Data from Statista’s survey suggests that as many as 29% of USA organisations are experiencing a drop in sales of their products and services.
Economists are weary about what the immediate future holds, and rightly so. Business leaders need to take an honest look at how each aspect of their business is managed. It’s also absolutely crucial that they place a spotlight on maintaining relationships with existing customers, with it being so difficult to predict the buying power of new prospects.
In the face of a pandemic and lockdown that left them lonelier than ever, our customers deserve love and attention. Their needs, circumstances, and mindsets have changed. So, businesses must change the way they operate to keep up with rapidly-changing markets. They must go against the grain; prioritising retention over growth. How? By being customer-centric, and defining customer retention as the North Star metric for the forseeable future.
How can you remain customer-centric during a crisis?
Maintaining existing relationships is always important to develop referrals, positive reviews, and repeat custom. In the post-coronavirus world, it’s going to be absolutely essential if you want to keep your business afloat. Your customers, like yourself, are feeling the effects of a horrible situation. The problem for you is that they all feel it in different ways. Where others are paralyzed by a fear of the unknown, you can take it upon yourself to take advantage and move forward.
1. Implement a CRM system
While you might think that investing in tools isn’t ideal during a global crisis, hear us out. CRM systems actually help to cut costs during economic turmoil. The clue is in the question. CRM stands for customer relationship management. Having a tool that centrally, accurately stores customer data is crucial for making decisions. CRM brings all that data to the surface; there’s no need to waste time sifting through old correspondances.
- CRM prompts you to reach out to customers who have not been contacted in a while, need additional attention, and perhaps feel neglected.
- Segmentation is a useful tool for approaching customers who find themselves in different situations. Some customers might be suitable for cross-selling of a product that can help in a difficult time; some customers might be ready for upselling, if they haven’t been as affected by the downturn. Each group of customers can be placed on segmented lists and targeted with tailor-made emails.
- Automation features give marketing teams a toolbelt of templates, email sequences, and subsequent reports to reach out to as many existing customers, as efficiently as possible. It can also help to fix and perfect the different communication methods that are used at different stages of the buyer journey.
- Email tracking offers insight into whether emails get opened and whether recipients follow the links inside. This helps sales teams to evaluate their onboarding processes and lead nurturing strategies; facilitating the trial-and-error of different approaches until they find the perfect one.
- Customer service is on the frontline of maintaining customer relationships. CRM means customer service teams can organise workflows, visualise exactly when a ticket enters the company’s system, and be notified when it needs to be actioned. CRM is built around full customer context being on hand, giving them the tools they need to get an issue resolved quickly.
Above all, it’s important that each customer is approached with understanding, humility, and empathy. Your existing customers deserve and need this if you expect them to stick around.
It’s worthwhile to receive customer feedback, analyse it, and adjust your roadmap based on their requests. But, you can go so much further than this; communication is a two-way avenue. To ‘close the loop’ simply means that apart from getting the feedback, you also communicate back and acknowledge that the customer has been heard and acted upon.
Take an opportunity to demonstrate to your customers that their feedback matters. This is not just a ‘thank you for your feedback’ message, nor some impersonal, pre-templated newsletter. This is a personal follow-up, letting them know how you have improved the product based on what they asked. Closed loops result in more loyalty and trust, and should be especially applied to both unhappy and more neutral customers to turn them into loyal brand advocates.
If you haven’t implemented a Net Promoter Score (NPS) programme yet, launch one today
Conducting NPS surveys is the simplest way to understand how your users are doing and to predict any imminent problems. Along with their score, you should ask users an open-ended question based on why they chose it. You can also ask for feedback at critical user journey touchpoints, such as onboarding, feature use, and customer success communication.
When acted upon immediately, your organisation is able to prioritize roadmaps and slow down churn rates.
3. Stay flexible to customer requests
As the turbulent COVID recovery finds momentum, the immediate path is shrouded in uncertainty for most businesses. Some customers might experience drastic drop-off numbers and look for ways to cut costs. Alternatively, if your customers contact you to request a discount or extended warranty period, adapt to their on-the-ground, individual situation and satisfy their requests.
Your service could easily be one of those costs that is cut. If you receive the cancellation request, don’t let your users go without a fight. Provide them with a meaningful discount if you have the profit margin, or negotiate a ‘payment holiday’ for a period of time to see them get back on their feet.
While you can’t stop your customers from leaving, you can try to prevent the churn by allowing your frontline employees to step out of line from standard policy. Be flexible, support your customers through difficult times, and they’ll be less inclined to leave in the future.
They can even become brand advocates, spread the good word about your product, and bring new users to the table.
4. Be proactive
You don’t have the time to wait for your customers to request a subscription cancellation. It’s crucial to be proactive and act fast. Reach out to your customers and ask how they and their business are getting on, reach out without a pitch, apply light pressure to make a decision, and do not ask transactional questions. Learn more about their situation so you can bend your help around them. Build a list of strategic partners and reach out to them individually.
Make your users feel part of a community. Create a channel where they can exchange their ideas, current challenges, and tips to overcome them. An online community also serves as a hub for your tutorials and enablements to show how your product helps to leverage growth.
We’re all in the same boat. Your recovery is everybody else’s recovery. Good luck.
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