How organisations can get their customers back

| July 29, 2020

Given the scale of disruption caused by COVID-19, there is a real concern for organisations that their customers’ buying behaviours have been permanently altered, according to Intergen.

Stewart Gibbs, practice manager, business applications, Intergen, said any assumption that customers will revert to old habits and everything will go back to normal from a sales perspective are optimistic, if not potentially dangerous to organisation’s recoveries.

“It takes about a month to break a habit so, through lockdown, it is likely that customers have started to consider other options. It could be they have survived without a product or service, found a substitute, or simply lack the finances in the short-term to resume normal purchasing patterns.”

Some organisations have already identified this as a potential issue and have executed a range of sales, marketing, and fulfilment strategies to ensure that their brands not only retain market share but position themselves for growth. These organisations are ready to take advantage of the gap created by companies that don’t bring a fresh perspective. In many cases, this has meant that organisations have reinvented themselves, such as moving to entirely digital channels when traditional bricks-and-mortar operations suddenly ceased.

Mr Gibbs said in the Australian market, there has been exponential demand for online stores and improved supply chain processes.

“While traditional transportation companies have struggled with demand, conveyance services, such as Uber, have reinvented themselves as pseudo freight carriers, delivering all sorts of goods to people’s homes.”

Organisations need to reconsider their customer engagement strategies now, and use the information gathered to make improvements that will ensure they retain their existing customers and attract new ones.

“Customer loyalty is fickle at the best of times. Compound that with a lack of knowledge about customers, their preferences, and their purchase history, and treating them as part of a herd, and it’s much harder for organisations to secure their loyalty,” Mr Gibbs said.

“Organisations should treat every interaction with a customer or prospect as an opportunity to learn and improve. Every contact provides insight, whether that is in-store, online, through records of purchase history and returns, or click-throughs on webpages. This requires having systems and processes in place that not only capture these interactions but can then help recognise trends and patterns, and adjust engagement models in the future. Once this data is harvested, it can help organisations predict what customers will do next, or better still, uncover action they can take to improve loyalty from existing and new customers.”

Companies can use a similar strategy to monitor competitors. Organisations should build data analytics capabilities into the business to gauge information such as competitors’ approaches to the market, their outcomes and their unique value proposition.

Mr Gibbs said this can be achieved by establishing processes within a customer relationship management (CRM) system, capturing data as it is identified and systematically analysing that data to understand competitive forces, helping organisations adapt more swiftly and modify their own behaviour.

“Being able to predict competitors’ next moves and beating them to the mark puts organisations in a valuable position with customers. Over time, this will frustrate competitors and create additional whitespace as they struggle to combat the go-to-market strategy.”

Doubling down on customer engagement, making the experience more intimate for them, and recognising that everyone is unique and should be treated so, is more vital now than ever.