The current pandemic has caused drastic changes to the way consumers evaluate businesses. Between job loss and voluntary time off, many people no longer have the means to spend money wherever they please. Instead they are more selective of the establishments they frequent and will often take into consideration a company’s response to the pandemic when making choices.
So, how do you become the company that is retaining customers? Harvard Business Review suggests utilizing the H.E.A.R.T. framework. This system outlines the steps businesses should take when communicating with customers during a crisis. It reiterates the importance of supporting the priorities (i.e., health and safety) of consumers while providing them with new alternatives to interact with your company amidst a crisis.
Humanize your company. Let people know that you care about the current social crisis and want to truly help your customers during this pandemic instead of just making a profit. Show empathy for those COVID-19 has affected while outlining what strides you are taking to help not only your customers but also your employees! Now is a great time to utilize contactless marketing such as mailing lists and social media. Just make sure the message is thoughtful and concise while not overplaying your compassion.
Educate consumers about change. Between public health concerns and government guidelines, you are constantly making changes to your day-to-day operations (i.e., hours of operation, ordering options, etc.), but now your customers need to know about them! Be proactive and work on implementing new policies before government regulations go into effect. Staying ahead and notifying customers of changes before they become mandatory will convey to your customers that you are knowledgeable about and taking the pandemic seriously.
Assure the stability of your company. With so much change in our daily lives, people want to be able to rely on at least some aspects in life being stable. Show that you can and will continue to operate within the constraints of the pandemic to provide your customers with the items and services they love! Tell them how your business plans to maintain the values they cherish.
Revolutionize offerings. Essentially use this pandemic to revolutionize your business. Sun Tzu, author of The Art of War, said it best, “In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity”. Take this opportunity to look at your company – how can you revamp your goods or services to address the current crisis? Are there parts of your business that need an overhaul to continue past the stay-at-home orders? Is there a creative way to fulfill new opportunities in the market?
Tackle the future! Determine how frequently you want to evaluate the changes you have implemented. Are your changes working? Have they worked better than you imagined? What changes do you want to continue into the future? Show your consumers that you can maintain your business throughout this pandemic and seamlessly transition back to normal (if not improved!) service in the future.
People want their favorite companies to survive COVID-19 so that they can return to their normal lives once we can leave the house. However, as the months drag on businesses need to remember their customers and communicate the efforts they are taking to keep them safe. Through leading by example, taking safety precautions, and revolutionizing industry standards to account for customer concerns, companies can not only retain, but strengthen their relationships with consumers!
Source: Harvard Business Review – visit this page for more in-depth information about H.E.A.R.T.