A business is nothing without its loyal customers. Whether you provide products or services, your business won’t survive unless your existing customers keep interested in your offerings and ready to pay for them. In such difficult times, due to the coronavirus outbreak, it’s getting impossible for businesses to retain customers for steady growth. With the rise of the pandemic, the people are advised to stay at home and demand for most products or services has plummeted. Businesses are getting affected and they are in need to adopt various customer retention strategies to deal with current adverse market conditions.
The world is reeling under the COVID-19 crisis. People are staying in their homes. Most of your target customers are also amongst the people who are on self-quarantine. No wonder, businesses from both the manufacturing and service sectors have suffered heavily due to drastic changes in the market.
This crisis has forced businesses to come up with new marketing strategies to retain their customers. They are struggling to win back the hearts and minds of customers. Most of the new strategies are centered around the thought of assuring the customers that the products they buy online or offline are safe and secure.
What can they do?
Businesses Can Adopt The Following Tactics To Retain Customers During The Coronavirus Crisis
01. Take Emergency Measures
The first step your small business should take is to set up an emergency response team consisting of the chief executive, financial officer, etc. Give this team the power to take quick cross-functional decisions based on an assessment of risk factors.
The team should promptly address the issues related to supply, inventory, online store operations, and the workforce. Take into account the consumer sentiment as well.
The emergency team must be given clear guidelines about its responsibilities to manage communication and review emergency responses effectively. Make sure that you have set up several emergency response teams for different regions, countries, stores, etc.
02. Reassure Customers About Product Safety
Customers are worried about touching any product for fear of getting infected by the coronavirus. So, give them a real-time understanding of how your store and products are safe and secure. Tell that you follow strict hygiene procedures for the store, employees, and customers.
Use social media frequently all day to keep your customers informed about the cleanliness procedures you are following in your store.
Post videos on different social channels showing your staff wearing plastic gloves and taking the utmost care to keep products and customers safe from infection. Show them that you regularly clean payment terminals, counters, and the entire store surface.
03. Run An Online Customer Help Service
Your business may already be providing support through email and phone to customers. At this time of crisis, increase your customer service capabilities even more. Make it certain that customers or clients can reach you quickly from wherever they are.
You can give many options to customers when they wish to contact your business. Give them chat options such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and other messaging platforms.
Video conferencing is another effective alternative your customers can explore. You should ask them to contact your officials on Skype or FaceTime for a face-to-face conversation. It will help to build trust.
04. Follow New Hygiene Rules In Your Store Warehouse Operational Quarters
If you have permission to open your physical store, then place sanitizing products at the right points in the store so that customers can clean hands.
Ask the store employees to make customers follow your strict hygiene rules. Whoever passes through your store doors should have hands sanitized properly.
Make sure that you stick the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [ CDC] guidelines in all the corners of your store. Such measures help you win your customers’ confidence in your business.
05. Automate The Ordering And Payment Process
Customers are refraining from touching any surface for fear of infection. You can win their confidence in your business, products, or services by providing them a safe and secure environment on your business premises. This includes automation of your ordering and payment process.
You can implement a table ordering system. Such a system gives your customers the freedom to make payments without touching anything, including the currencies.
Your customers can scan a QR code to view your menu. They can also use the code to place an order and then make the payment.
With the QR code system, the customers will accurately place an order. This will also help in increasing the table turnover rate. With these measures, you can hope to improve your business operations.
06. Move From Offline To Online
With the constant rise in COVID-19 cases, people want to stay safe in their homes. This has resulted in a lower volume of sales in physical stores.
A wise move for such businesses in the existing crisis will be to sell online. Customers can still buy from your store if you give them the option to place orders online.
To make your online selling strategy work efficiently, set up a POS system with your online shop. This system enables businesses to sell their products, both online and offline. It syncs your offline products automatically with online purchasing. It also helps in managing your stocks.
07. Increase Your Social Media Presence
While your business has already been on different social media channels, it is time to escalate your presence. Remember that your target customers are on social media.
They are concerned about the spread of coronavirus, and so many of them are checking social media to get new information related to the crisis.
You should post more helpful content on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and other popular social channels. But post only positive social media content to help them cope with the situation.
08. Leverage The Power Of Content
This is the time when you should be creating insightful content that motivates. If your visitors are well informed, they will think of your business even during the crisis. But make your content visible on the web.
To do that, optimize your content with the right keywords such as ‘COVID-19’ and ‘Coronavirus pandemic’. People are searching for content related to the crisis. Create useful content around such keywords.
You should analyze online data using AI-driven tools to find out what type of content people are searching for about coronavirus. This research will help you segment your target audience as per the topics they are reading. You can then use keywords in your content accordingly.
09. Give Heavy Discounts And Free Offers
Another tactic to retain customers is to lure them with attractive discounts that they cannot resist. You should think of slashing the prices of your products more than the usual discounts you offered usually.
If you run an e-commerce store, offer more free stuff to the customers. In case you provide streaming services, give free access to people to your entertainment programs. Such steps will help your business to be in the eyes of customers. You may get many new customers as well.
10. Run A Customer Loyalty Program
If you have a sound base of loyal customers, then they can give a boost to your business in these difficult times. All you should do is start a customer loyalty program. Surveys have revealed that loyal customers spend three times more as compared to new consumers.
So, formulate a strategy that helps in bringing customers more often to your business. They are the people who are willing to make more purchasing if you can reach them. To bring their focus back to your business, you should run promotional campaigns.
Encourage them to spend more. Think also of collecting your customers’ details when they buy something from you. Then, use this information to reward them so that they come back to buy more.
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Retaining customers is a big problem for businesses when people are reluctant to come out of their homes to buy. But they can attract customers by making some changes in their current marketing plans. They should move from offline to online, ensure a safe and secure environment such as digital payments, increase social media presence for brand promotion, and offer substantial discounts.