How to Retain & Grow Customers in the Time of COVID-19
As you strategize for the year ahead, there are a lot of unknowns. One thing is certain: keeping and growing your customers has never been more important. What are the best ways to retain and expand your existing customer base mid-pandemic? We all know that it is much more expensive to acquire new customers than to keep the ones you have, so regardless of what you are planning to help you grow revenue in the future, you need a plan for your current customer base.
- Customer Segmentation. According to EY, "It’s more critical than ever to be able to segment customers using first- and third-party data and use specific personas to listen to their needs, implement precise customer engagement strategies, and deploy personalization tactics." Depending on your industry, your customers are likely responding to the pandemic in different ways. You may have a segment of customers with extra income and more time than they know what to do with during this pandemic, and you may have others who are strapped for cash and trying to keep their doors open and lights on. You'll want to understand both segments and speak differently to each. Your ability to tailor your messaging to customers based on their specific needs could be the difference between creating loyal fans who double down on their investment in your products or services and driving away struggling customers.
- Proactive & Agile Communication. This goes with the first item in the list. Once you segment your customers, you want to be able to tailor a message that hits at just the right moment. Maybe it's a well-timed price reduction offered to your most at-risk customers or a proactive message about safety protocols that allows in-person customers to feel secure when they need it most. You need to be sensitive to the fact that the world is changing quickly; an ad that worked well a month ago may sound dreadfully out of touch today. Your customers are also understanding of the fact that things are changing fast for your business. According to the US Chamber of Commerce, "Customers can empathize with merchants facing a crisis, as long as you communicate with them properly. Let your customers know if you’re closing your doors, changing your hours and what steps you’re taking to keep your employees and work environment safe and clean."
- A Dedicated Team. If you don't already have a customer success team or a group within your company whose primary focus is retaining and expanding customer accounts, this may be the right time to establish one. Put your resources where you can get a maximum return on that investment. A dedicated group of staff who can listen to customers, understand their pain points, come up with creative solutions, and loop back to the product, marketing and sales teams with specific data from the field could give you an advantage. You need the ability to listen and learn directly from customers—in their own words—on what they need and value at this time. As many companies are reorganizing to operate with a leaner staff, now may be the perfect time to create a team focused on customers.
- Meet the Moment. You've likely already made changes to your products or how you deliver them due to the pandemic. Many have moved to remote or online offerings, and some have shifted to more self-service models for delivery. If you've invested in understanding what your customers need, make sure you are following through and delivering on those needs to the best of your ability. After the crisis passes, many customers may still prefer the convenience of accessing your products or services remotely. Are you positioned well to continue adding value to your customers beyond this immediate moment? Are you looking ahead and designing your future products and services with their needs and preferences in mind?
- Keep Your Core. As many aspects of your business change, it's more important than ever to anchor to your core purpose and values and continue delivering on your brand promise to customers. Maintaining your core identity as a business will help you and your team members make decisions faster as things continue to shift, and it will remind your customers that you are a brand they can trust and rely on—one with integrity and a purpose they support. According to Deloitte, "People are paying attention to how organizations are responding, and purpose-based companies that show empathy will likely emerge as the leaders."
At Rhythm Systems, we’ve implemented some of these strategies ourselves, and we’ve helped our clients with implementing them, as well. We reorganized our company over the summer to create a dedicated Rhythm Success Team, re-deploying some of our most seasoned experts to focus on servicing our customers. Our marketing team has also re-focused a good deal of energy toward customer engagement and retention, and they have gathered some fascinating insights through customer interviews. We work to be flexible with our customers, and we’ve been happy to delay payments in some cases and help customers manage their own cashflow issues. We’ve transformed our in-person consulting offerings into a robust, remote, strategic planning offering that our clients love. We’ve experimented with product-packing and un-bundling some of the services we deliver to help provide more value at just the right price point. Through it all, we’ve stayed focused on our core—living our core values and our purpose to help people and organizations achieve their dreams and goals and our founder’s mission to help CEOs avoid failure. We are grateful every day to come to work and help our clients, and we are honored to be here for them through this crisis.
Your customer is at the center of everything you do - you can build amazing products, have the slickest marketing, have the sharpest sales team, and have the best finance, IT and HR in the world, but if you treat your customers poorly, your business will suffer. Consider investing in your customers, finding out how you can help them through this difficult time and creating brand evangelists who will be loyal to your company for life.
Here are more resources for strategic plans:
The CEOs Strategy-Execution Gap...And How To Fix It
How to Prepare for an Effective Strategic Planning Session
Choose Your 3 Year Strategic Growth Initiatives Wisely With This 4 Step Process
5 Steps to Getting Started on 3 Year Strategic Plans with Winning Moves
Have You Validated Your 3 Year Strategic Plan?
Strong 3 Year Strategic Plans to Grow Revenue and Stay Competitive
16 Strategic Planning Tips to Keep Your Strategic Plan Alive
Don't Confuse Strategic Thinking And Strategy Execution Plans
9 Steps to a New Revenue Growth Strategy [Infographic]
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