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10 tips for enriching the customer experience during a pandemic

The pandemic has really changed our consumption habits. In just a few weeks, online shopping, home deliveries, in-store pick-ups, e-payments, and e-transfers have skyrocketed.  Thankfully, promoting local producers and businesses has allowed several companies to alleviate the financial curve. But what do the coming months and years have in store? The answer lies in part in the customer experience . . . and in part in this series of tips to positively transform your future.

As we all know, the pandemic has impacted various sectors. This reality brings new logistics, health management, and expectations from a clientele made vulnerable by current events and personal uncertainties. How you face your future challenges is of utmost importance. This is where your ability to stand out and rebuild your practices, with stronger foundations, comes into play.

Build bonds of trust

A survey by public relations firm Edelman reveals some interesting facts concerning Canadian consumers’ expectations. In this report, published at the start of the pandemic, we learn that 65% of respondents agreed that the way a brand responds to a crisis has a huge impact on their likelihood of buying products and services from said brand in the future.

Conversely, the United Kingdom, United States, France, Germany, and Japan have a lower percentage. This shows natural, positive trust in our country with regard to brands and the companies who market them. That’s why it’s important to consolidate this privileged relationship that brings your clientele to a transaction and, ideally, to increase their loyalty.

Take the ice

The survey also reports that 64% of respondents agree that “our country will not make it through this crisis without brands playing a critical role in addressing the challenges we face.”

Clients want to see companies—proactive, flexible, innovative organizations and brands that are also useful and ingenious—get involved and adapt to the context and arising needs.

Communicate effectively

Your new motto: clients need to be informed of any changes you make, including in terms of access to your products and services. That’s what 92% of respondents have expressed!

Updating your website and social media platforms, and being able to respond quickly and appropriately to consumers’ questions, is essential. Creating a smooth, failproof experience, both in-store and online, also helps give a positive perception and boost performance.

As you know, there’s nothing more frustrating than arriving somewhere only to find it closed, because business hours were not updated online, or getting a recorded message dating back to the golden ages, or sending an email to a mysterious black hole.

In these difficult times, your ability to respond, concisely and with authenticity, is key. This has as much impact as the nature of what you are selling. Keep in mind that your clients need to be informed and, more importantly, reassured.

By being empathetic, you show that you truly care about and stand in solidarity with your clients, who will likely return the favour.

Support your employees

We can all do things differently. This means making bold decisions that would favourably influence your customers and employees.

In times of pandemic, consumers expect impeccable sanitary measures in place. They will also appreciate you taking tangible measures to ensure your staff’s wellbeing as well.

In fact, each member of your team should walk to the same beat, staying informed and offering exemplary service, while also adopting a positive attitude. You will also reap the benefits of perception by ridding yourself of bad news and a miserable attitude, which provides a stronger, more positive image of your company. An image you want to keep going.

Adapt your messages

Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Clients prefer to identify with companies that adapt to the current context and new realities. They seek out engaged organizations that are prepared to roll up their sleeves to make a difference.

And although it is recommended to do as much as you can, this should not stop you from using humour or keeping a fresh approach. For example, a face covering or colourful clothes, in season or adapted to the nature of your work, will help you stand out, create some proximity, and reduce potential tensions.

Improve your customer experience

Your way of dealing with social distancing measures, as well as your in-store traffic and customer experience, are a direct reflection of your understanding of your clientele’s new reality, expectations, and aspirations. By implementing adequate measures, you confirm your sincerity in wanting to reassure and protect the public.

How do you control your in-store environment? Do you simply place a single bottle of disinfectant at the door, or do you try to personalize your customers’ first impression of your business? Do you take initiative and consistently demonstrate that you are doing your part—in your communications, as well as in the type of welcome you offer?

When interacting with customers, smile through your mask, articulate, speak a little louder, a little slower. Take the time to explain how the customer experience works, including any changes that have taken place. For example, point out how the bathrooms and changing rooms work.

When it comes to your marketing initiatives, the Edelman report reveals that 87% of consumers want brands to focus their advertising on the aspects of their products and services that will help them better manage their daily challenges. Food for thought!

Adapt to the new reality

Pay special attention to your customers’ questions and affirmations. Be proactive; ask your own questions, share your own thoughts, and ask your clientele for advice! Remember: a healthy exchange with customers can only help foster trust and loyalty. Your customers’ desires must be at the heart of everything you do. That way your sales objectives will support their needs. Not the other way around.

The worst thing you can do? Adopt a “nothing has changed” attitude. This could be perceived as insensitivity towards the pandemic. Try to remember that every single person who decides to do business with you has their own family, financial, and emotional realities to deal with, some more complicated than others. Your sales planning and strategies need to reflect this.

Go further . . . by taking a step back!

What if you started all over? What role does your company play? What is your corporate mission? Values? How does your company stand out from the rest? What consumer and employee profile do you want to mobilize in the short, medium, and long term? Are your operational procedures fully optimized? This list could go on . . . it’s up to you to ask yourself the right questions.

One thing is for sure: going back to the drawing board and recrunching your numbers is an excellent opportunity to refresh your entrepreneurial fibre. Use this occasion to reconnect with what motivated you to launch your business in the first place.

By taking a few steps back, new paths will open up to you, allowing you to change directions if need be. Take this opportunity to try a new, more stimulating and profitable path.

This exercise, which aims to galvanize your services and enrich the customer experience, is also the perfect occasion for you to examine how you divide your resources between your physical and digital services. And your employees and customers can most certainly help you do this! The objective here is not to kick off a revolution, but rather speed up your evolution.

Optimize your online sales and services

You no longer have a choice! A website, however simple, complete with engaging content and advice, is the ideal way to make your company stand out, to share your story, and to establish real connections.

When it comes to sales, your best bet is to opt for templates that let you personalize the transactional journey. Product promotions, shopping carts, payment and delivery options: several affordable and optimal solutions are available to you and can become powerful business levers.

Is your website already top of the line? In that case, go through every page, every paragraph, every line. Same thing goes for your newsletter, social platforms, digital ecosystem, and marketing tools. Ask yourself if your content is up to date, relevant, and in line with the current situation.

Both online and in-store, make sure to be helpful, reassuring, and caring. Go above and beyond simply offering a product or service—offer a pleasant and stimulating experience.

Keep the pandemic at bay!

If this piece of advice sounds paradoxical, rest assured that it is most certainly not the case! In fact, it’s all about proper dosage.

All of us are in the same situation, having to contend with new realities and so many changes.

And we are all in need of happy moments, moments that allow us to focus on more positive things than the pandemic, which is why an optimal customer experience is key!

Being yourself, sharing your entrepreneurial or intrapreneurial passions will become an important factor in terms of subscription, conversation, and engagement. In fact, the customer experience needs to be at the heart of everything you do; make your customers your number one priority.

To paraphrase a famous saying: ask not what you can do for your consumers; ask what your consumers can do for you!

In the same vein, remember that maintaining a loyal customer base is much more profitable than having to constantly seek out new prospects. During these unprecedented times, make sure to take care of your customers with the same energy and devotion as you do your business.

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