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The global pandemic has caused major disruptions in the way businesses operate and retain customers. Challenges such as government-imposed lockdowns, supply chain issues and staff shortages are just some of the frustrations customers have faced over the past two years. This resulted in canceled orders, reduced purchases and a move to a competitor that could better meet their needs. The pandemic also changed consumer buying habits as many workers faced layoffs, remote work arrangements and changes in their commute.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 56 percent of all companies saw a decline in demand for their products and services. For some businesses, such as air transport, hotels and food service, the turnover was even more severe.
Now that there is light at the end of the tunnel, business owners need to focus their efforts on rebuilding their customer base. To do this, entrepreneurs and small business owners need to have a well thought out strategy. Companies that assume customers will just keep coming back are in for a rough awakening. Businesses will need to be more proactive in their approach to increase their success in winning back the lost customers.
1. Get feedback from customers
To create a successful strategy, you need to better understand what your customers think and feel about your business. Now is the perfect time to conduct customer research and surveys. The insights from existing customers can be helpful in understanding why they stayed with your company during the pandemic. But don’t forget to also get feedback from customers who have left. By understanding what factors drove them away, you can better understand what it takes to win them back.
Related: Really Hearing and Using Customer Feedback
2. Re-evaluate your target market
Your ideal customer today may look very different from your pre-pandemic target market. Changes in buying patterns may have eliminated or greatly reduced demand from your bread-and-butter customers. These changes forced companies to adapt their services to the needs of untapped or previously secondary markets. For example, a brick-and-mortar company that made only a small percentage of online sales can now get a majority of their sales from their online store.
3. Improve communication
Some companies lost customers due to poor communication strategies. Customers felt they were unaware of shipping delays or closures due to lockdowns. Your company’s communication plan may need to be revised to improve communication with your customers. With many businesses going under during the pandemic, it’s also critical to make sure your customers know you’re still alive.
Related: 5 Marketing Strategies Entrepreneurs Should Start By 2022
4. Transform your customer service
Most companies are in the same boat when it comes to rising material costs and supply chain issues. Companies need to work to improve things that are within their control, such as customer service. This can help them differentiate themselves from their competitors. You want to make sure that the process of re-engagement with your business is simple and requires little effort. You can also work on creating new ways to personalize your products or improve the customer experience. For example, if you’re a SaaS business, free workshops can help customers feel more comfortable with what your platform has to offer.
5. Think about prices and offer incentives
Inflation drives up the price of most goods and services. Consumers are well aware of how this affects their finances. While taking steps to keep costs down is the most obvious option, it may not be possible to control. If you do need to raise your prices, think about ways to provide more value (such as exclusive features) to your customers who pay more. This will help them justify the extra cost. You can also offer discounts for large or longer purchase agreements.
6. Stay focused on health and safety
Some consumers, especially those with medical conditions that put them at risk, may still fear a full return to normal. When you reopen your business or ramp up your operations, you should emphasize to your customers that you will continue to provide them with a safe and healthy environment. This is especially critical for businesses in the retail and food service industries. The goal is to make your business safe, but focus on ways not to feel cumbersome.
Related: Business Reopening: COVID-19 Safety Guide
7. Schedule reopening events
You can create a lot of buzz and excitement for repeat customers by hosting some form of reopening event. Depending on the type of business you operate, this could be an elaborate in-person event for your top clients. Other companies may schedule online or virtual events or activities, such as sales, special promotions, or exclusive informational campaigns.
If you get this right, you as an businesstraverse.com can regain your own work-life balance and increase your profitability, while also gaining more personal freedom.