Home Business, Product & Tool Tips How to Develop a Customer-Centric Business Strategy After The Pandemic
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How to Develop a Customer-Centric Business Strategy After The Pandemic

Victorio Duran III
10/02/2021
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customer-centric business

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There is an emotional aspect to all relationships, and this holds true for the bond between individuals and brands. The relationship of your company with customers is developed over time, nurtured by experiences during their journey through online and physical touchpoints, and validated by repeated interactions.

A crisis throws under the spotlight both the strengths and vulnerabilities of your relationship, and the coronavirus pandemic is not just any crisis. 

If you are a B2C business, a human being seeking comfort and interaction and in need of a new customer experience is your most significant stakeholder right now. Your most urgent question should be, “How do I support my customers in a meaningful, human, and relevant manner?” 

The use of file-sharing programs in your company could help. Bear with us while we explain.

Before this crisis, research from PwC found that 59 percent of surveyed global customers thought that businesses had lost touch with the human customer service aspect, and 75 percent of surveyed customers preferred to communicate with a human over an automated computer. 

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For example, they might find it difficult to make buying decisions for important goods without being able to try out or see products in person. The same is true for online therapy or problem solving, such as telehealth, when direct human interaction is absent.

As a result, what clients care about right now is changing. Compared to those who show emotional intelligence and connect with care, integrity, and empathy, creating trust as a result, brands whose focus is on having the best price, coolest product, or most memorable marketing campaign fall short.

People want to be heard and understood in times of crisis, and they’re highly sensitive to tone and motivation. Are you reaching out to help or to sell something to them? Does your outreach sound sincere and compassionate, or does it seem self-serving?

Importance

Almost every single company, big or small, understood the value of pleasing their customers before the COVID-19 virus struck. However, most were merely offering customer-centric lip service, and very few were actually going that extra mile.

This is no longer possible because, even six months ago, clients were increasingly sharing their impressions of businesses and brands online.

Research summarized on Forbes and conducted worldwide across 30 markets shows that participation has risen 61 percent above usual rates of use on social media. Companies can no longer hide as they once did; when they are less than pleased with a product or service, clients are out to highlight their disappointment and point the finger.

The simplest way to combat this is a customer-first approach. In anything you do, you must think of the consumer as your priority.

The upward trend in the importance of a customer-first approach has intensified in today’s environment and makes it one of the most significant, if not the most important, factors for all organizations. It’s no longer the norm or even the current norm for successful companies; it’s becoming the make-or-break criterion to survive the pandemic. 

Incorporating a digital workforce makes this easier for both employees and clients and doesn’t leave customers wondering something as simple as ‘what is a bot’.

Though retail is obviously struggling after lockdown sales went online, it’s not the only industry that has been hit hard: cruises, health, energy, fitness, and airlines are a few other examples. 

Whether businesses are on a downward trajectory or not, as spending becomes less impulsive, consumers hold the key to success more than ever before.

Enough research has been done to show that the return on a customer-first approach is important.

  • For a better client experience, 86% of customers would pay more. Yet only 1 percent of consumers believe that their needs are regularly met by vendors.
  • Since witnessing bad customer service, 89% of customers have avoided doing business with a firm.
  • Walker predicts that by 2020, as the main brand differentiator, customer experience will surpass price and product.
  • Statistics show that a 10% rise in customer satisfaction results in a 30 percent increase in the company’s valuation.
  • 94% of customers say they are more likely to be loyal to a brand that provides transparency.

Strategies

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So what strategies can you use to develop a more customer-centric approach? We’ve collated and discussed a few ideas for you below.

Focus on the customers you have

Firstly, we recommend concentrating on the customers you already have and who are sticking with you amid the economic crisis if you’re struggling to pull in a fresh new audience and first-time buyers.

You may want to give refunds to clients who had prepaid memberships or were on auto-pay during the lockdown period, in addition to developing programs and ad campaigns to target their new needs.

Although this could affect your cash flow in the short-term, when the economy restabilizes and your now-loyal clients can start spending again, the money you returned will come back to you tenfold.

The trick is to look out for your clients/buyer persona, consumers, and coworkers when times are difficult and unemployment rates are high. In one way or another, they will thank you for this. 

And in other areas, such as customer loyalty, brand recognition, organic traffic, social media interaction, and maybe even new opportunities, you will probably also see growth.

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Move everything online

It’s no wonder that everything is moving online, given the lockdowns and travel restrictions resulting from the pandemic. 

