Customer Experience News & Trends

How customers have changed – and how you want to respond

The world recoiled from doing business in the midst of the coronavirus. Now you need to get back to business – and reengage your customers. Here’s expert advice on how to do it. 

B2B and B2C customers will likely spend less and scrutinize buying decisions more as we enter a recession. Organizations that focus on customers now will be more successful when the economy rebounds, says Rohit Deshpandé, a Sebastian S. Kresge Professor of Marketing at Harvard Business School, in research he recently co-authored in the Harvard Business Review.

“It is even more critical for firms to become more customer centric by researching and understanding their customers’ new problems caused by fear, isolation, physical distancing, and financial constraints,” Deshpandé says, “and attempt to structure their offerings to meet these new unmet wants and needs.”

The researchers suggest you:

Build a bigger digital footprint

Customers got used to doing the bulk of their buying from home during the pandemic. Many prefer to continue to stay out of businesses and rely on online research and ordering, along with delivery and pickup options.

B2B companies will likely need to follow their B2C counterparts in increasing digital buying options. Now’s the time to explore apps to help customers research, customize and buy easily from their cell phones. But don’t lose the personal touch. Give customers options to talk directly with salespeople and support professionals as they’re using the app or when they want personalized help.

Reward loyal customers

Some of your customers have been impacted harder by the pandemic than others. Perhaps their business was and is struggling. Or maybe they’ve lost jobs.

If you can help them through the tough times now, you can create loyalty for the long-term.

What can you do to relieve some of their troubles? Some companies have created new pricing options. Others have built new maintenance plans so customers can get more usage out of products or services they have.

Continue to make emotional connections

If customers already consider you a partner – not just a vendor or seller – you’ve done a good job of connecting and building meaningful relationships.

You’ll want to continue that – or get started – by regularly checking in and providing customers with valuable information. You might share stories of how other, similar businesses or people have navigated the difficult times. Or give them access to helpful information or services that you normally charge to receive.

Recognize the limits

Many customers will need less or nothing at all because they’ve hit financial hardship.

Deshpandé suggests companies and sales pros “initiate crediting and financing, deferral of payments, new payment terms, and renegotiation of rates to those in need … to encourage longer-term relationships and loyalty, which will increase revenue and reduce transaction costs.”

The key is to maintain a presence with customers so when they’re ready and able to buy as usual again, you’re top of mind.

Get proactive

If customers aren’t contacting you because their business or spending is stalled, don’t be afraid to reach out to them, the researchers said,

Let them know you’re still in business and ready to help or supply when they’re ready. Give them information on new or revamped products and services, delivery options, health safeguards and payment plans. You don’t have to ask them to buy. Just letting them know you’re as available as ever will help future sales and loyalty.

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