Those who haven’t started to thrive in this new post-pandemic economy should take note of the following trends pertaining to the new customer experience.
This pandemic has stripped many businesses of budgets and stunted growth initiatives, whilst simultaneously forcing them to overhaul long-standing practices and protocols. They are pressured to keep up with the ever-changing government social distancing guidelines. At the same time, customer and client expectations have inherently altered at their very core, and organisations that fail to address new market demands risk being left behind.
Companies have to rethink their customer relation strategies, set priorities and focus on building a trust relationship between customers and employees. The pandemic has led many businesses to prioritise customer retention over customer acquisition. Now more than ever, it is of paramount importance to build commitment, transparency, and empathy with users, so they stay loyal to a brand.
I share a few ways to live through the industry challenges by focusing on serving instead of selling, prioritizing customers’ data protection and building employer brand.
Shifting from ‘selling’ to ‘serving’ for increasing customer retention
Typically, it is more expensive to acquire new customers than retain existing ones. Generally speaking, a loyal client is far more valuable in today’s climate than short term customers or one-off sales. The former is ready to stay and follow, and the latter tends to run out of steam at a mere glimpse of a hard time.
If we contrast extremely low consumer demand for new services with increasingly saturated markets, we get a clear business model. A shift from selling to serving users emerges as an economically justified practice for improving the new customer experience and promoting retention.
To establish a strong customer service programme and effective account management initiative, businesses first have to realize the value of such a mindset shift.
Now more than ever, serving users is all about support and flexible communication. The Covid-19 pandemic has destroyed the traditional 9-5 working day for many remote workers, introducing fluctuation and insecurity.
In return, we have seen many companies adapt their customer service programmes to a much more flexible or even round-the-clock basis. It was the automated response technology that made this shift possible and successful. Businesses were suddenly able to provide concerned consumers with instant access to vital information and support even during periods out of company hours.
Establishing a new marketing strategy
Even businesses which have continued customer acquisition strategies have pivoted to attracting the long-term audience, as opposed to random acquisition at any cost. The new modern marketing strategy has seen a greater focus on areas such as loyalty programmes, free trials, and charitable actions. All these practices present us with the shift in business models. Rather than telling audiences their plans, companies are now showing their pursue of client-first strategies.
Connecting emotionally with customers to establish trust and loyalty
Open communication, honesty, and company transparency will help establish a stronger connection with clients. When Covid-19 inevitably causes delays or disruptions to services, customers will be more forgiving to the forthcoming account managers. Vice-versa, long-term clients will require more empathy and leniency. Only the reciprocal support will create a symbiotic relationship between these two factions.
There have been several studies in the past which have shown the positive impact of emotional connection in business services. During this desperate time, showing solidarity may be more important than ever in establishing long-term connections with customers. Be it by leveraging emotional or environmental motivators, social equality, or financial support factors.
Understanding, empathising, and supporting new customer expectations specific to any given industry or market requires bespoke insight. CRM tools can help in visualising data and analysis. They can allow companies to stay one step ahead of the curve and even connect with customers’ emotions.
Keeping an employer branding strategy in mind
Sticking with the theme of ‘show’ don’t ‘tell’ – today, we are far more attentive to ethics in business. In recent years, the supply chain, social equality or fiduciary responsibilities, for example, are holding increasing value. The pandemic, however, has also shifted attention towards how organisations, particularly world-beating enterprises, are treating their employees.
Support services for mental and physical health to employees is invaluable in today’s climate. We must prioritise them to maintain a well-oiled workplace and positive company culture. The digitalised and well-equipped HR teams, communication channels, and internal social platforms are all means to support employees. As a result of this social initiative, the public will take notice and generate a positive brand image for a given company.
Prioritizing user data privacy
Taking this idea one step further, organisations should seriously consider addressing one strongly ‘unethical’ practice − the lack of data privacy. Companies make no secret of the fact that customer data is utilised for marketing and self-improvement programmes. Unfortunately, there can be more sinister use-cases for illicitly harvested data.
For example, companies can expose their customer data to the third-party when using it for measuring web analytics. The same third-party can later use the gathered information for commercial gain. In most cases, customers are not made aware of this.
Thus, companies are urged to upgrade their privacy policies. They need to take notice of any third-party practices on their web properties and ensure compliance with the policy.
At Zoho, our software and services are created in-house, so we have full control over the people’s data. We put user privacy first at every step of the customer journey. From experience, this has garnered increasing attention from long-term customers and improved loyalty with our existing ones.
Rushing toward new strategies
Needless to say, the pandemic has irreparably altered the way businesses operate. Despite a tangible ‘lockdown exit’ having been revealed in recent weeks, it is likely that services and businesses will still exist in a predominantly digital environment.
Therefore, those companies which have not adapted for long term remote, or at least ‘hybrid’ working, will do well to start implementing new technology. Prioritizing user data privacy and investing in employer branding also emerge as two other pressuring tasks. In general, adhering to the latest ‘trends’ in the customer journey turns out to be a new imperative.