The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted businesses and forced consumers to change the way they shop. Even 100% of online companies struggled to keep up with increased digital shopping demands. Figuring out how to reassure customers while following CDC safety guidelines stretched most leadership to the limits.
According to McKinsey research, the COVID-19 crisis has changed how we shop and the types of things we buy. In a look at consumers across 45 different countries worldwide, researchers found about 80% of people in high-impact countries keep spending local and stick with necessities.
Once you understand why people shop where they do and how they develop loyalty moving forward, it’s much easier to create a positive customer experience (CX) that attracts new business to your brand. Here are five ways to improve your CX even amid a pandemic and a few examples of companies doing an excellent job of adjusting their services to match consumer needs.
1. Empathize With Your Customers
Each segment of society has different concerns due to the virus. People in high-risk groups may be unable to leave their homes, while millennials may fear a weakened economy and job impacts. Your initial step is to figure out who your target audience is and how the virus affects them.
Make a list of the different demographic groups you serve. Next, look at the psychological factors in play. Do they miss family? Is social time lacking? Perhaps they need to limit their interactions with others. If you aren’t sure how your target audience reacts, survey them to discover their most significant concerns.
With a list of pain points in hand, it’s much more straightforward to solve those issues. Show customers, you understand their fears and offer simple solutions. If you create a safe place to shop, your customers are much more likely to turn to you when they need your products or services.
Giant Eagle has customers of all different ages. They’ve considered safety and comfort for their different buyer personas. To ease their senior shoppers’ concerns, they set aside a couple of days a week with early shopping hours for those in higher-risk categories. A statement on their website outlines the proactive steps they’re taking to reduce viral spread.
2. Retrain Your Employees
Tension levels are at an all-time high for both customers and staff. Spend a little extra time on training measures. Give your workers some tools for handling anxious customers. Help them understand why people are angrier than usual, and provide training on how to defuse tense situations.
Offering some role-playing opportunities allows employees to see how they might respond to an upset client. If you notice one of your crew growing stressed, provide them with longer breaks or give them a day off to recuperate. Your staff may have sick family members or fear growing ill themselves. They can’t offer their best to customers if they are feeling out of sorts.
3. Revamp Your Normal Operations
In-person businesses had to adapt rapidly to the changes arriving with coronavirus. Look at the activities you usually engage in with your customers. How can you adapt them to be safer in today’s environment? What are the most beloved elements of your business that you can no longer offer the same way? Look for a virtual alternative or some new features you can add instead.
Green Diamond Builders might typically take a prospective homebuyer on a tour of some of their gorgeous floor plans. Unfortunately, with COVID-19 restrictions and fears of spreading the virus to others, in-person showings have become challenging. Instead, they’ve added some virtual tours to their website, so buyers can look at the options without leaving the safety of home.
4. Reach Out to Current Customers
Spend a few minutes every day touching base with your regular customers. Let them know you are thinking of them, miss your time together, and hope they are doing well. When you contact them, don’t try to sell them anything. Your only goal is to reassure them that your brand is weathering the storm, and they can expect the same outstanding level of customer service they’ve always received from you.
5. Invest in Home Delivery
COVID-19 has impacted the way businesses send their goods and services to customers. Many people venture out less, and some even work from home now. They might be unwilling to shop in a crowded store or eat in a restaurant surrounded by other diners. Adding delivery to your current offerings improves the customer experience by easing fears of catching or spreading the virus.
If you start a restaurant, you may require to expand your services and hire a few delivery drivers. Alternatively, you can team with services such as DoorDash and GrubHub to provide your food via third-party delivery drivers.
Think about what you sell and whether it makes sense to add delivery. If you already offer an in-home service, you may need to revamp your policies and protocols and reassure customers your technicians take precautions to keep them safe.
Board and You is a custom charcuterie board service in Southern Indiana. They’ve added delivery for orders over $100 to alleviate some of the fears people have in coming to pick up a board or dine in-house. They offer delivery within a specific store radius during business hours.
Survey Your Customers
The best way to ensure your customers are still having an ideal experience with your brand is by asking them. Send out a note and inform them you want them to feel thrilled with their interaction with you. Request for feedback on how you are doing and gather ideas for ways to improve. CX isn’t something you look at once and forget. As the world changes, viruses come and go and the way people shop shifts, you’ll want to consistently change your offerings until you meet your audience’s needs.
Lexie is a web designer and CX enthusiast. She enjoys hiking with her golden doodle and checking out local flea markets. Visit her design blog, Design Roast, and connect with her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.