The success of any company is dependent on providing what customers want, when they want it. At the launch of your business, what were you offering? What needs were you serving? Why were customers attracted to your company over the competition? I’m sure you had a strong client profile then, but what about now?
We are experiencing a pandemic that has caused a significant shift in our attitudes and behaviours. Willingly, or not, most people have had to adapt to a different way of living and working. As the lockdown restrictions ease, it is unlikely that everything will just return to how it was before. There will be a new normal and it is not yet clear what that will look like.
A Shift in Customer Needs
It is important to recognise that the needs and desires of your existing clients and prospects may well have shifted. They are likely to have experienced changes to their:
Your services may have gone from being part of their weekly routine to becoming an occasional treat. They may now be more concerned about the safety measures you have in place than your latest range. As uncertainty continues, they could now be looking for a company that offers more flexible contracts.
You may lose some customers. Yet, this shift may also open up fresh opportunities. Your business may start to attract the interest of customers that you hadn’t previously considered as prospects.
It’s Time to Communicate with Customers
What I suggest is that, as you plan for and begin the reopening of your business, you take time to communicate with your customers. Discover what they need from you now. Are there any barriers that may potentially see the end to your business relationship? How might these be overcome? Explore how you can adapt your offer and shift your goods and services to a favourable position.
There are always customers who give fantastic feedback; the testimonials that you want on your website and the reviews that fill your social media pages. It is uplifting to receive praise, yet change is brought about when you hear from those who are not fully satisfied.
In these past few months, quick decisions were likely made. Maybe you’ve launched an online service, started delivering to customers, changed the layout of your premises or altered policy in response to Government advice. These changes could have helped many, but with little time to plan, they may not be perfect.
What do your customers think? Are they happy with the changes? Do they have any suggestions on how things can be improved? Has this shift made it more difficult for them or is it the change that grabbed their interest? Let your boardroom decisions be informed by customer feedback.
Who Will be your Customers 6 Months from Now?
In addition to current feedback, it is time to dust down the crystal ball. The pandemic and its effects are not over yet. There is considerable uncertainty and we are all having to adapt to changes every week. Will someone who is struggling financially now be in a better or worse position by the end of 2020?
My focus is on supporting vulnerable customers, so I am interested in what companies could implement now that could minimise future vulnerability. What would reduce, rather than compound financial pressures and stress? Your company will benefit if the focus is on long term business relationships over short-term gains.
If compliance with vulnerable customer policies has been on your agenda, now is a great time to fast track their implementation. Helen Pettifer Training is equipped to assist you at every step of the way. Our Vulnerable Customer Training and Resources make it easier to adopt a caring culture. Treat your vulnerable customers well now and you will be in favour when they are back on their feet.
Caring and Confident Staff
Your organisation must equip its staff to provide customers with clear information. This needs to be delivered with compassion. Phone conversations, website updates, emails and social media posts must be sensitive, helpful and of value to your customers.
Your team may face emotional customers and conversations may be difficult and uncomfortable. A standard script is not going to help those employees to deliver a good service, so are they empowered to face the challenges with confidence and empathy? If not, downloadable resources and online training are available.
Remember that your employees may also be dealing with challenges brought about by the pandemic. If you want them to deliver the best customer service, it can be helpful to be aware of the additional care responsibilities, bereavement, stress, and financial pressures that they are facing. Could a flexible approach help their well-being?
Survival of the Fittest
Charles Darwin’s theory suggests that the ability to adapt to changes in the environment were fundamental to survival. This idea applies to businesses as much as species. The ability to adapt to the new requirements of existing customers, or new prospects, will make all the difference.