How to keep your customers satisfied as the pandemic rolls on

Customer focus as directon on a compass for a satisfaction concept (3D Rendering)

Has your business had to make changes to the way it interacts with customers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic? If you answered in the negative, you’re in a minority. Across the country, enterprises of all shapes and sizes have had to start doing things differently, at little or no notice, since the coronavirus upended life as we knew it.

Hygiene and sanitation have become top-line issues, with hand sanitiser pumps now a feature on counters and in reception areas around the nation.

Customers, meanwhile, are watching and judging how well the businesses they deal with are responding to their needs in these unprecedented times.

And, faced with uncertain and challenging economic conditions – NAB’s most recent economic forecast The Forward View – Australia: July 2020 predicted GDP in the second quarter of 2020 would be down five per cent – they’re drawing in the purse strings. That means businesses need to work harder than ever to attract and retain their custom.

Here are three things customers are likely to be looking for when deciding how and where they’ll spend their hard-earned funds.

Consistent customer experience

One type of customer experience instore and quite another when you visited the same business online – if that were even a possibility. That was ‘situation normal’ in very many Australian small and medium-sized businesses in the pre-COVID era. A survey published by GoDaddy in April 2019 revealed an astonishing 59 per cent of small businesses did not have a web site, with company size, cost and time constraints the most commonly cited deterrents.

That doesn’t fly so well in 2020. Since the onset of the COVID pandemic, many more customers are looking to interact with businesses digitally, first and foremost, and they’re expecting a consistent, efficient experience when they do so. Companies which can’t offer it may need to accelerate their investment in digital transformation, to enable them to deliver the seamless service customers demand, or risk losing them to competitors which can.

Safety first

Pandemic or no, safety is a perennial concern, for both consumer and business customers. Buyers like to know that their personal data is being handled responsibly, that electronic payment systems are secure and that the products they’re buying represent quality and value; in other words, that the business they’re dealing with is a safe choice.

Those things haven’t changed in 2020 but an additional concern has reared its head – that of physical health and safety. Customers now want to see businesses are serious about protecting them with robust hygiene and cleaning protocols, strictly enforced social distancing measures and contactless payment options. The issue of staff safety has also come to the fore, with many customers taking the eminently reasonable view that if a business can’t look after its own, it’s unlikely to make the welfare of customers a priority.

Freedom to chose

Contactless payment or old-fashioned cash? Delivery to the door or self-service in store? Today’s customers don’t want these to be either/or questions. They’re looking for a customer journey which offers choices at every step of the way and that’s unlikely to change if and when the country returns to “situation normal”.

Surviving and thriving in the 2020s

The COVID-19 crisis is forcing Australian businesses to innovate and adapt to the vastly different environment they now find themselves operating in. Understanding how the virus has changed customers’ requirements and expectations will help your business meet and exceed their needs, now and into the future.

Brendan Maree, Vice President Asia Pacific, 8×8 Inc