How To Increase Customer Loyalty During Uncertain Times
If you run a business today or are thinking of starting one, you have many challenges on your plate.
Long gone are the days when you were simply competing with a local business down the street. Today, there are no geographical barriers to business.
Because of this new global reality brought about by technology, it is more complicated than ever to stand out in your market and win customers and clients.
And small businesses, in particular, are struggling even more due to the COVID crisis.
Customer loyalty is on the decline, which means you need smart strategies to reverse the trend within your own organization.
In this article, we will discuss various ways to ensure that customers stay loyal to your brand now and into the future. Let’s get started:
1. Align With Shifting Customer Needs
We are no longer living in an age where you can just “set up shop”, and customers will come through your doors day after day for decades.
This is especially true given the current crisis.
Customer demands shift rapidly, sometimes from day to day.
With the advent of the internet, your so-called loyal customers can simply purchase from another company that fits their needs in an instant.
So when your market can switch their loyalty in seconds, what can you do to ensure they stay with your company?
You align with their shifting needs in two ways:
- Customer Surveys and Outreach – You can send out surveys and questionnaires via email or hop on the phone. There is no better source than going directly to your customers to find out what they need.
- Marketing / Analytics Data – Surveys are an excellent start, but sometimes what people say and what they do doesn’t line up. Looking at the raw data will show you what they are actually responding to in terms of action.
2. Improve Customer Service
If you treat people well, they will want to stick around. But in these uncertain times, what does that mean?
It means you need to be even more diligent in looking at your customer service process and ways to improve it, such as:
- Speed – How fast are you serving your customers? Can you improve your shipping times? How about your email response times?
- Customize – Tailor your messaging to your customers’ needs. Perhaps different segments have different preferences about models, programs, and other aspects of your products and services.
- Customer Loyalty Programs – Points programs, premium memberships, and other bonuses that add value to your offer are a great way to boost customer loyalty.
3. Refining Marketing Goals
Buying habits change. Therefore, your marketing goals and strategies should adapt too.
Marketing starts with empathy, and that means meeting your customers “where they are.”
Be sensitive to the new economic realities brought about by this pandemic.
Some ways to improve your marketing goals and strategies include:
- Redesign Creative Assets for Online Use – Your billboards, signs, and in-store advertisements can be amplified if you convert them to online-friendly formats. Start thinking about the scalability of the web instead of just your local area.
- Lengthen the Sales Cycle – Your sales team might want to go for the sale each time they talk with someone. Or you might try to drive clicks directly to a sales page online. But in this pandemic, people might need more time to make their decision, so include more steps and go for the “soft sale” in your marketing efforts.
- Increase Promotional Activity – Some businesses don’t like to offer promotions or discounts. But 77% of consumers say discounts affect where they buy from.
Marketing is an ongoing exercise. It all depends on adjusting to the needs of your market. As long as you don’t stay stagnant, you can maintain customer loyalty in the long run.
4. Offer New Purchasing and Communication Channels
Have you heard business owners talk about how “technology” just isn’t their thing?
What they really mean is that money isn’t their thing. In these uncertain times, customers are communicating and purchasing in new ways.
Restaurants are embracing curbside pickup and delivery, retail stores are turning to eCommerce, and in-person salespeople are embracing video calls.
These are smart moves, as customers have been conditioned to do virtually everything on their phones today.
You can consider building an app to make sure your customers stay in touch and stay loyal. There are quite a few benefits to having an app:
- Push Notifications – Imagine being able to communicate directly to your customers whenever you want. You don’t need to go through any third party channels. Who doesn’t have their phone on them every hour of the day? That’s the power of SMS and in-app push notifications.
- Simplified Ordering – Have you ever gone to purchase something online and left the page because it was too confusing? You don’t want to lose customer loyalty because of something that is so easy to fix. Simplify ordering with fewer steps by having customers saving information right in your app. This also speeds up repeat purchases.
- COVID Safe – The fear of coronavirus is very real. It has caused many people to stay in their homes and conduct all purchases on their phones. By embracing the mobile app revolution, you are also strengthening your company against the pandemic.
- Tailored Experience – You can customize your branding, messaging, and ease of use of your app. Once you collect data, you can even customize what you show certain customers, such as promotions or one-time offers because of their previous buying habits.
If you don’t have an in-house developer team, you can simply outsource the development and maintenance to save you time and money.
No one can tell for sure how long the pandemic will last. Some habits that we’re acquiring now are bound to stay even after the pandemic has passed.
Investing in new channels now will likely continue to pay off well in the future.
We are living in unprecedented and uncertain times. Not only are global consumer habits shifting because of the internet and technology, but the coronavirus pandemic is a major challenge to overcome.
As consumers have restricted movement, income, and fear surrounding the state of the world, you need to assure them that you are the right business for them to be loyal to.
Of course, this is easier said than done.
Luckily, if you apply the tips above, you can engage your customers and build loyalty to get an edge over the competition and strengthen your bottom line.
Author Bio —
Ashley Wilson is a digital nomad and writer for hire, specialized in business and tech topics.
In her self-care time, she practices yoga via Youtube.
She has been known to reference movies in casual conversation and enjoys trying out new food. You can get in touch with Ashley via Twitter.