Most businesses have undergone the loss in COVID-19 pandemic and millions of talented workforce were rendered jobless. It is time to move beyond the losses and be scared of the future. We have seen how predicting too far out does no good and, instead, helps customers reach their goals.
Now is the time to get back on the feet and add value to everyone in the ecosystem. Remember, you are serving customers who have suffered financial consequences for COVID-19. Start empathizing with these people and listen to them carefully for developing a customer-first mindset.
The crisis brings out the best and the worst among people in the business. Only those excel who are able to tackle the situation and build a great customer relationship. And the coronavirus pandemic is not just any crisis. The “locked down” nature of the response to this crisis forces most people to be physically separated from their friends, extended family, workplace, and favorite places. And when their customer comes to you with a hope of a solution, listen to them and create a personal connection. Even if your team is present, be at the forefront and hear them out.
How Can Entrepreneurs Develop A Customer First Mindset?
While we are now familiar with the pandemic and its repercussions, the next step is to gear up for the future — says Milosz Krasinski MD at Chillifruit. A fearless yet cautious entrepreneurial journey begins with care and gradually knowing more about your current and prospective customers. This is also about how well you can invest yourself today and demonstrate agility to cope with new normal without putting a selfish motive for instant growth. In fact, customer-centric companies are profitable.
Let’s dig in further to explore yourself better in the coming times.
1. Trade the ‘care’ — for customers and employees.
Reach out to the people who matter the most to your business — customers and employees. When you connect with customers, don’t go with an intent to sell in the first place. In fact, focus on solving either real or perceived problems that affect the performance of your customer. There are plenty of organizations who are doing this from time to time, in a pandemic or otherwise.
For example, how Ford came up with the “Built to Lend a Hand” campaign that helps buyers credit support for the first three months and subsequent payment relief.
Manufacturers in Canada are moving to touchless controlled entry to their premises. Startups are taking up the challenge to help them take care of their employees and customers by offering solutions in this space. One recent example is the Welcome App by Factory Bucket in collaboration with Excellence in Manufacturing Consortium (EMC).
In the event of COVID-19, many students were affected when the pandemic broke out. That’s when U-Haul, moving equipment and a storage rental company, offered all students a 30-day free storage help. Remember, these are the experiences people will remember you for in the future, and your simple act of generosity can reap dividends if done with pure intent.
This means you will have to look after your employees like never before as they are going through tough times, managing multiple responsibilities. While asking employees to take pay cuts is usual amidst pandemic, try to not take that harsh step of firing someone. The best you could do is help them find a job within your network if you go that way.
Your care to employees transfers to the customers. Being good with employees in tough times will transcend beyond your team and pass on to your customers as well.
2. Virtual Hangouts with Customers.
Remember, the need for the business going digital, customers needed in-house on-demand services. Digital-led interactions will continue to rise in popularity after the coronavirus is quelled, and businesses that move quickly and evolve in their distribution model to help customers handle the pandemic safely and efficiently will create a definite advantage.
Know where your customers hang out and be there. This means exploring all the possible social platforms and finding your real users there to communicate your ideas. If they are on Instagram, be there, do the live sessions, post interactive video content, or even slide into their DMs to check up. Trust me, this will pay off magnificently provided you don’t make that your sole intent.
Jeremy Moser, CEO at uSERP, used the following strategy with success: “Try holding bi-weekly video meetings where you connect with other entrepreneurs in your space. Find Slack channels and connect with people. You’d be surprised at how many connections you can build, and subsequent referrals you will generate from just networking, virtually!“
You can use social media schedulers like RecurPost to automatically promote such sessions in advance to increase the number of attendees. It is a well known fact that multiple touchpoints reinforce your message. Just keep in mind that your message should sell the meeting or the webinar and not your product.
Next, try to digitize your offerings by enabling customers to reach you in a meaningful manner using technology. If you are a brick and mortar business owner, take this moment as a wakeup call. Invest in mobile apps and website development to build a digital connection with your customers.
The idea is to remain available at their comforts, so you’ll need more intuitive ways to engage them. How about running a free delivery offer? Or, maybe gifting them sanitizers and masks with every purchase. Such initiatives go a long way when you show customers you really care. It helps you build loyalty for the brand.
3. Weaving the future bonds by investing your ‘today’.
While this pandemic has done some irreversible damage, it has also done some good. Now, the entire humanity can share the same pain and we all have a story to tell. Each one of us possesses our share of suffering and the winner in us. This is what connects us now. Such emotional realities hold even between the customers and businesses, redefining the way how customers connect with the brand.
We are now in the new era of unlearning the old while learning the true meaning of collaboration and meaningful interaction. This will put people first and let you invest your time, not money, to make relationships. Every entrepreneur is a leader by heart who adapts the adversaries and leads the change positively by taking it one day at a time.
The problem is that the future is distributed unevenly and you have the power today to make it available to everyone. Thanks to technology, this task is simplified further for companies to start leveraging the availability of resources that simplify customers’ lives.
See how insurance companies are also evolving in current times with telehealth approvals, allowing insurers to reimburse the fees paid to virtual doctor appointments. This will remain so for the times to come and such breakthrough evolutions are now possible with the world gradually adapting the new normal.
Now is the time for entrepreneurs to invest in innovations. Businesses have started to cater to the digital customer like never before to know them personally. Your response to the pandemic in current time will speak a lot about you, so make sure you keep a close watch on your actions.
4. Creating business touchpoints adhering to the new normal.
The time has come to translate the physical channel into a digital one or make the former a contactless one. The US witnessed an increase in preference for contactless operations, with numerous industries adapting to this change. For instance, Meituan was the first brand to initiate the contact-less delivery in Wuhan when the COVID-19 broke out in China.
Now, you can opt for creating a meaningful touchpoint that goes beyond the face value and enable brands to connect better with the prospective buyers. For now, restaurants are creating an online menu for food and grocery stores are allowing the shoppers to choose their desired items from a product list. Moreover, they are also offering free, contact-less delivery that follows sanitization protocol.
You have the power as an entrepreneur to translate these new normal values to customers, be it offering free gloves and sanitizer packs when they come from shopping to install plexiglass “sneeze guards” at cash counters.
5. Look beyond instant growth.
Many businesses are looking to refocus the priorities, goals, and pivot resources effectively for crisis survival. If you have not considered how the pandemic will immediately or in the future affect your business, then you need to begin to do so now.
Such evaluation would impact the factors that you can control to keep running the business operations seamlessly. Instead of pushing hard on fast sales, add value to your existing customer base and profit from it.
Concentrating on attracting customers at the expense of the current ones will produce a funnel effect, whereby a new company flows while as many customers go somewhere else. This will drive businesses into a loop of deeper and deeper discounts, which will inevitably dry up and draw new customers into their pool.
Forrester research demonstrates that it can cost new customers five times more to convert than current customers, expanding and building existing loyalty is much easier than tapping a new customer base, particularly in challenging times.
Therefore, there cannot be a better time than now to adopt customer experience (CX) as a growth strategy. That said, let not the growth FOMO drive you frenzy in dire times, instead, build your business on robust fundamentals that can help you scale when the good times are back.
Regardless of what business you are in, the greater success depends on how fast you can adapt to the changes. Make no mistake; these business communication shifts are not your usual jumps but will leave a lasting impact on your business. The coming years will narrate the story of how well you managed the ship during the storm, keeping your cool and moving confidently in the right direction can make a world of difference.
This is truly a coming of age for the entrepreneurs and businesses across the globe. Write your story by keeping your customers as your protagonist, and there is no way it can go wrong.