed incoming shipments. Then, they need to inform customers if they still can deliver the goods and provide delivery dates.
Naturally, there will be disruption to your supply chain during times of crisis. These disruptions will affect your customers. However, assessing your orders and organizing your inventory can help manage your customers’ expectations.
Create content that informs and engages
There is a reason why many claim that “content is king”. Online content can bring awareness to your brand and help you connect with potential and existing customers. However, not all content is kingly. You need to make sure the content you publish has value and is in demand.
For example, you can publish podcasts, webinars, and online tutorials to teach your customers something that addresses their needs in times of crisis. Another popular type of content is online events or live video streams, but make sure you are informing and engaging enough to sustain your viewer’s attention.
Optimize the mobile experience
During the lockdown, people tend to use smartphones a lot more than usual, especially the younger generation. According to a Global Web Index report, 70% of smartphone users say that they are spending more time on their smartphones during the coronavirus lockdown. This report was based on data collected between March 16 and 20 from 13 countries.
Therefore, website owners need to make their smartphone customer experience as smooth as possible. In addition, retailers should encourage brick-and-mortar customers to shop online or via mobile app. To improve customer experience, even more, online stores can provide personalized offers or discounts for making an eCommerce purchase.
Extend return deadlines
Getting to the post office or UPS location to return deliveries from online stores is harder in times of crisis. However, strict return policies shouldn’t prevent your customers from shopping online. Flexible delivery policies can encourage customers to continue making online orders, and also produce positive feelings about your brand.
Inform your customers on how COVID-19 has affected your business
The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting all types of businesses, but each industry is soldering different types of challenges. If your business is undergoing major changes, keep an open channel of communication with your customer.
Leverage transparency to strengthen your relationship with customers and keep them informed.
You can reach out via social media platforms, send bulk emails, or upload a video. Whichever medium you choose, keep your customers updated constantly about any changes to your services. Even if there’s not much change, it’s a good idea to recognize the crisis and show your support for the front-liners.
Customer Loyalty in Time of Crisis: Real-Life Examples
Despite the loss of revenue during times of crisis, some companies decided to help people in the short-term, potentially helping the company in the long-term.
- Woolworth’s—an Australian supermarket that promotes dedicated shopping times for elderly and disabled customers during the COVID-19 crisis. Woolworth’s enabled vulnerable populations to get their basic necessities during the period of panic buying.
- Allstate and American Family—insurance companies announced that they will refund a portion of customer’s car insurance premiums. These companies mentioned that people are driving less due to lockdown orders. This was a way to help ease some of the financial strains of their customers.
- Scholastic—an education and media company recognized the difficult task of remote schooling. In response, the company created an online library of virtual lesson plans to help teachers minimize the disruption to student’s education.
- U-Haul—the storage and moving company helped college students who were ordered to leave their dormitories on short notice due to the spread of COVID-19. The company offered any college students in Canada and the U.S. a month of free storage.
Best Practices to Prepare for the Post-COVID-19 Business World
The behavior of businesses is changing due to COVID-19. Obviously, many of those behaviors will remain long after the defeat of the virus. Follow these best practices to prepare your business for the post-Covid-19 world.
Use this crisis to improve processes and systems
Times of crisis can significantly reduce your cash flow. Instead of panicking about the outcomes of the crisis, you need to improve your internal systems and procedures to get more out of your existing assets. For example, you can change your sales pipeline to improve sales or improve your website conversion rate to get more leads with the same amount of traffic.
Business leaders should look at market downturns like this as the chance to find new methods and solutions.
Reimagine your brick-and-mortar strategy
The world of brick and mortar may be fundamentally different when stores reopen. During the crisis, customers have grown comfortable with remote, and digital options, even in older populations.
Omnichannel fulfillment options such as online shopping and pick up in stores have increased. Some brick-and-mortar stores have even converted to “dark stores” for fulfillment only. Therefore, retailers need to leverage online, mobile, and geospatial data to optimize omnichannel sales and networks. They should also examine the activity across digital channels, wholesale partners, and owned outlet stores.
Modify your business hours
Shorter business hours may be necessary for both essential businesses that were open during the lockdown and non-essential businesses that plan to reopen soon. Post Covid-19 times require more time for cleaning and scaling back nonpeak business operations to control labor costs. Many businesses also have dedicated senior-only shopping times. Make sure to post the changes to your business hours in your physical location, as well as on your website and social media.
COVID-19 challenges force leaders to think outside the box, create new strategies, and reimagine business plans. Your original 2020 plans are clearly not relevant anymore. You need to re-plan and prioritize strategies and tactics in all critical areas.
This could include sales, marketing, manufacturing, communications, development, and customer service. Understanding what your customers will value in the post-COVID-19 business world and acting on it will ensure your survival and success and put you ahead of major competitors.
As the world joins forces to contain the current COVID-19 crisis, businesses are concerned about customer satisfaction. The two fundamentals of customer loyalty, confidence, and trust are being put to the test. While this is a temporary situation, people are scared, and anxiety is high. This global crisis is truly about customer moments that matter. By putting your customers’ interests first, this can be a time for your company’s brand to lead. Although your business might suffer from a short-term hit, putting pricing, flexible refund, and change policies in place, can be beneficial to the long-term health of your company.
Author Bio: Gilad David Maayan
Gilad David Maayan is a technology writer who has worked with over 150 technology companies including SAP, Imperva, Samsung NEXT, NetApp, and Ixia, producing technical and thought leadership content that elucidates technical solutions for developers and IT leadership. Today he heads Agile SEO, the leading marketing agency in the technology industry.
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