The coronavirus pandemic has brought companies in all industries into uncharted territory. Slowing the spread of the virus requires social distancing, quarantine, and lockdowns, which have led to many businesses shuttering their locations for the time being.
Businesses are facing tough times ahead, but they don’t have to take this crisis lying down. Below are some action steps that organizations can take to alleviate the stress that the COVID-19 situation has placed on their businesses.
Stay on top of customer communications
Now, more than ever, it’s important that companies keep in touch with their customers. It’s a must for businesses to send regular updates on what’s going on in the organization, so customers know how they can do business with the company.
Is the business closing its physical locations temporarily? If so, can people still buy online? How can they get their hands on their orders? These are the questions companies should be answering in their customer communications in the coming weeks.
The right approach depends on the organization. Some businesses are doubling down on their ecommerce channels and are sending offers that can be redeemed online. Other businesses are launching CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) initiatives to help those severely affected by the pandemic.
It’s essential for companies to craft messaging that truly resonates with their audience. Even if the business is communicating via digital channels, the experience they provide must feel personal, dynamic, and human.
With the right technology, companies can harness the data they already have to craft individualized and timely messaging that customers actually care about. For example, a retailer can use the in-store behavioral data they have about their shoppers to tailor their offers and communications.
Of course, crafting personalized messages requires businesses to have the right data, to begin with.
And this brings us to our next point…
Tighten up existing customer data collection systems
Businesses that don’t have the right customer data should use this period to evaluate their existing systems. How organized are their data-collection processes? Are customer details accessible from one system or does the information live in siloes? More importantly, is the business relying on quality data sources?
In today’s landscape, the most optimal way to get to know customers is by collecting first-party data. As we mentioned previously, zero-party data refers to information that customers have proactively shared with businesses. Unlike third-party tracking, in which marketers track customers in the background, collecting zero-party data is a collaborative act, and customers are fully aware of what they’re sharing.
Brick-and-mortar retailers — under normal circumstances — have a massive opportunity with zero-party data. Physical locations create an excellent environment to connect deeply with customers and collect their information.
During this pandemic, organizations that have already invested in zero-party data are in a better position to connect with their customers.
That said, businesses that aren’t collecting zero-party data can take this as an opportunity to build systems that would allow them to better understand their customers.
They must identify any shortcomings in their data initiatives and systems, then come up with solutions. They may need to look into new technology providers. Perhaps they migrate their data to a different platform or implement a new integration. Whatever the case, now is a good time to take action. The solutions that companies establish during this time will allow them to hit the ground running when business picks up again.
Come up with new ways to connect with the customer
We are in uncharted territory, and this period calls for innovation. As such, organizations should get creative with how they build their one-to-one relationships with customers.
At this stage, most brand-to-customer interactions will take place digitally (with the exception of retailers that sell essential items such as food, supplies, etc.). Because of this, companies must be more inventive with their online messaging. With more customers spending time on digital channels, it’s critical that businesses come up with initiatives that cut through the noise.
That being said, businesses should also think about how they can connect with customers once the coronavirus pandemic passes. Keeping a close eye on how the COVID-19 situation unfolds is critical, and companies must follow the latest developments so they can plan ahead and kick off strong when customers come back.
Cultivating one-to-one relationships should be a priority now and in the future. And the only way to build those relationships is to have a deep understanding of customers (through things like zero-party data) and by implementing marketing technology that can put that data to good use.
Cloud4Wi is here for you
Whatever the next weeks and months bring, we want you to know that Cloud4Wi has your back. If you’re a brand that wants to create stronger customer relationships, we can advise you on the best course of action at this time.
Our team will be 100% remotely connected and available to assist you with a free consultation to analyze and act on customer data collected in physical locations. This way, you will be able to connect with your customers—even if only digitally—and warmly share your values, as well as your latest and upcoming changes during such a time of crisis with physical locations mostly locked down.