One thing Covid-19 has made clear is that brand loyalty has its limits. As a brand, you’re only as strong as the most recent experiences your customers have had with you. People’s behaviors are changing in the short term as their needs are different, but those short-term changes may lead to different habits, discovering new brands, and a different set of expectations from brands people already know and love.
Creativity, agility, and adapting to people’s needs increase a brand’s chance for a better future. According to recent research from Accenture, “47% of consumers expect brands to translate their values and promises into new and innovative products and services.” So if customers are expecting you to solve new needs, it’s important to continually go back to what is important to them as the environment changes.
Here are three things to remember as you deal with the changing behaviors of people:
Make It Easy
It’s pretty obvious, but make it as easy as possible to buy from you. People are already stressed, don’t add to their frustrations. Keep the checkout process simple, especially on mobile. Let them pay with Apple Pay or Amazon Checkout. If something is unavailable, think of an enticing way to get them to try another one of your products instead or to come back when it is. Whether it is availability, price-driven, or to support a newly discovered interest, people’s willingness to try a new brand is accelerated. McKinsey’s research found that “75 percent of consumers have tried a new store, brand, or different way of shopping during the pandemic.” Brand loyalty only goes so far if you’re unavailable.
Go Above and Beyond With Customer Service
You may be short staffed but don’t let your customer service become a lesser priority. Whether it is a prospective customer, new customer, or a customer who bought one of your products a long time ago, you need to embrace the opportunity that you are getting the chance to help them. Make sure you are responsive, empathetic to their needs, and understanding of the stresses they may be under with their home life, work situation, financial state, and mental health.
Think Small and Big
What can you do where a little goes a long way? Where can you add value to their life, make them smile, reassure them. Fortify your core through small gestures while you think about grander changes. Maybe a temporary price cut helps your customer’s out in this tough time. More flexible payment arrangements can go a long way in creating long term bonds. Don’t be afraid to ask what their biggest concerns are and how you can play a role in helping them.
In Jeff Bezos’ recent opening remarks when appearing before Congress he said, “customers are always beautifully, wonderfully dissatisfied, even when they report being happy and business is great. Even when they don’t yet know it, customers want something better, and a constant desire to delight customers drives us to constantly invent on their behalf.” Don’t rely on brand loyalty to get you through. Thinking within the confines of the norms of your industry may produce marginal improvements. So don’t be afraid to explore lofty “What if…” statements that challenge what is expected. You may discover that your limitations become unbound, the future of your brand is not tethered to its past, and you can not only endure but transcend.