As consumers and businesses adjust to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic which changed the way we live our lives and conduct business, it is important that brands adopt new measures to ensure customer needs and expectations met in a manner that ensures brand loyalty.
According to research by McKinsey, 75% of Americans have changed brands and their shopping behaviour since the pandemic began in response to economic pressures, lockdowns, and changing consumer priorities. The major reasons for switching brands include availability (in-store and online), convenience, and value.
With the development and distribution of Vaccines underway, 2021 looks like the year the world transitions to the new normal. In this article, I highlight 6 best practices that will help businesses win new customers and retain existing ones in the new normal.
#1. Optimize Digital Channels
More businesses and consumers have adopted the use of digital channels in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We have seen schools and students adopt e-learning, Hospitals now offer Telemedicine services, retail stores are moving online and offering home delivery to customers. Even churches are not left out, most now stream Sunday services to their congregation.
To improve customer loyalty in the new normal, brands need to ensure their digital channels are functional and easier to use when compared with those offered by competitors. A competent IT team is necessary to ensure digital assets like websites and mobile apps are optimized and deliver required value to customers
#2. Ensure Consistency in Quality
Consistency in the quality of products (or services) is the key to customer loyalty. When the quality of your products and services are consistent, customers see your products or services as dependable, and thus they form a stronger bond with your brand.
The ability of your business to consistently reproduce a particular service standard is very important in creating Customer loyalty, as consistency builds the customer’s confidence in your brand
#3. Provide Self-Service Channels
One fallout of the COVID19 pandemic is that customers across the globe are having to rapidly adapt and use self-service technology such as self-ordering kiosks, online reservations, and contactless payment solutions.
More customers would opt for self-service to avoid having to go through the rigours of visiting physical business locations such as washing hands, temperature checks and wearing a nose mask. Customers expect brands to provide self-service alternatives to reduce the effort needed to patronize them.
Providing self-service options is a win-win for businesses as it reduces the risk of employees being exposed to infection and improves their productivity as customers handle basic activities by themselves. A simple way to offer self-service is by developing content that explains how customers can solve basic problems by themselves.
#4. Personalize The Experience
As the COVID-19 pandemic pushes more customers online, it creates an opportunity for brands to offer personalized services to the customers. More brands are experimenting and developing hyper-personalised CX by leveraging on available customer data and artificial intelligence.
The first step towards personalization is to gather as much data as possible about your customers such as transaction histories, chat logs, profile information and website activity.
What should you do with this data?
Personalization has gone beyond addressing customers by their first names or wishing them happy birthdays. Your major goal should be on reducing customer effort with the available data and figuring out more ways you can convert existing data to value for customers.
#5. Start A Customer Feedback Program
As the needs of the consumers and their behaviour evolves, especially as the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic there is a need for businesses to track customer satisfaction and keep tabs on the expectation of their customers.
A solid customer feedback program is key for generating a steady stream of customer insights necessary for businesses to keep a pulse on the customer and quickly implement changes on their products, services or processes based on customer feedback.
#6. Reward Your Loyal Customers
You do not necessarily have to spend millions to make your loyal customer feel good. Sometimes, little gestures will go a long way to make them feel appreciated.
An easy way to reward loyal customers is by giving them some free or discounted after-sales services, free delivery or free product trials. You can also implement a customer loyalty program to boost sales and reward loyalty.
Businesses that will remain relevant and profitable when the pandemic is over are those that are agile, willing and flexible enough to respond to the changing market demands.
Implementing the practices outlined in this post will go a long way to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty for businesses across various sectors.