Paying back the favour: How businesses can thank customers post-COVID

Paying back the favour: How businesses can thank customers post-COVID

What has kept businesses going this past year and a half? Furlough funds? Government business support? Rainy-day cash pots? For most businesses that have survived, the answer is overwhelmingly customers.

Customers have stuck with brands through thick and thin. They’ve sat outside to support local pubs. They’ve engaged with concerts and events online. They are the ones who have made it possible for thousands of new businesses to get started even amid COVID. Last year saw 85,000 new UK businesses registered at Companies House, the highest growth since 2011

Customer centricity was vital for these businesses to get off the ground; now, it is vital for those who wish to survive after the disruption. As businesses emerge, they must ensure they have the tools in place to truly earn the support and commitment their customers are willing to offer.

Customer-centricity is key

Compassion and understanding are crucial for any successful relationship. Many of your customers may themselves be experiencing financial instability as they emerge from this extended period of turbulence. Late payments and short-term difficulties are likely, but that shouldn’t stop them from doing business. It pays to show flexibility: the probability of successfully selling to an existing customer is 60-70%, compared to 5-20% for a new one.

Don’t be afraid to accommodate more flexible payment plans if it’s likely to salvage or embed an existing customer relationship. Going the extra mile to help a customer when times are lean helps ensure they remain engaged and loyal when they’ve rebounded into a stronger position. A lost customer goes to your competition, a loyal one will pay you back many times over.

Making this possible is easy. However, make sure you have factored in changes in payment terms to avoid cashflow issues of your own. The use of cloud-based accounting tools can provide a detailed, and real-time overview of cashflow, helping to plan and budget effectively.  

Pivot with your customers

A customer’s most powerful tool is their voice. A successful business is one that is always listening. Today, in the depth of disruption, businesses are transforming.  Many companies have had to shift to a digital-first model to remain relevant, and more changes are certain going forward. Making these changes alone, without customer insights, is like navigating in the dark without a light. 

Customer priorities continuously evolve. Needs and priorities that were front of mind for customers prior to the pandemic may now be less important, and new challenges will have taken their place. Ensure you pivot with and for your customers; developing new solutions that address current challenges. That’s why it’s important to speak to your customers regularly and use their insights to drive your business decisions and strategy.

Customers are a valuable source of innovation. Now is the time to re-engage with them, ask about pain points and gather their thoughts on new products or services. The ideal business partner: customers are not afraid to be honest and frank, which makes them the perfect sounding board for new ideas. What’s more, they will appreciate businesses that engage with them and action their feedback.

Take your customer relationships to the next level by understanding not only their thoughts and needs but also by analysing your customer data to gain insights.  Many businesses will have more customer data than they think ‘ not only contact information but also transactional insights, trends, usage patterns and service enquiries all hold valuable insights. This data can be more valuable than you think and will enable you to be more proactive and personalised in how you engage customers. 

A new world of customer experiences

As the world becomes ever-more digital, customer relationships are fast becoming the differentiator that matters. Investing in these relationships will give them the best chance of developing into long-term, loyal and trust-based connections that keep business and customer closer than ever.

The best tip? Stay in contact with your customers ‘ talk to them and understand what they need. Whether your business is growing slowly or skyrocketing, always make time to maintain these connections through data-driven insights, whether in person or spot-on communications. Why? Because it’s the customers who are the greatest support network a business could need.

Michael Office
Michael Office

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