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How to engage with customers during challenging times: Part Two

how to engage customers during covid-19_

Posted By Pinar Dost ⋅ May 22, 2020

It’s fair to say we’re all treading new ground right now. The fortunes of most businesses peak and trough over time, but many of us won’t have experienced a challenge quite like the one posed by the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

In part one of this two part blog series, we explored how and why you might want to reach out to your consumers during this time, or indeed any time of business adversity.

Now, in part two, we ask when and where you should consider engaging with your customers, as well as how you should position your message.

When is the right time to reach out?

Many consumer-facing businesses are in the unenviable position of having to close the doors of their physical touchpoints during the pandemic. But that shouldn’t affect business-as-usual, only that the touchpoints may be different.

Where customers may have traditionally visited a store to speak to someone about a problem, ask for advice, get additional support or make a return, now they need to turn to more digital channels to perform these tasks.

This may involve enhancing the live chat functionality on your website so customers can talk to your team when they’re browsing and shopping online. It might also involve expanding your call centre function so you can handle increasing call volumes, or providing additional training so they can support your customers across a wider range of questions.

Furthermore, because more of your customers are now shopping online, it means they’re no longer confined to the hours of the high street. Therefore, you may need to think about altering your operating hours to suit or make sure you’ve set expectations around when a member of your team is available to help.

Where should you engage?

COVID-19 has had a major impact on the way consumers communicate and engage with brands, which is why we need to change and rethink the way(s) we interact with them.

Since the outbreak began, the Global Web Index (GWI) has learned that 49 per cent of US and 39 per cent of UK consumers are reading more news stories on social media, with Facebook out in front. It presents a good opportunity for you to engage with your customers on a platform where they’re naturally searching for information.

In addition, video content is proving hugely popular, with 76 per cent of US online video watchers planning to consume just as much of this content when the outbreak is over. Livestreams (30 per cent) and podcasts (20 per cent) are also gaining traction amongst the millennial demographic.

It’s interesting to see the data that backs up how much we’re craving the personal touch at a time when many of us have never been more alone. Organisations have a great opportunity to make that human connection with their audience simply by showing a face and sharing a voice.

How should you position your message?

Framing your message is always important, but never more so than during a crisis. In part one , we discussed how your customers might be feeling like they need a little more reassurance and/or a personal connection, but we also have to be mindful of their mindset.

A lot of people will have lost their jobs or been furloughed. And even for those whose income hasn’t been affected, they may still be cautious about what happens next. In the UK, the government has implemented financial packages to support the economy, but all that debt needs to be repaid once the pandemic has passed.

Research from GWI shows that a third of consumers are planning to use their savings, reduce any subscriptions and wait for products to be on promotion or sale.

What’s crucial is that the data shows that consumers are almost four times more likely to hold out for promotions rather than looking for cheaper options from an alternative brand. Clearly there’s an opportunity to encourage loyalty and spending through specially placed offers.

As well as framing your message well, you should also consider the tone. At a time when consumers are choosing to spend more of their time online, it’s important to note that they’re actively seeking out funny videos (42 per cent) and looking at memes (32 per cent).

The opportunity to inject some carefully crafted humour does exist as we seek respite from the hard-hitting headlines and uncertainty over the future.

How can Ikano Insight help you?

Clearly, there’s a lot to think about and huge opportunities exist simply in how you choose to engage your customers over the coming weeks and months.

We can help you to identify how you can best enhance your customer experience using insights, data analytics and intelligence. The more you can learn about your customers, the quicker you can adapt, the faster you can make decisions, the better you can serve your customers, and ultimately, the stronger you will emerge from the current crisis. If we can help your business, please let us know.

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