You probably have some of your business functions online already (maybe you’re using a free file share service or one of the best android messaging apps, for example), but the pandemic has shown us just how much more we can do on the world wide web.

There are often more aspects of your business that you can take online, regardless of what field you are in, and having this option can set you apart from your rivals and help you stand out to potential customers.

A few examples of what this might look like include:

  • Investing in good tools for customer relationship management, such as CRM software.
  • Hosting insightful webinars to create confidence, attract new clients, or step up your employee’s skills.
  • Supporting the work-from-home needs of your workers.

The more operations you can place online, the more you can stay connected to your clients and workers, which is vital for any organization that’s hoping to remain both resilient and profitable.

Run exclusive deals and offers

A good way to get customers interested in your products or services is by providing exclusive sales discounts or offers as you begin to reopen. These deals and promotional emails may be revealed and/or pushed on your social media sites.

This kind of deal can help to pull in new customers while also making existing ones interested in returning. This concept could work for various industries (from theatres to spas to gyms) and should be especially effective in sectors that have been hard hit by the coronavirus, such as hospitality and travel.

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The incentive customers need to invest in your business may range from discounts to freebies and other saving opportunities. For clients who want to invest in you over a certain time span, you could also provide membership offers. 

And, when times are difficult, this will help you to earn some money. Having a team collaboration app within your business could be a great help in organizing this. 

Give your communication strategy an overhaul

The communication plan you previously had in place might no longer be suitable as the needs and schedules of people have shifted. Rethinking the emails you send out, the content you make, and the general attitude you have toward your customers would be wise.

This may mean totally redoing your content calendar or placing some blog posts on the back burner while you concentrate more on articles that discuss the current situation’s concerns, worries, and questions. This also means you need to take the time to get to know who your customers are post-COVID-19.

You could also review your ads, emails, videos, webinars, and podcast episodes with your customers’ current preferences in mind. You may benefit from using HR messaging tools to help you.

Focus on a few main paid advertising channels

PPC ads are the way to go right now, but it’s not ideal to concentrate on Google Ads, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram ads all at once. Looking up video marketing trends can help you identify the priority for your business.

You need to find out where your target audience is hanging out and then concentrate most of your PPC attempts on those networks. For instance:

  • If you’re a beauty company, it’s likely your target audience will be on Instagram. Alternatively, you might rely on Google if you have a more serious business, such as an alcohol treatment facility.
  • If you have a business-related instrument or service such as a keyword analysis tool, your go-to would be LinkedIn.

Shaping the future together

When we have endured some sort of mass ordeal, we come out of the other side, more human and compassionate. We’re profoundly linked by what we have experienced together.

When it comes to relationships between companies and customers, these ties will only grow over the long term if we ‘suffer’ together and still support each other. Such an event can help to build a new foundation for the future of how brands and customers communicate.

Ultimately, COVID-19 will leave an enduring mark on the nature of interaction and collaboration. It will likely contribute to a deep-seated paradigm shift, where businesses begin to put people first.

Businesses will have the opportunity to demonstrate their true colors, whether positive or negative. Corporations, brands, staff, and customers are likely to respond positively in the long-term, despite the forced transition affecting us all. At its end, we will emerge together, in a better place than where we began. 

The pandemic has increased the pace at which we’re ‘going digital’ and has given many online businesses new strength. Reaching your audience has never been easier.

Conclusion

A customer-first approach requires a company-wide shift in attitude. Customer centricity can make a real difference to those who follow this path in terms of both sales and profits. Which will make a post-pandemic business recovery run smoothly. 

To think of the customer first, it’s important to have executive support and a real dedication from every employee.

Being customer-centric means that every worker can get up close and personal with clients. This is the only way to understand their role in pleasing them and impacting their broader buying experience.

Bear in mind that the influence of the acts you take today is likely to outlast the pandemic. Moreover, it will determine the loyalty that individuals have to your brand and goods. Consequently, the messages you put out there must be focused on the consumers’ specific experiences and needs, and your ability to deliver on your pledges.

If you can win clients’ confidence in this way, today and in the future, you can create an enduring connection.

Guest Author Bio: Victorio Duran III –  RingCentral US

Victorio is the Associate SEO Director at RingCentral, a global leader in cloud-based communications and collaboration solutions. He has over 13 years of extensive involvement on web and digital operations with diverse experience as a web engineer, product manager, and digital marketing strategist.

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