With the future uncertain and most things still up in the air, it is more important than ever for companies to consider their customers. We have seen through this pandemic that companies that previously invested in building authentic communities and relationships with their customers fared better. Customers who are emotionally invested in a brand are more likely to be loyal and to want to support that business when times get tough.
One thing we know for sure – customer needs have shifted and will continue to do so. How do companies deal with today and be ready for a future that is uncertain at best? Authenticity and realism.
Knowing who you are and staying true to that, no matter what, will serve you in the long run. Conversely, burying your head in the sand, “staying the course” and “hoping” for the best is not a workable solution.
Your business must adapt without losing sight of itself. Here are a few things to consider:
Without question, every business’ number one concern should be safety. If you can’t keep your employees and your customers safe, you don’t open. Period.
Find ways to connect with your customers while they’re at home. Think outside the box and find unique ways to brighten the day of people stuck at home. Know who you are, stay true to that, and as long as it fits with your brand, have a little fun!
There are countless examples of companies being completely tone deaf. “We know times are tough but how ‘bout a new truck”? We get it, times are tough for auto manufacturers too, but that’s not going to cut it. One example that I love of a company that is doing it right is Kraft’s #supportlocal campaign. Here’s a huge company that has taken their existing peanut butter ad buys and given them to small local businesses. Small entrepreneurs are literally recording “ads” on their iPhones and those messages are being broadcast in Kraft’s commercial slots. Where I may not have had an opinion one way or the other about Kraft previously, I would now choose one of their products over another company because of that gesture.
Convenience has always been important to customers and in the times of COVID, it has become everything. While making things easy for customers is the goal, it shouldn’t come at the expense of personal interaction. I recently braved Whole Foods to pick up some Mother’s Day flowers – they are my go to flower stand, and had great processes in place to deal with the Mother’s Day volume during COVID. Sadly, the next day the flowers were wilting. I shot a pic of them to @WholeFoods. They referred me to their customer service online chat and within minutes I had someone on the case and offering a solution. I didn’t have the receipt with me, but he sent me an email, so when I got home I could reply with a copy and they would issue a credit immediately. It gets better… Before I’d even got home, I had an email from the Store Manager telling me how sorry she was and asking the specifics, so she could make sure they removed the in store flowers, so it didn’t happen to anyone else and giving me the option of either a credit or a gift card. The total was rounded up and a gift card issued ultimately for more than I’d spent. Not only was it easy, but I felt valued and like there was a person in my specific store who was concerned about her product and my happiness as a customer. While I was disappointed with the flowers, I will without question keep going back if that’s how they stand behind their product.
Plan to Come Back
Having a clear understanding of costs and attainable revenue when you reopen is key. Beyond that it’s important to be creative and find ways to do business differently. An example that I love is Fig Facial in Vancouver. They offer a membership for monthly 30 minute facials and have a significant following. They have obviously been shut down during Phase 1 but have been doing contactless product deliveries to customers doorsteps etc. While aesthetic services like spas remain shut down in Phase 2, Fig has come up with a way to offer what amounts to a self-serve facial. One client at a time in the space. One employee. Sample packets of the products that you apply yourself. The light machine set and ready to go, so all you have to do is press the button. Is it the same as their typical offering? Nope, but even so it felt pretty heavenly to be able to do something so simple.
Without a doubt the coming months are going to be challenging. The key to success is staying true to who you are, being smart about the numbers, keeping your focus on the customer, and being poised to pivot at any point. We’re all in it together!
Reach out if we can help!