A few months ago, a virtual consultation with your dentist may not have been possible. But in response to the impact of COVID-19, many businesses have become digital-first by necessity.
To do this well, brands need to rethink what their customers’ pain points are and how their business is uniquely positioned to help alleviate them. This means businesses will need to examine all of their customer touchpoints and make thoughtful and efficient trade-offs that prioritize a digital consumer experience.
Help Your Customers Transition to Digital
Now is the time to offer flexible ways for your customers to engage with your business. Consider what digital tools you may need to introduce to your customer experience, such as online chat services and video conferencing. What’s needed to keep things moving for your business? For example, many of our customers have had to expand their capacity to support self-service and digital sales, and have introduced new technology in order to do so.
“40–60% of consumers who’ve adopted digital and ‘low-touch’ solutions—including curbside pickup, video conferencing and telemedicine—intend to continue to use them even after the new normal.”
According to Accenture, “Companies that are able to adapt to and utilize new virtual tools and models will achieve competitive advantages, both short and long term.” In fact, 40–60% of consumers who’ve adopted digital and “low-touch” solutions—including curbside pickup, video conferencing and telemedicine—intend to continue to use them even after the new normal.
When you’ve identified what you need, create a plan for how your company will get customers acquainted with the new technology. You may need to put a team in charge of onboarding your customers, or a short how-to video may do the job.
If your website is key to your business strategy, make sure it’s optimized for mobile and organic search. According to Hubspot, optimizing your site for mobile is the most beneficial SEO tactic to improve your website’s performance and rank in search engine results.
If you have an app, you can send customers from an email or SMS communication directly to a specific point in the app experience using mobile deep links. This way, users can more easily make purchases, schedule appointments, view their account information, or do whatever it is they need to do from within your app.
Adapt a “Customer First” Mindset
Supporting your customers in times of crisis requires a “customer first” mindset. This means that your entire organization is focused on delivering the best possible customer experience, and remains adaptable, communicative and reliable.
Revisit your company mission and think about how you need to adapt your business strategy during this time to put your customers first. Consumers expect brands to be more flexible and to offer extra support right now—and they look more favorably on businesses that go above and beyond to offer it. In a recent study, well over half of people surveyed say they are most in favor of brands responding to the pandemic by providing flexible payment terms (83%) and offering free services (81%).
“A simple ‘I hope you’re doing well. Please let me know how I can support you.’ is a gesture that can go a long way in building customer trust and loyalty.”
Keep the communication flowing with your customers, especially if they’re used to having face-to-face time with your company. Empower your customer-facing teams to make meaningful connections with your customers during this time. While people’s inboxes are flooded with pandemic-related communications from brands, a simple “I hope you’re doing well. Please let me know how I can support you.” is a gesture that can go a long way in building customer trust and loyalty.
Relatedly, be selective about your marketing promotions and prioritize communications that will provide the most value to your customers during this time. Adjust the timelines of the marketing campaigns and content you had scheduled, and consider pivoting your messaging. For example, “Win new customers” can be “Support your customers,” and “Come see what’s new” can be “Shop safely online.”
Make Thoughtful, Efficient Tradeoffs
What you had planned for Q2 of this year has likely changed. Your priorities have shifted—they’ve had to—in response to consumer behavior, government regulations and so on. Be ready to put off what you had planned in order to focus on what’s going to make a real difference for your customers right now.
Are you willing to forgo some immediate business to launch a better online payment tool? Lose some money in order to offer a free trial of your product? Postpone that pre-planned marketing campaign in favor of creating more timely communications? Consider what tradeoffs your company will need to make to put customers first and plan for the post-pandemic future.
No one can know exactly what the next six months has in store, but one thing is certain: the impact of COVID-19 isn’t going away over night.
Businesses must be able to adapt to the rippling effects the pandemic has had on consumers and be ready to connect and engage with customers meaningfully through frictionless virtual experiences. Those that can transition effectively will have a head start on the new digital-first normal.
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