We have all enjoyed the thrill and action of dystopian and sci-fi movies. 2020 seems to be snatched out of such a film, however, nobody really wants to live this reality. With a deadly virus and no vaccine, this year has understandably built fear in people’s minds. Social distancing, self-isolation, and masks have altered our daily lifestyles. And customer habits have mirrored the intense change in everyday living.
As consumer behaviour changes, so must a business. To gain and retain consumers during a pandemic, every organisation must rethink their sales and consumer outreach strategies. They must satiate the customers’ concerns with more fervour than before. Customer experience consultant and advisor, Adrian Swinscoe weighs in on the issue of winning over buyers in a pandemic:
“The pandemic has caused some major shifts in customer behaviour. We are not sure, as yet, how much of it will stick.
However, what we have seen is that customers have gravitated towards brands and organisations that have both looked after their people and their suppliers and have sought to be helpful and valuable to their customers rather than just being focused on the next sale. With economic conditions set to tighten for many in the coming months, it will be these traits that will stand brands in good stead in the fight to win new and retain existing customers.”
For obvious reasons, no customer would ever want to be considered just as a transaction. With the current circumstances, businesses’ intentions are being put to the test and the only way to succeed is by showing the buyers that they hold a valuable position in the brand’s eye.
The first step towards catering to your customers in a pandemic is promising them that you take their health and safety seriously. For this, several brands have come up with marketing campaigns that bring awareness to the measures they are taking for the same.
Sanitisation practices and health systems are being highlighted for the benefit of the consumer. Direct-to-door deliveries, online shopping and other convenient purchase systems have become increasingly popular. One way to assure buyers of your trustworthy and health-conscious actions is by voice broadcasting calls or bulk SMSs. You can emphasise the favourable aspects of your business and provide new buying options.
While pacifying buyers may be your primary concern, it is just as vital to lend an ear. Consumer expectations in 2020 are different from what you might have forecast. The unforeseen circumstances dawned upon the industries so suddenly that many businesses quickly lost their footing. To get a better idea of market demand, companies must listen to their shoppers. Feedback and surveys can help with the initial understanding of the same.
Voice broadcasts followed by IVR or Interactive Voice Response systems offer menus that allow your consumers to give keyboard inputs to your questions.
“…Businesses of all sizes would be well advised to pay heed to the customer behavioural changes that we have observed during the pandemic i.e. customers gravitating to brands that look after their people and suppliers and are seen as being more helpful, trusted and less ‘sales-y’.”
Your customer service representatives are on the frontline when it comes to communication with your buyers. Bad user experience can lead to a decline in sale and loyalty but bad reviews build a negative brand image. The latter can be disincentivising for any new lead. Hence, customer service should be a well-managed department in times like these.
In recent months, cancellations of events and restrictions in delivery have caused a storm of calls at every contact centre. A high volume of calls often leads to longer waiting time for the customers. And the waiting queue with the repetitive and monotonous music often frustrates the best of us.
To avoid such annoying waitlists, businesses can utilise the music on hold feature, which not only allows the user to add any music of their choice, but they can also put informational or promotional messages for the customers while they wait in the queue.
It is not enough to simply attend the calls you receive. You must also ensure that the quality of service provided is unparalleled. For this purpose, you can enable the call recording feature and analyse every conversation with your customer service representative.
The betterment of an employee is a positive shift for an organisation. Keep your consumers satisfied by promising them a satisfactory call; monitor each interaction with an administrative dashboard.
Getting rid of the seemingly-never ending wait time is much easier with an IVR that reroutes calls to the most-suited agent for addressing the query. With the addition of AI and chatbots, you can direct traffic to other channels and online platforms as well.
Cloud telephony also lends several features for data gathering. Using machine learning, you can analyse the requests of customers and track their queries. By learning and understanding this information, you can serve them better and also make changes to your products and services.
Once you have delivered on their requests and recommendations, don’t forget to follow up. You can ask for feedback and even suggest some other products they may like.
With this simple action, you have established that your relationship with your consumers does not end after the financial transaction. It encourages brand loyalty and increases visibility for your brand and products simultaneously. When you receive criticism, ensure that you make amendments accordingly and convey that you take your buyers’ advice seriously.
You cannot retain sales if people do not remember your brand. Brand visibility must be consistently focused on. Instead of traditional media, become more active on social media. The quarantine has driven hordes of people seeking entertainment to the Internet.
Social media platforms give you an opportunity to be seen by millions of eyes. An important tip: do not limit your posts and messages to your brand and its products. Speak up on social and emotional issues. Customers enjoy brands that have an impactful message. A thought-provoking video is likely to be shared many more times than a product advertisement.
Finally, encourage an unbeatable reward system. You can offer personalised discounts to your regular customers, or promise additional rewards to new customers. The former flatters the person and makes them feel cherished by your organisation. The latter essentially means that you will help them by reducing costs if they remain committed to purchasing from your brand.
The Bottom Line
There are several unpredictable circumstances that can affect business continuity—the pandemic is just one such example. However, the show must go on. Businesses must aim to increase and expand their consumer base and the only way to do so is by being smart about it.
Companies and products that have been popular this year may lose their traction when things fall back into normalcy. To predict the future trajectory of your firm, you must look to your user base. Their opinions can guide you to success. Adrian Swinscoe sums it up with this quote:
“…Given the economic downturn that seems to be coming our way, all business would do well to pay heed to these behavioural changes and make sure that they prioritise, focus on and protect the customers that they have rather than resorting to trying to ‘sell’ their way out of trouble.”