These unprecedented times has the whole of South Africa in a constant mourning state as news keeps flooding in of product discontinuations and companies such as Domino’s Pizza, closing down. As a small business owner, these headlines are scary and probably has you questioning your survival till post-pandemic, or even for the next month.
We know you need funding for your business to survive; however, these times calls for business owners to be more creative and start thinking beyond month-to-month financial survival. You cannot expect to thrive post-COVID-19 using business strategies that used to work pre-COVID.
People are encouraged to stay home now more than ever as South Africa accelerates towards virus peak and that includes your customers. A business without customers has no business being a business. Therefore, companies need to implement strategies focused on retaining and possibly growing their customers.
This pandemic’s effect on consumer behaviour has led to an increase of 60,7% in online traffic, in the supermarket segment worldwide. Consumers are on the outlook for innovative ways to stay in contact with their preferred businesses, and it is all happening on digital platforms. The city streets might be empty, but the digital streets are packed with consumers and ample space for companies. SME’s can use digital platforms and new technologies to enhance their customer reach at a lower cost than through traditional methods. Companies should digitize their business as much as possible to reach international customers and their local customers who are facing mobility restriction.
As a company, your aim is not just to reach potential customers, but to turn them into loyal customers. Companies can achieve this by strengthening their customer engagement; which is defined as the interactions between customers and the brand. Customers want to feel like they are part of the family and to do that brands need to engage with them in such a way that will strengthen their emotional connection to the brand. That emotional connection will be the one point that sets you apart from your competitors. Remember, everyone is online now; therefore, the chances of your customer running into a competitor are very high. Well engaged customers will turn into loyal customers who will boost your revenue and most likely share their experience with an audience that trust their referrals.
Customer experience is defined as the perceptions customer has of their relationship with a brand based on their interactions with that brand. Companies that solely depended on winning their customers over with face-to-face interactions will have to work harder on their customer experience management strategy to ensure a great experience even on digital platforms. Yes, you can no longer just rely on your front desk personnel’s inviting smile because your customers will now be spending more time experience your company on a screen. Your world-class e-commerce mobile application will be of no value if your customers aren’t getting a good experience from it. Digital savvy consumers will be expecting Artificial Intelligence-driven service delivery to respond to their queries. You want your company to be known for fast and effective service delivery all around. The key to a great customer experience is consistency. Your message must be consistently timely, personal and memorable.
The saying goes that you have no business running a business without customers, but you would not be able to cater to them without your employees. Therefore if you take care of your employees, they will take care of your customers. You need to ensure that the people who you trust to deliver your message across is happy so that they can deliver a positive message to your customers.
We believe that implementing these and other innovative strategies together with financial aid can help your business to retain its customers and help you to survive this pandemic.