How your business can become more customer-centric amid COVID-19

Wed, 15/04/2020 - 11:42

To say that 2020 has been a surprise would be an understatement. Months ago, South Africa slipped into an (ongoing) global crisis and saw traditional markets collapsing. 

And, the worst part – it’s entirely out of our control.  

But businesses cannot sit and ponder about the what-ifs. Now is the time to buckle up and test your contingency plan. While many companies would prefer to “play it safe” – the reality is that you cannot afford to do so. Resilience is key to growing through this uncertain time. 

Today’s customers depend on businesses to be proactive; show them what you’re doing to rise above fear. This shared fear is a global feeling. But taking positive steps to support communities during this pandemic will reassure customers. 

And that starts with a consistent marketing presence. 

A number of businesses have paused their campaigns and retracted their marketing efforts entirely as their profits take a hit. It’s impossible to gauge when this will end. But this is for sure, ‘business’ will not go back to normal – well, at least not the normal we’re used to. Use this time to invest in digital marketing tactics that will produce measurable growth over the upcoming months. Do not dismiss your SEO and content marketing efforts; with the right performance marketing agency in South Africa, your business has the potential to thrive. Be it blog posts, email marketing, social media marketing or paid advertising – we can help. 

Marketing Week conducted a recent study on consumers, and it revealed that “37% believe brands should advertise as normal, 29% believe they should advertise differently, and 34% say they are uncertain.” However, “what consumers do want is for brands to be helpful where they can.” Customers expect their favourite brands to take the initiative to help where they can while maintaining a customer-centric approach. So, to meet those growing expectations, here are four fundamental principles that marketers can instil in their efforts. 

Be transparent 

If your customers are at the heart of your organisation, they will experience the effects of what your business is going through during this time. Whether your business is essential or not, customers need to be informed about any movements that may affect them. Any communication regarding production status, operating hours, reservations, employee restructuring – and the list goes on – should be shared with customers; where applicable. Customers want to know if they will be affected and how they need to prepare themselves. 

Realistically, your business won’t have all the answers your customers need right now; however, it’s important to monitor your customers’ interactions with your brand, and keep them as informed as possible throughout this challenge. It will build strong relationships. 

Think long-term 

In times like these, your customers will truly get to know your purpose. Customer support, and service, needs to be a top priority, and businesses need to consider creative ways to make a difference. “Companies that take the initiative and really do something to help are reaping the rewards,” says Sarah Vizard from Marketing Week. Essential brands need to maximise their efforts by personalising the customer experience at every touchpoint. Take this time to celebrate the small wins and listen to your customers. It’s a hard time for your bottom line, but so is it for consumers. Revisit your product, marketing and communications strategies with a strategic marketing agency like Rogerwilco, to humanise your brand.

Show empathy 

As much as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is a deeply personal challenge for business owners, you need to show compassion and empathy to your customers. It’s a trying time for all; layoffs, sick relatives, etc. And by humanising your customer experience, it can make all the difference. Take this downtime to really understand who your customers are and what they want. Action real-time data from interactions and listen to your customers. If you’re unable to, consult a marketing strategist who can assist you in generating these insights. 

Practice agility 

Remote working has challenged many business owners. However, it’s an opportunity to show your customers how efficient your organisational structure is. Fortunately, digital marketing agencies have acclimatised, encouraging more businesses to outsource their marketing and advertising efforts while they get back on their feet. Our teams are equipped with exclusive technology, resources and solutions needed to adapt to your market. Allow us to generate trust with your customers, and deliver persistent awareness for your business. 

In summary

The silver lining to a severe, life-changing pandemic is how businesses have managed to, and can continue to, meet their customers’ needs in a new light. Mark Ritson says, “recessionary periods actually provide fertile grounds for marketers to grow their brand’s market share if they’re prepared to think long-term.” It’s about using this time to rethink solutions and understand how your customers, society and life can derail your plans in an instant. If you continue to put your customers at the heart of your business and strategically reposition your messaging when it matters most, every decision has the ability to succeed.

Discover our 2020 Digital Customer Experience Report for South Africa


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