Living in unprecedented times can generally demand that unprecedented action needs to be taken. How are businesses not only trying to stay afloat but making sure that their hard earned customers and clients will still be there when things return to a relative normalcy? In a recent research piece published by The Harvard Business Review, great pains have been taken to isolate those strategies that will work best for all businesses, regardless of size, to get back in the game and to keep those customer bonds as strong as ever. The following is taken directly from that published research:
- Humanize your company – Let consumers know that your company understands the dire social circumstances at play and cares about more than simply reaping profit during this difficult time. Empathize with those affected by Covid-19, and spell out the steps you are taking to help customers, employees, and other stakeholders. Your company’s social media sites and customer mailing lists are ideal vehicles for doing this. In communicating to your customer about what you can offer them, keep your message brief and classy. Although consumers certainly care about the “softer side” of your business, don’t overplay it. Ultimately customers will care most about the value you create for them. Also, expressing too much empathy could come across as insincere and blend into the soundscape of other companies saying the same things.
- Educate consumers about how to interact with your company – Tell them about all changes to your operation, including new hours, facility closures, staff reductions, customer service availability, and ordering options, among others. While you can reference the emergency government regulations that necessitated these changes, it’s far better if you are viewed as being proactive and motivated by your customers’ best interests.
- Assure consumers the company’s values will continue – Elaborate how, despite the upheaval in how you operate, you will continue to provide the things they have come to know and love — the defining reasons they patronize your business instead of others. If consumers value the impeccable quality of your wares or the thoughtful nature of your customer service, tell them how will you maintain those value propositions.
- Revolutionize what consumers value about your business – Sun Tzu, who penned The Art of War, recognized that chaos presents opportunity for innovation. This sentiment has reverberated through the ages. Beyond assuring customers that your company’s existing value propositions will remain the same, tell them what innovations have arisen from dealing with the ongoing pandemic — after all, necessity is the mother of invention.Tell your existing customers how you are serving them in new ways. Reach out to potential customers by offering new products or services that solve a new problem.
- Tackle the future – Establish a timeline for when you will reevaluate the changes to your company’s operations. While you must comply with any government-imposed limits, do more if you can afford it. Show customers that you are willing to go beyond what you need to do for their benefit, particularly if your company can handle the financial burden. Your company can demonstrate going “above and beyond” in various ways, all of which point to silver linings of the pandemic experience. Make it evident that your company is well-positioned to maintain its revised business model until things return to normal, signaling that it is weathering the storm. Moreover, highlight what your company has learned from the pandemic experience, as well as how these learnings might improve the way your company operates after the pandemic ends. That is, signal that your company will come out stronger on the other side of the storm. The temporary improvements that satisfy customers now may become permanent improvements to your company’s business model in the future. This will inspire confidence.
– Written by Kevin Sawyer