By Candace Huntly
Last year will forever be known as a year for adapting. Adapting in your personal life. Adapting in your professional life. Adapting your business strategy. You name it, we all had to adapt in 2020. As we move closer to what we are all hoping will be a new normal that is somewhat close to the life we used to know, brands need to make sure they understand the changing customer needs throughout 2021.
How are you going to manage your business while keeping up with your changing customer needs this year? Here are six ways to make sure you find the light at the end of the tunnel.
Focus on building a better customer experience
At the beginning of the pandemic, so many businesses scrambled to establish a stronger online presence. For many businesses (especially small businesses), it was the opportunity to establish a digital presence for the first time. Social media platforms were set up, e-commerce was added to websites, and brick and mortar retailers got creative with in-store/curbside pickup options.
In 2021, now that the bar has been set pretty high by certain brands, everyone is going to have to start meeting these higher expectations. It’s not going to be enough that you are sanitizing the door handles. Find ways to surprise your customers. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but look to other brands that have tried new things. A few ways you can step up your customer experience are things like:
- Personal shoppers: Then your customers don’t have to set foot in the store.
- Phone in ordering: Not every customer is tech-savvy enough to order online.
- Virtual consultation: Personalize the experience before they even put in their online order.
- Virtual meet & greets: This could work for children’s products and even professional experts.
People are spending way more time on social media now. YMC’s latest research shows that 75% of Canadian moms are spending more time on social media than before the pandemic. That is a lot of extra time for you to get to know your customers and exactly what they want from you. Social listening is a great way to ensure you aren’t just trying for a hard sell every time you post on social media. It’s all about creating dialogue and asking questions. Then you want to take the information you gather and change up your strategy accordingly. Are your customers not feeling comfortable going in-store shopping? Provide alternatives. Do they want to know more about your vaccination policies for staff? Start having the tough questions with your team. Do they need more support navigating the sales process? Add more opportunities for them to ask questions both digitally and old school. The great news is, once you have a social listening strategy in place, you can ensure you stay on top of changing customer behaviours throughout the year.
Communicate changes really well
Your customers can’t read your mind. Period. And they need time to adjust to your changes. If you plan on introducing something new, talk about it. A lot. Communicate about the changes on as many channels as you can – email, website, social media, in-person signage. Chances are, there will still be people that don’t hear about it, but you can still provide as much opportunity as possible.
Review current market position
With industry changes and customer needs changes, it is important to address how your brand currently fits into the bigger picture. Chances are you may have adjusted your goals, service delivery method, product line, and/or your audience targeting – but you may not have taken the time to consider how your overall business strategy and market positioning would be affected. Make sure that all aspects of your strategy are still aligned with your market positioning.
Acknowledge customer difficulties
Ignoring challenges will not help you solve them. The best way to fill a need is to acknowledge that your customers are having specific challenges so you can find solutions. And don’t do it behind the scenes either. Talk about the difficulties, create a dialogue with your customers and then take them on the journey with you while you find a solution.
Prioritize need for change
Chances are, you are going to need to go through some changes throughout 2021. With all of the changing customer behaviour, needs, government guidelines, and more, you will likely need to adapt. It is important that you keep that in the back of your mind so you can be mentally prepared for change and adapt quickly if necessary.
Not sure you are still positioned for success in the market? Are you worried about what’s to come? Book a free 20-minute consultation with us to help point you in the right direction.