Your customers will remember this08th April 2020
How do you get your medication, when both you and your spouse are self-isolating at home?
That was the dilemma facing our associate director, Shirley, last week.
But rather than venture out for her husband’s regular prescription, she called her local chemist…
…who arranged for one of their staff to deliver it.
It’s not part of their normal service, but we’re living in extraordinary times – so they went the extra mile.
“It was exceptional service. It really meant a lot to us,” Shirley told me on one of our recent video conferences.
And I couldn’t help but think that with that small gesture, this local business had earned a customer for life.
Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been talking about the things you need to do in order to get your business through this Coronavirus crisis in one piece, and put yourself in a good position to bounce back once the lockdown is lifted.
I’ve discussed some of your financial considerations… And operational considerations…
You must also do everything you can to preserve your customer base, and ensure that when all this is over, they still think well of you.
This is no idle matter.
Your customers will remember how you treated them during their hour of need, long after the crisis is over.
And the future of your business depends on this goodwill.
When the lockdown ends and business picks up again, the last thing you want is to have to scramble to build much of your customer base again, from scratch.
This will make recovery much slower and much more difficult.
You need to do whatever you can to keep your current customers on side, even if you can’t serve them directly at the moment…
…so that when the time comes…
…and when they have difficult decisions to make about where to spend their limited funds…
…they’re still with you.
There are two ways of doing this.
One is through customer service. Think about how you can make people’s lives just that little bit easier right now, like Shirley’s chemist did…
…and how you can still be there for your customers, even if you’re not operating.
For example, I’ve been told of med spas which have been forced to shut their doors and furlough all their staff – but rather than abandon their patients, the doctors in charge are answering phones themselves, and offering virtual consultations.
The other way is through communication.
As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, think very carefully before cutting your marketing investment significantly right now, because you’ll need customers quickly when you’re up-and-running again.
You have to stay visible!
But it’s not just about attracting new leads. You can spend this time nurturing your existing customer base, offering them helpful advice and tips and staying in touch through email and social media.
In fact, without too much effort, this can become an opportunity – to forge stronger relationships with your customers, and increase their loyalty…
To stand out, when other companies are letting them down or continuing with ‘business as usual’….
And to show leadership, when people are crying out for it.
It doesn’t mean that your company will, overall, come out better off than before Coronavirus – very few will – but wouldn’t those be great wins?
Unfortunately, too many companies are getting this horribly wrong.
Many businesses have furloughed significant numbers of staff, which can have implications for customer care. Rather than think this through, they simply shut their doors – and their customers won’t hear from them again in months.
Or in an effort to cut costs, the first thing to go is their marketing.
It’s a classic mistake, even though numerous studies over the past century (yes – literally) show that companies that continue marketing in bad times are not only more likely to survive, but grow faster once the downturn is over.
Yes, when your business has to save money, there are difficult choices to make. There are some things you will have to cut, even if it isn’t really the best thing for your business.
But you have to find the appropriate balance between saving money in this exceptional hour – and ensuring your business has what it needs to thrive again, one day not too far off.
Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face….
PS. Another, similar long-term interest is to take care of your staff right now – even if you’re closed.
One of my acquaintances works for a company which offered each employee whose spouse was made redundant a £1,000 / month bonus. They didn’t want them to have to worry about money….
Of course you have to have the funds to do this, but it’s a great example of how good companies are treating their staff right now. And I can assure you that the employees will be far more loyal to his company, and much more dedicated to them, for years to come.
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