Abraham Lincoln was quoted as saying “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
At Catchi, like most businesses we are feeling the effects of COVID-19. Due to the nature of our services, most of our clients have a core part of their business that relies on digital. This has meant they have mostly been able to continue to trade in some way despite the recent events but often at a very different or at a much lower level.
Business as we know it has changed.
Consumers are not able to shop in their usual methods, which for some traditional brick and mortar stores has resulted in them struggling to keep the doors open. Those that are trading still, due to being an essential business, are noticing heavy demand on their resources and ability to fulfil orders within their normal service levels impossible to maintain.
Reflecting on that famous quote above has us thinking – now is the time to prepare, be mindful of where time is spent and take considered action in the right direction.
After speaking with a number of our clients, there are some key themes we have noticed that might be helpful for those trying to ride the wave in these uncertain times:
1. Buying behaviour is changing
Customers no longer have their usual trusted and familiar ways to shop. During the lockdown here in New Zealand where we are based, we are limited to only essential services or businesses, which has meant a lot of companies are closed for the four-week period (and this might very well be extended).
Most are trying to work remotely, however if your products or services can only be purchased when people to visit and shop, you currently won’t be able to continue trading at all. Consider how you might serve your customers, without being face to face or having the call centre up and running?
How could you remain front of mind and provide a service that customers want in a digital way? Look at your competitors and see what they are doing, spend time researching your customers to see how they are purchasing during this time and plan ahead for when the country goes back to level 3, 2 or at some stage, 1.
2. Be agile
Business as we know it is changing. BAU doesn’t exist.
How you were doing business before COVID-19 may not be how you keep doing business even after everyone is back at work. In challenging times with an unpredictable market, your organisation needs to be agile (even ad hoc at the moment) to move with the market, and quick enough to adapt to your customers’ needs. Look at your systems and processes, eliminate any that don’t improve the service delivery and therefore the bottom line. Anything non-essential needs to be reconsidered….today.
3. Digital innovation
Now more than ever, your digital business needs to perform well compared to others in your market. If you don’t sell the build of your products or services online, now is the time to make every effort to turn them into a digital offering. If you already have one, keep in mind that while consumers are limited with a choice right now, they are still at home browsing online. They have time, and space – If you’re not in the market they won’t be seeing you! Don’t do a disappearing act on them, as brand awareness now is key. Companies that keep investing in digital will be the ones that will come out stronger at the other end.
For essential services, your customers will need to be using you regardless of the user experience. This doesn’t mean they will like it and stick with it long term. Using data-driven optimisation and personalisation, you can improve the customer journey and save time while improving your conversions. This could mean a few things:
- Same traffic – more revenue. Converting more of the existing traffic into sales, without increasing your marketing spend.
- Better customer experience – less time to process orders, provide support and meet your customers’ needs = happier customers
- Improved customer retention. Serving your existing customers better leads to greater retention.
Your customers need answers and clarity. Right now more than ever. How you will continue to serve them, what changes have been made or are going to be made that will affect them and what improvements or enhancements are you making to continue to serve them. Focus on them not you, communicate clearly and your customers will thank you for it.